When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral, all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. Click here for a helpful article on planning a funeral.
The increasing trend toward pre-need planning – when people make funeral arrangements in advance – suggests that many people want to compare prices and services so that ultimately, the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one.
Prepaid Funeral Agreements
Making the funeral arrangements (Pre-Need Funeral Contract)
A Pre-Paid Funeral Contract should identify:
- Funeral provider
- The person purchasing the contract
- The person for whom the contract is purchased
Funeral Contracts should contain a complete description of the merchandise and services purchased and disclose the current price of the merchandise and services.
Professional funeral services can include:
- Professional services of a funeral director and staff;
- Transportation and funeral vehicles;
- Preparations of the body;
- Locations for visitation;
- The funeral ceremony;
Funeral merchandise can include:
- Casket, urn, or both;
- Outer burial container;
- Other merchandise and associated items (such as a vase)
The Funeral Contract will put everything in writing. A copy should be maintained:
- At home;
- By family;
- By funeral home.
Funeral costs can vary widely – even for identical services offered in the same city. To save money and ensure that your wishes are met, visit several funeral homes to compare prices and services.
Funding the cost of the pre-arranged funeral – options include:
- Life insurance;
- Bank Trust Agreement (call your bank for information);
- Viatical settlements, which enable someone facing a terminal illness to access the value of their life insurance policy to ease financial burdens and create peace of mind. Call your insurance company for details.
The Funeral Rule
(enforced by the Federal Trade Commission)
- The funeral provider must state the goods and services offered in writing on a general price list.
- You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
- If state or local laws require you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
- The funeral provider may not refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
- A funeral provider who offers cremations must make a variety of containers available.
Click here to learn more about the Funeral Rule.
It is recommended that you call or visit at least three funeral homes and/or cemeteries to compare prices. With three lists, you can more accurately assess the total costs and be able to compare prices.