Consumer Guide: Funerals & Burials

Consumer Guide
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A burning candle with a white coffin and a flower arrangement on the background in a mortuary

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral  — all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. Here are some important reminders from the Federal Trade Commission.

Funeral Planning: 

When arranging for a funeral, you have the right to buy goods and services separately and are not obligated to buy package deals. The FTC suggests you:

  • Shop around in advance. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Remember that you can supply your own casket or urn.
  • Ask for a price list. The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services.
  • Resist pressure to buy goods and services you don’t really want or need.
  • Avoid emotional overspending. It’s not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
  • Recognize your rights. Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It’s a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional.
  • Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. You can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral, and by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing.
  • Shop in advance. It allows you to comparison shop without time constraints, creates an opportunity for family discussion, and lifts some of the burden from your family.

BBB Tips for Pre Planning a Funeral:

  • Create Your Will. The Better Business Bureau says it’s best to write a will, especially after you have children, otherwise the state will make decisions for you.  Remember if you write your will early, it’s important to update it periodically.
  • Make a Budget. Visit multiple funeral homes and ask for a General Price List. Use the information to create a reasonable budget and stick to it.
  • Check Out the Facility.  nce you believe you have found the right establishment, check out the funeral home in person before making a definite decision. Make sure the funeral home has obtained the proper licensing from your state’s licensing board.
  • Save Copies.  After purchasing funeral services you will receive a signed copy of the agreement. Be sure to save a copy of this agreement because it states all the services you purchased and their price.

The FTC Funeral Rule consumers the right to:

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.
  • Get price information on the telephone.
  • Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home.
  • See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets.
  • See a written outer burial container price list.
  • Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, and before you pay.
  • Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.
  • Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation.
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere.
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming.
  • NOTE: The FTC’s Funeral Rule does not cover cemeteries and mausoleums unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services.

Final Resting Place

  • Cemeteries
    • Cost, location, and religious requirements should all be considerations when selecting a cemetery plot.
    • Find out if perpetual care is included or if you’ll need separate endowment care fee for maintenance and groundskeeping
  • Mausoleums
    • If you plan to bury your loved one’s cremated remains in a mausoleum or columbarium, you can expect to purchase a crypt and pay opening and closing fees, as well as charges for endowment care and other services.

Resources:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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