Today’s guest post on funeral expenses is sponsored by Safe Passage Urns.
As funeral costs continue to rise, families are looking for any alternative way to save money. Unless the person who has passed away has a last will or life insurance plan in place, the family of the decedent will be responsible for paying the funeral expenses. These expenses can amount to well over $7,300, which is the national average cost for a burial funeral according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The average American family simply does not have this kind of money laying around to foot the bill, but hopefully, after reading this guide you will be better prepared to save money while planning a funeral.
1. Selecting the Right Funeral Home
The variance between funeral home pricing can be much greater then what you might imagine which is why it is so important to do some comparison shopping beforehand. Some funeral homes charge much more for the same exact services. People will often select a funeral home because it is close to their home or has served their family in the past. It might seem easier to just go with what is most familiar, however, if there is a funeral home that is farther away from your family but it is significantly cheaper than other funeral homes closer by, then it makes sense to drive the extra half hour to save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars.
When choosing a funeral home, the best place to start is online by reading reviews and looking at each funeral homes website. Ask friends and family if they have any recommendations. You can also contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance and see if any local funeral homes have had complaints filed against them. When you are narrowing down your decision, it is easier to call the funeral homes rather than visit them to get some price estimates, but you will eventually want to visit the funeral home to get a better idea of the layout and décor. Funeral homes always offer consultations which involve a meeting with the funeral director. This initial meeting is an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn more about the funeral homes and the services it offers.
2. Know Your Rights as a Consumer
The best place to start is the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, made specifically to help protect people from the sometimes dubious tactics of funeral homes.
The most important parts of this legislation states:
- Consumers are entitled to an itemized ‘General Price List’ which lists the prices of all their goods and services
- You only have to buy the goods and services you want
- You can choose not to have embalming in almost all circumstances
- You have the legal right to purchase a cremation urn or casket elsewhere, the funeral home has to accept this alternative and cannot charge additional fees
- Receive a written statement of each individual service or good being purchased before paying for anything
It should be noted that some funeral homes will overcharge by a lot for caskets and cremation urns. You are fully within your rights to use a cremation urn or casket that you have purchased elsewhere for the memorial service.
3. Choosing a Disposition Method
The average cost of a burial funeral is $7,300 and the average cost of a cremation funeral is $3,100. That is an average savings of $4,200 by choosing cremation as the disposition method. If you are trying to save money while planning a funeral service, it just makes sense to choose cremation. Cremation is an overall simpler disposition method that involves less planning and requires fewer services. Some of the costs associated with a burial funeral that are not relevant to cremation funerals include:
- Additional cost of transportation for the body
- Embalming fee
- Body dressing fee if there is an open casket funeral
- Buying a casket which is significantly more expensive than a cremation urn
Planning a funeral on a budget is difficult but it is not impossible. Knowing your rights as a consumer, paired with taking the time to choose the best funeral home are highly effective ways to save money but you will ultimately be able to save the most money by choosing cremation over burial for the memorial service. For additional information on funeral planning check out the Safe Passage Urn’s funeral planning guide.