Planning a funeral service can be overwhelming and stressful – and averaging over $8,000, funerals are often one of the most expensive purchases individuals will ever make. Funeral directors are a great resource and can often be helpful as you plan a funeral or memorial service. But as you’re inundated with information, you may feel overwhelmed or anxious about making an informed decision that will ensure your loved one gets the care they deserve. Here are a few tips to help you with the funeral planning process:
What type of funeral do you want?
Before getting too deep into the funeral planning process, consider whether you’d like to plan a burial versus a cremation and whether you’d like to plan a funeral that is simple or elaborate, public or private, and religious or secular. Also think about whether or not you’d like a viewing or visitation (with the casket opened or closed). All of these decisions could impact the overall price of the funeral service.
How much do you want to spend?
We know it’s a daunting and frustrating task to research which funeral homes may fall into your budget. That’s why eFuneral created a free online service to help individuals and families find, compare, and select the funeral homes that best meet their needs. But, if you’d prefer to personally research the funeral homes in your neighborhood, keep in mind that funeral directors are required by law to provide price information over the phone to any individual who requests it. When you make such a request, ask to see the General Price List, which details the cost of each and every service, and request information on package pricing. Many funeral homes package services together resulting in a lower total price than the cost of each separate service combined.
What goods and services will you need?
Many funeral homes offer additional goods and services to the families they serve – these may include caskets, vaults, grave liners, flowers, music, obituary notices, and pallbearers. Funeral directors are required to show individuals a list of caskets and outer burial containers that they sell, with descriptions and prices, prior to showing them the items. But, individuals are not required to purchase such goods and services through the funeral home if they would prefer to make these arrangements separately. You may, for instance, purchase a casket online or from another retailer and have it shipped directly to the funeral home. Federal regulations require that funeral directors agree to use caskets purchased elsewhere without charging you an additional fee for using it. Many funeral homes also offer individuals planning a cremation the option of renting a casket for the viewing.
Also keep in mind, state laws do not require individuals to purchase outer burial containers like vaults and grave liners, but some cemeteries may require them to prevent graves from sinking in the future.
Final thoughts on funeral planning
Learn the lingo so you have an understanding of the terms funeral directors frequently use, like alternative containers, embalming, and vaults.
Try to resist unnecessary overspending on “properly” honoring your loved one. Planning a funeral service can be emotion, but keep in mind, you don’t need the fanciest urn or most intricate casket to show your love and respect for your loved one.
Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases, and resist the pressure to buy goods and services you don’t really need.
Plan ahead so you have time to make arrangements without time constraints or additional stressors.
Have you planned a funeral or memorial service? Share some of your tips below.
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