Do you know the cost of a funeral? If not, you’re not alone.
A recent poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 83 percent of respondents had no idea of the costs or the financial responsibilities of a funeral.
The average cost of a funeral can run between $7,000 and $10,000. If you’re responsible for a funeral, you’ll need to interact with the funeral home; acquire a headstone, likely from a marble supplier; and consult with the cemetery for a plot.
While the funeral home can put these together in a package, all cost money. In addition, you’ll need to consider use of a hearse, a limo to bring people to the funeral, multiple death certificates (every agency will want one), an organist for the service, clergy or minister, flowers and obituary notices in the newspapers.
The NFCC has some suggestions for making a difficult (and expensive) time a bit easier.
• Know in advance the funeral preferences of your loved ones. Make sure your own wishes are known as well by others in the family. Put these in writing and give copies to those who would handle arrangements for your funeral.
• When the time comes, treat the expense of a funeral as you would any other large expense: comparison shop with at least two funeral homes.
• By law, you must be given an itemized statement of the costs of goods and services being purchased. Barring specific costs, a good-faith estimate must be given to you. Federal Trade Commission rules apply here, too, when it comes to the purchase of a casket. For example, you cannot be charged a fee for using a casket that is purchased elsewhere.
• Don’t spend more than you need to. Fancy and elaborate isn’t necessary.
• Know the laws of your state, as they vary. Understand which laws are optional and which are required. Some funeral homes, for example, require embalming when there is to be viewing and visitation, while the state laws don’t require it. That might be an optional expense you can avoid.
• If you purchase a pre-arranged funeral-plan policy, know your state laws, and be sure your family knows you have it.
For more information, go to www.consumer.ftc.gov and put “funeral” in the search box. There are nine articles with information on different aspects of arranging a funeral.
Uffington does not answer reader questions personally, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.