How to Choose a Funeral Home
There’s never a perfect time to look for the best funeral home or to plan on what items you want included in a funeral. Even though the average funeral costs around $8,000 this moment is quite possibly the most neglected major life event that we reluctantly encounter.
The right time to find the best funeral home for you or your loved one is when you don’t need to. Often, finding the best funeral home is put to the wayside when a loved one passes away. The spouse or significant other is in a state of distraught and simply uses the nearest funeral home or a funeral home that a friend or relative has suggested.
The difference between funeral home A and B can mean the difference between spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for the same services. How so? The underlying reason is ownership.
Although a funeral home may appear to be privately owned, over 20% of funeral homes are actually owned by a corporation. Corporations typically charge much higher rates than a privately owned funeral home and may even keep the same name of the funeral home that it has acquired.
You may think that you are going with a local company just because of the name on the board outside of the home, when in fact, that funeral home may be operated by a corporation which charges 30-40% more than the competing privately owned funeral homes in the area.
You can see why preparing in advance for a funeral can help save you money and reduce unnecessary stress in your life!
Here are the top five things to look for when finding the best funeral home for your needs:
1. Price compare. Every funeral home is required by law to make available a “General Price List” of all of the services and products that it offers. Ask for a copy so that you may compare the pricing with other funeral homes in the area. Many funeral homes offer a packaged selection – this may help reduce your overall out of pocket costs or they may charge more. Double check to see what competitors are offering.
2. Note what is included in their service fees as these may vary significantly from one funeral home to the other. The more specific the line items, the easier it will be to choose a funeral home.
3. Include ‘funeral costs’ in your life insurance plan. Avoid buying a funeral plan from the funeral home itself to avoid any undue headaches.
4. Skip the “protective” casket upsell. While this so-called feature keeps outside elements from destroying the body, it actually dehydrates the body and petrifies it. This little $8.00 cost to funeral homes is upsold for as much as $800 extra to their clients!
5. Buy a casket at Costco or a local retailer. Even Wal-Mart’s online store sells caskets. Funeral companies are required to allow you to use the casket of your choice. You are not required to use only their services or products should you decide to have the funeral at their location. Funeral homes are NOT allowed to charge a handling fee for using outside caskets. Currently, only Oklahoma bars customers from buying caskets directly from a retailer.
Want more help? Check out this useful guide put together by the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
Although one hopes for the best, it is always good to prepare for the worst. Preparing in advance will help you and your loved ones have a smoother transition during this difficult time.