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Most decisions about purchasing funeral goods and services are made by people when they are grieving and under time constraints. Thinking ahead may help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. In this way, you can carefully choose the specific items you want and need and can compare prices offered by one or more funeral providers.
Each year, Americans arrange more than 2 million funerals for family or friends. When arranging a funeral, consumers may not be initially concerned about costs. Still, many customers may spend more for a funeral than for almost anything else they buy. In fact, at an average cost of $2,400, a funeral may be the third most expensive consumer purchase after a home and a car.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) developed a trade regulation rule concerning funeral industry practices, which went into effect on April 30, 1984. It is called the Funeral Rule, and its purpose is to enable consumers to obtain information about funeral arrangements.
In general, the rule makes it easier for you to select only those goods and services you want or need and to pay for only those you select. Now, for example, you can find out the cost of individual items over the telephone. Also, when you inquire in person about funeral arrangements, the funeral home will give you a written price list of the goods and services available. When arranging a funeral, you can purchase individual items or buy an entire package of goods and services. If you want to purchase a casket, the funeral provider will supply a list that describes all the available selections and their prices. Thus, as described in greater detail in the following sections, the FTC's Funeral Rule helps you obtain information about the cost and availability of individual funeral goods and services.
Telephone Price Disclosures
When you call a funeral provider and ask about terms, conditions, or prices of funeral goods or services, the funeral provider will:
By using the telephone, you can compare prices among funeral providers. Getting price information over the telephone may thus help you select a funeral home and the arrangements you want.
General Price List
If you inquire in person about funeral arrangements, the funeral provider will give you a general price list. This list, which you can keep, contains the cost of each individual funeral item and services offered. As with telephone inquiries, you can use this information to help select the funeral provider and funeral items you want, need, and are able to afford.
The price list also discloses important legal rights and requirements regarding funeral arrangements. It must include information on embalming, cash advance sales (such as newspaper notices or flowers), caskets for cremation, and required purchases.
The Federal Rule requires funeral providers to give consumers information about embalming that can help them decide whether to purchase this service. Under the Rule, a funeral provider:
Cash Advance Sales
The Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to disclose to you in writing if they charge a fee for buying cash advance items. Cash advance items are goods or services that are paid for by the funeral provider on your behalf. Some examples of cash advance items are flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, and clergy honoraria. Some funeral providers charge you their cost for these items. Others add a service fee to their cost.
The Federal Rule requires the funeral provider to inform you when a service fee is added to the price of cash advance items, or it the provider gets a refund, discount, or rebate from the supplier of any cash advance item.
Caskets for Cremation
Some consumers may want to select direct cremation, which is cremation of the deceased without a viewing or other ceremony at which the body is present. If you choose a direct cremation, the funeral provider will offer you either an inexpensive alternative container or an unfinished wood box. An alternative container is a non-metal enclosure used to hold the deceased. These containers may be made of pressboard, cardboard, or canvas.
Because any container you buy will be destroyed during the cremation, you may wish to use an alternative container or an unfinished wood box for a direct cremation. These could lower your funeral cost since they are less expensive than traditional burial caskets.
Under the Funeral Rule, funeral directors who offer direct cremations:
You do not have to purchase unwanted goods or services as a condition of obtaining those you do want unless you are required to do so by state law. Under the Funeral Rule:
Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected
The funeral provider will give you an itemized statement with the total cost of the funeral goods and services you select. This statement also will disclose any legal, cemetery, or crematory requirements that compel you to purchase any specific funeral goods or services.
The funeral provider must give you this statement after you select the funeral goods and services that you would like. The statement combines in one place the prices of the individual items you are considering for purchase, as well as the total price. Thus, you can decide whether to add or to subtract items to get what you want. If the cost of cash advance items is not known at the time, the funeral provider must write down a "good faith estimate" of their costs. The Rule does not require any specific form for this information. Therefore, funeral providers may include this information in any documentation they give you at the end of your discussion about funeral arrangements.
Preservative and Protective Claims
Under the Funeral Rule, funeral providers are prohibited from telling you a particular funeral item or service can indefinitely preserve the body of the deceased in the grave. The information gathered during the FTC's investigation indicated these claims are not true. For example, funeral providers may not claim embalming or a particular type of casket will indefinitely preserve the deceased's body.
The Rule also prohibits funeral providers from making claims that funeral goods, such as caskets or vaults, will keep out water, dirt, and other grave site substances when that is not true.
If you decide to make advance plans about funeral arrangements either for yourself or a loved one, you can choose among several types of dispositions and ceremonies. The type of disposition you choose may affect the cost. Some people prefer a ceremonial service, religious or secular, with the body present. Another service is cremation, which may be performed either directly or after a ceremony. In addition, the deceased body may be donated (either directly or after a ceremony) to a medical or educational institution. To help ensure that your wishes are carried out, you may want to tell relatives and other responsible persons what you have decided.
For More Information
Most states have a licensing board that regulates the funeral industry. You may contact the licensing board in your state for information or help. You may also contact the Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, 520 E. Van Trees Street, P.O. Box 497, Washington, IN 47501; (812) 254-7887. This association, which represents the licensing boards of 47 states, will provide information on the laws of the various states and will accept and respond to consumer inquiries of complaints about funeral providers.
For Further Help
If you have problems concerning funeral matters, first attempt to resolve them with your funeral director. If you are dissatisfied, contact your federal, state, or local consumer protection agencies or the Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.
Good question. Well, the great part about doing business with us is that we ship all over the continental United States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. Now, just before you begin thinking that the shipping cost for a funeral casket is astronomical, you need to know that way PAY FOR ALL THE SHIPPING! Orders are typically received by our clients within 24-48 Hours.
We sell all kinds. We offer 18 Gauge caskets, 20 Gauge caskets, and even oversized and wood caskets. All photos and pricing is listed for your convenience. We know you have questions, and we would love to be of service in any way that we can. Please feel free to contact us (817)877-1416 at any time.
Viewing is a part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
The Federal Trade Commission says, "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial."
When compared to other major life events like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.
Additionally, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist.
It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home or in a crematory chapel.
With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, i.e., earth burial, retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.)
Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision.
You might choose ground burial of the urn. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument. Cremation niches in columbariums are also available at many cemeteries. They offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect.
If you wish to have your ashes scattered somewhere, it is important to discuss your wishes to be scattered ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the cremation ashes scattering ceremony, as they might want to let your funeral professional assist in the scattering ceremony. Funeral directors can also be very helpful in creating a meaningful and personal ash scattering ceremony that they will customize to fit your families specific desires. The services can be as formal or informal as you like. Scattering services can also be public or private. Again, it is advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.
Yes — Depending upon the cemetery's policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space.
Uncertainty about income tax issues can add to the stress experienced from the death of a spouse. You should meet with your family attorney and/or tax advisor as soon as possible to review your particular tax and estate circumstances. Bring a detailed list of your questions to the meeting. If you do not have an attorney or tax advisor, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 for answers to specific tax questions.
There are a number of options available, including: