What Kind of Funeral are You Planning?
Whether you are pre-planning your own funeral or making arrangements for someone else, you need to decide the type of funeral you want. Will the body be buried, cremated, or donated to science? What are you legally required to buy? Can you have an environmentally friendly or green burial? How much do you want to spend? It is important to think about these things in advance, not at a time when you are under emotional stress.
The Funeral Rule
The Federal Trade Commission enforces The Funeral Rule. According to this legislation, you are only required to buy the funeral goods and services that you want and need. You do not have to buy a package deal if it includes items you don't want.
Your Rights Under the Funeral Rule
* You have the right to buy only the services and items (such as caskets) that you want.
* You have the right to get price information over the phone and you do not have to give them your name, address or phone number in order to get the prices.
* You have the right to get a General Price List that you can keep.
* You also are entitled to a written list of the casket prices ... including the price of cheaper caskets that may not be on display.
* You have the right to know the price of the outer burial containers. They are not required by state law, at least in California; however, some cemeteries require them. You will want to know this before choosing a cemetery, expecially if cost is a concern.
* Before you pay for anything, you are entitled to a written statement that itemizes exactly what you are buying and the cost of each individual item. This statement should include an explanation of anything you are paying for that is required by the cemetery, crematory or law.
* You are entitled to choose an alternative to an expensive casket if you are planning a cremation. This alternative can be made of pressed wood, unfinished wood, cardboard or fiberboard.
* You have the right to provide the funeral home with a casket or urn that you have purchased somewhere else ... at Costco, for example. The funeral home cannot refuse to use it and they can't require that you be there to accept delivery.
* You have the right to refuse embalming if there is not going to be a public viewing. You can request that the body be refrigerated until it is buried or cremated, instead.
More Ways to Save Money on a Funeral
In addition to knowing your rights, there are other ways you can save money on the funeral expenses.
* Compare prices on caskets and on the use of a funeral home. These will probably be the most expensive items, and prices vary widely.
* Use the least expensive casket options. Those that have long warranties and other options are not necessary. No casket can permanently prevent decomposition.
* Avoid the expense of embalming and body preparation by doing without a public viewing. Instead you can opt for an immediate burial or direct cremation, which are the two least expensive options.
* You do not have to have a funeral service at a funeral home. Instead, you can have a service in a church, home or other location.
* If you are a veteran or an immediate family member, you may be eligible to be buried for free in a national cemetery. However, the family still needs to pay for private services, transportation, etc.
Even though this is a very emotional time, it will only be made worse if you end up spending more money than you can afford on the funeral of a loved one. Take the time to consider all the options, whether you are pre-planning your own funeral or planning one for someone you love.
If you are retired or planning to retire, you may also want to check out the tabs at the top of this article to find more information about Medical Concerns, Family Issues and Where to Retire in the United States and abroad.
"Funerals: Points to Consider," 2014 Answer Guide, the Orange County Council on Aging, page 126.
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