Today I'd like to talk about the nuts and bolts of funeral planning itself. In the future we'll discuss the actual funeral service and the eulogy and the etiquette of funeral home visitation and hosting. Today - how to get ready to die - - or how to prepare for a loved ones demise.
Many funeral homes offer a variety of “packages” for different kinds of funerals. When you arrange for a funeral, you have the legal right to buy each of the items included in their packages separately. In other words, if they offer something in their package that you don't want, there is no need to pay for it. Here are a few tips in dealing with the funeral home:
- Compare Funeral Home Offerings. This is the best reason for planning ahead. You don't need to make snap decisions. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Walking into the place in no way obligates you to use their services. As you shop and find out what each offers, remember that you can supply your own casket or urn. Interestingly, you can purchase such things at Costco and other retailers. You don't have to take what is in the funeral home showroom. Time is NOT of essence, so you can get what you want and probably save a fair amount of money.
- Request a price list. The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services. If they won't, walk away. They are trying to take advantage of you.
- Resist pressure to buy things you don't really want or need. The casket is going to be buried in the ground. Whether it is it is made of platinum or pine makes no difference in a very short time. A "water proof" vault will eventually take on ground water so, if not required by law in your locale, it is a wasted of money. "Earth to earth and dust to dust" takes place no matter how elaborate we might get. It's not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
- Google your rights - know the law. Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It's a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional. Do an internet search on "Funeral laws in (your state)"
- Apply shopping techniques. You can cut costs significantly by limiting the viewing/wake to one day or even one hour before the funeral. Also dressing your loved one in favorite clothes instead of costly burial clothing makes sense.
- Talk about the plan. Shopping for funeral home services in advance allows you to comparison shop without time constraints, creates an opportunity for family discussion, and lifts some of the burden from the family.