At an average cost of $7,000, funerals are one the more expensive purchases made by consumers. During an emotionally-charged time it can be easy to spend more than might be necessary. Better Business Bureau recommends the following advice for navigating the funeral process.
Most funeral providers offer a variety of package plans that include products and services that are most commonly sold. However, it's important to remember that no package is obligatory and it's important to take the time to find the individual products and services that you prefer. The "Funeral Rule," enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if asked, over the phone.
As outlined by the Funeral Rule:
- You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services that you want (with some exceptions).
- The funeral provider must state this “Rule” in writing on the general price list.
- If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
- The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket that you bought elsewhere.
- A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
Most importantly, don't be afraid to ask questions and read contracts before you sign. If you feel as if you are being pressured into buying something you do not want or need, ask to speak to a different funeral director or go to a different funeral home.
One way to reduce stress during a time of grief is pre-planning. The National Funeral Directors Association offers a "Bill of Rights for Funeral Pre-planning" that its members follow. You do not have to prepay for a funeral in order to pre-plan one, although there may be financial benefits to doing so.
BBB has Business Reviews on more than 1,350 funeral homes and mortuary service providers across North America, available for free at www.bbb.org/search.