Editor: AfterTalk is about bereavement and grieving, which usually, but not always, begin with a death. Many of us are at that age where we might experience the death of a loved one, and have to go through all the arrangements required; but if it is our first, it is unlikely to be our last. So if you have a loved one who may be dying, or just know it’s going to happen to someone you love in the future, we recommend you read or listen to this two-part National Public Radio investigation of funeral costs and Funeral industry questionable practices. Just click on the green headline below.
Ellen Bethea at her home in Jacksonville, Fla. After her husband died, she paid $7,000 for her husband’s cremation and funeral. She was unaware that the same company offered the same cremation services for much less.
If you don’t want to read or hear the whole thing, here are NPR’s funeral shopping tips:
Funeral Shopping Tips
As a consumer, you’re likely at a significant disadvantage, and it’s not just because of your emotions. Prices are seldom online and it’s hard to know what to ask. Based on NPR’s reporting and tips from Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Federal Trade Commission, here are ways you can help level the playing field:
- Ask for prices of the specific items you want to buy. The federal government requires that 16 standardized goods and services appear on every funeral home’s general price list.
- If a loved one is near death, start looking at options in advance, when you’re not under pressure to make a decision. Make calls to funeral homes or drop by and ask for a general price list.
- If planning your own funeral, put your wishes in writing and discuss them with your family. Ask for itemized price quotes from the funeral homes you visit.
- When visiting a funeral home, bring along someone trustworthy, who is not grieving.
- Don’t disclose financial information about your inheritance or the size of your loved one’s insurance policy until you have settled on how much you will pay.
- Know the boundaries of your relationship with a funeral director or salesperson. While they may be empathetic, their first responsibility is to their business’ success. Also, salespeople may be working on commission, so they may have an interest in your paying as much as possible.