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Negotiating With A Funeral Director – What Funeral Directors May Not Tell You

No one wants to be in the position of needing a funeral director, let alone negotiating with a funeral home, but it is inevitable. Additionally, in your time of grief,most people are not willing to ‘shop around’ nor negotiate prices.

When you add grief, emotion and time constraints to a funeral director saying funerals aren’t just about the deceased, they are about the living. Funeral directors are business people, not clergy members. A funeral director may also say that burying a loved one provides support and healing to the family. Essentially they are implying not short-change the deceased nor yourself. Many consumer advocates want to alert you that funeral directors make a living from the expenses associated with funerals.

The most important tip – have a friend negotiate with the funeral home on your behalf.

Plan Ahead

By planning in advance and buying burial insurance to cover the funeral costs protects family members from the unpleasant job of negotiating services as they grieve for a loved one.

The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is about $8,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Cemetery services, including the gravesite and vault or liner, can cost an additional $3,000, says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

Your Funeral Services Rights as a Consumer

The first step in negotiating funeral costs with a funeral director is understanding your consumer rights. Funeral service is regulated at both the national and state levels. At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides for price disclosure and consumer protection through the “Funeral Rule.”

Funeral Cost Negotiation – The General Price List: The General Price List (GPL) is required by the Funeral Rule and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This rule states that you do not have to accept the prices on the General Price List of a specific package recommended by a funeral home. You will receive a copy of the funeral home’s General Price List, for your retention, when making an in-person inquiry about funeral products and/or funeral services.

Funeral Cost Negotiation – Shop By Phone: Upon request, you will be provided funeral price information over the telephone.

Funeral Cost Negotiation – Prices Aren’t Fixed: Most people simply believe that the prices stated on the GPL is the final deal on the cost of a funeral and isn’t negotaiable. It is negotiable. Under the Funeral Rule you can purchase only the services you want.

Funeral Cost Negotiation – Summary Of Expenses: Funeral directors are required to give you a written, itemized price list for their products and services, according to the “Funeral Rule” enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The list will include their “basic services fee,” which all customers must pay and can range from $500 to $5,000 but usually costs between $1,000 and $2,000, Slocum says. It covers the professional services of the funeral director and staff and can include planning, permits, death certificate copies, storage of the body, and coordination with the cemetery or crematory.

The list will include their “basic services fee,” which all customers must pay and can range from $500 to $5,000 but usually costs between $1,000 and $2,000, Slocum says. It covers the professional services of the funeral director and staff and can include planning, permits, death certificate copies, storage of the body, and coordination with the cemetery or crematory.

Funeral Cost Negotiation – Three Sides To The Funeral Process:

There are three sides to understanding the funeral process and thus the related costs associated with a funeral

1. Funeral Services
Basic service of the funeral director and staff
Body transport and removal
Embalming
Refrigeration
Dressing and casketing
Visitation service
Church service
Graveside service
Hearse transport

2. Funeral Merchandise
Casket
Urn
Book
Folders
Prayer cards
Casket cross
Vault
Marker
Flowers

3. Funeral Cash Advances
Funeral escorts
Church fees
Cemetery charges
Death certificates
Airline charges
Permits and fees

Now, of the three items listed above, the one most likely to be negotiated in price are the funeral services.

“Cash advances” are non-negotiable. These are outside of the funeral home charges that are paid to third parties.

The Cost Of A Burial Casket

This is discussed elsewhere on the site, but caskets are the highest cost, with the most mark-up. You really don’t need a gold encrusted vessel for your loved one. You should be able to purchase a nice casket for under $1,000.

Funeral Cost Negotiation – Just Ask

Some ‘required’ funeral services may not be necessary. Funeral directors may require you to buy services that are not really necessary under the laws in your state. For example, a funeral home may say embalming is necessary for a wake. But the FTC says no state routinely requires embalming unless the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time. If the arrangements will be delayed, ask about refrigeration to preserve the body.

Simply ask the funeral director which costs can be cut out and which costs can be reduced.

Also inquire about cremation. Cremations average $3,200, about half the average cost of a traditional funeral. A creamtion urn can cost as little as about $20, and you can buy one at a number of places online, including the websites of major retailers such as Costco.

Nearly 41% of all deaths engage in cremation.

 

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