Smart Steps for Funeral Planning
Many people dread the prospect of planning for a funeral, but a little forethought can ensure that your loved one receives the funeral he or she desires. It can also minimize unnecessary expenses and stress during a difficult time. Be aware that the expense of a funeral can rise very quickly. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost is more than $7,000 and many top $10,000 which does not include cemetery and monument expenses, flowers or obituaries.
What’s Really Wanted?
If possible, have a candid discussion now with older loved ones to find out exactly what kind of funeral they would like. If they favor cremation with their ashes spread in a favorite spot, for example, knowing this in advance will prevent you from spending a great deal of money on an elaborate funeral that would not have been the deceased’s preference. Having this discussion now can cut down on second guessing and possibly on the expenses.
No matter what you’re buying, it’s always a good idea to have an informed idea of what’s available and how much it will cost. It’s also smart to shop around and compare costs to get the best price. This is true with funerals, too. As part of your planning, call different funeral homes to see who has the best prices. This is also a good time to visit the most appealing places to see if you like the location and the people who run it. If you can find a funeral home run by knowledgeable, caring people, it’s more likely you will feel that the price you pay for a funeral is worthwhile.
Know Your Rights
It’s often difficult to make clear-eyed financial decisions immediately after a death in the family. That’s why there are a number of protections in place to help consumers in their dealings with funeral homes to ensure that no one takes advantage of bereaved loved ones. For example, under Federal Trade Commission regulations, the funeral home must give you a general price list detailing the cost of every item or service that you might need so that you can make choices that don’t leave you struggling to pay the funeral bill. You should also get a casket price list, since this is often one of the most expensive elements in a funeral. Be aware, too, that you should be able to supply your own casket or urn without being charged a handling fee by the funeral home. In addition, you are not required to buy a full package of goods and services. Instead, the funeral home must let you select the items you really want. To learn more, the Federal Trade Commission site includes a special section on funeral rights at http://www.ftc.gov/funerals. In addition to federal consumer regulations, your state may also have separate funeral laws.
Be Familiar with Funeral Myths
The website of the Funeral Consumers Alliance at http://www.funerals.org also offers a wealth of information on your rights, including a self-help section with frequently asked questions. The site debunks some common funeral myths, such as the idea that prepaying for a funeral always makes the best economic sense.
Consult Your Local CPA
Families often find themselves faced with complicated financial decisions that must be made at stressful times. Your local CPA can help. Turn to him or her for advice on any of the tough financial questions facing your family. Check out Gordon Advisors at www.gordoncpa.com