Few of us are capable of making clear and sound decisions in the days after a loved one has passed.
Funeral home customers—grieving family members—are usually not in the best state of mind to be making big financial decisions, which is exactly what they must do when a loved one dies. It’s easy to let emotions and costs get out of control.
AZ Central’s recent article, “Why this group wants you to know the cost to bury your loved one,” says that what’s even worse, only one out of six funeral homes post full price lists online. This lack of data makes it hard to compare costs, according to a new survey by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America. Without the ability to shop online, you may spend far more than you planned or needed on a burial or cremation.
Grieving people regularly don’t even address the cost, only to be surprised when the bill comes.
The cost of a funeral service can vary by thousands of dollars, even in the same city. For example, in Tucson, funeral homes that fully disclosed prices on their websites charged about $3,500 for a full-service funeral, a 2017 report by FCA and CFA found—about $1,100 less expensive for the same service than at other funeral homes in the city. A simple cremation with a container cost about $765 at Tucson funeral homes whose prices were displayed online, a savings of $230 over funeral homes without transparency.
You can get a full price list by visiting a funeral home in person or requesting costs over the phone. That’s a federal law. Arizona law requires funeral homes to provide price lists upon request by mail.
To save even more, you can research costs ahead of time and talk with family members about your funeral preferences. You can then put those decisions in writing. Planning now could save your family a significant amount of money later.
California became the first state to mandate that funeral homes post services they offer on their websites five years ago, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently reviewing its funeral home regulations. Consumer groups are advocating to the FTC and 49 other state legislatures to take action requiring the online posting of prices. They also want the FTC and states to require prices to be prominently displayed on the funeral home's homepage.
If you see that the prices are hidden deep within the website, or, as reported in the article, prices are posted in barely readable small font, it may be wise to look for another funeral home.
Reference: AZ Central (February 4, 2018) “Why this group wants you to know the cost to bury your loved one”