Things to think about when going to a funeral home:
- You can pre-plan without pre-paying.
Pre-planning your funeral and making final arrangements in advance is a great idea. It helps your family make difficult decisions during an emotional time. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that things are in order. However, it is not always necessary to pre-pay when you pre-plan your funeral. If you decide to pre-pay, be sure to look carefully at the contract and familiarize yourself with local and state laws.
- You can rent a cremation urn or casket for the memorial service.
Most funeral homes offer rentals that you can use for the funeral or memorial services. This can save on the costs of a casket or an urn from the funeral home. It can also save you on costly overnight shipping charges if you order a casket or urn online. You can often rent a high-end attractive casket for the public service without the high costs attached. You can then have the body buried in a less costly container or taken to the crematorium for cremation.
- Ask the funeral home for low-cost options.
Simply ask if they have more budget-friendly casket or urn options that fit your needs. By being upfront about what you want and need, the funeral home can better help you find a casket or urn that is suitable for you and your family.
- You can use an “alternative container” for cremation.
There is no law that you must use an urn or casket for cremation. Every provider of cremation services is required to tell you that alternative containers (such as cardboard) are available. Or perhaps you have a special container that you would like to use for cremation rather than purchasing an urn.
- Veterans with honorable discharge can get free burial services.
The National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers offers free burial and other services (such as perpetual care and personalized headstones) to veterans and their spouses. The funeral related services are pre-specified and generally only apply to burial at a national cemetery. To see if this may work for your situation, you can visit https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/index.asp.
- Ask for a price list for all services.
Many funeral homes offer packages designed to help you save when purchasing a variety of services. However, these packages may have services that you do not want. If you ask, funeral homes are required to provide an itemized pricing list for all services they offer. You can even do this over the phone, as consumer protection laws require that the funeral home provide funeral costs over the phone. It may be cheaper to pay only for the services you want and need rather than purchasing a package.
- Most services are optional.
You may be uncertain about what you really need. Or perhaps the wide array of options offered makes you feel like purchasing more services than necessary. Whatever the situation, remember that almost all services offered by the funeral home are optional.
- You can receive a written statement of costs before you pay.
It may be a good idea to ask the funeral home to provide you with a written statement and explanation of all costs associated with the funeral, burial, and/or cremation services you have chosen. This is helpful to make you sure you are not choosing services or products you do not want.
- Bring a friend.
It is a good idea to bring a friend with you as you are shopping for and deciding on funeral options. If you bring a friend who was not as close to the decedent, they can give helpful opinions that are not based on emotion.