Many are unaware that in most states they are not legally required to use the services of a funeral home to plan and conduct a funeral.
People often choose a particular funeral home or cemetery because it is close to their homes, because they have served the family before, or on the recommendation of someone they trust. But those consumers who limit their search to a single funeral home may be risking paying more than necessary for the funeral or may be narrowing down their options for items and services.
Comparison of prices and options for choosing a funeral home / funeral service provider
Comparing prices and options to make a purchase decision does not necessarily have to be difficult, especially if it is done before the need arises. Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about the funeral arrangements you want.
The law states that if you visit a funeral home in person, the funeral service provider must provide you with a general price list detailing the cost of items and services offered by the company. The law provides that if specific prices for caskets or outer burial containers are not included in the general price list, the funeral director must show you a price list for those items before showing you the caskets or containers themselves.
Many funeral homes will be happy to mail their price lists to you, although this is not a legal obligation.
When comparing prices, aside from taking into account the cost of each item individually, be sure to consider the total cost of all items and services as a whole. All funeral homes should have price lists for all essential items and services for the different types of funeral arrangements they offer. Many funeral companies offer funeral “packages” that can be cheaper than purchasing the items or services individually. The offering of these types of “packages” is permitted by law, provided that they also provide you with a detailed price list per item. But you won’t be able to correctly compare the total cost of a funeral unless you use the price lists.
In addition, there is a growing trend for business consolidation in the funeral home industry, and many neighborhood funeral homes that appear to be locally owned are actually owned by a national corporation.
Full “traditional” funeral service
This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a “traditional” funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and a formal funeral service, the use of a hearse or hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and the cemetery. , as well as the burial, disposition or cremation of the remains.
In general, this is the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to charges for basic funeral services, this type of funeral usually includes the cost of embalming and dressing the body; the rental of a funeral home room for the viewing or service; and the use of vehicles to transport the family in case they do not use their own cars. The costs of the coffin, the cemetery plot or crypt, and other funeral items and services should also be calculated.
There is no wake service or visitation and therefore it is not necessary to embalm the remains. Costs include charges for basic funeral home services, as well as transportation and body care, the purchase of a casket or container for the final disposal of the remains, and a cemetery plot or crypt. When the family chooses to witness the burial in the cemetery, the funeral home typically charges an additional fee for the service at the grave site.
The cremated remains, called ashes, are placed inside an urn or other container. There is no wake or visitation. Direct cremation generally costs less than the “traditional” full service funeral. The cost includes charges for basic funeral home services as well as transportation and body care. The charge for cremation may be included in the service or, if the funeral home does not have its own crematorium, it may be added as an additional charge. A charge will also apply for the urn or other container to hold the cremated remains. The cost of the cemetery plot or crypt is included only when the remains are buried or otherwise disposed of in a cemetery.