The Costs of Dying Author:    Posted under: Life InsuranceLife Insurance questions answered


People often lament about the cost of living. The budget is stretched to near breaking point with bills to pay, food to provide for families, clothes to purchase as the kids grow bigger and faster every year – the list goes on and on and on. Then the sudden death of a loved one jolts you out of your routine and you are faced with having to face the future without them. You have to deal with the grief as the realization of your loss sets in.

What’s more, you’re confronted by the many decisions that have to be made quickly amidst the emotional turmoil that death brings. What kind of funeral should you hold in order to honor your loved one properly? What arrangements need to be made? Which funeral provider should you use? Then it dawns on you, how much will this all cost?

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral, including a casket and vault, costs about $6,000, although “extras” like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards or limousines can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Many funerals run well over $10,000.”

That figure may come as a shock to you, but many people feel a compulsion to spend lavishly, often more than they can afford, on a funeral thinking it reflects how they feel for the deceased. Feelings of guilt often stop them from negotiating the cost of the funeral.

As stated by the FTC, traditional funerals can cost anywhere between $6,000-$10,000 and that is excluding the price of a plot. Cremation services can cost roughly $800-$2,000. These aren’t the only end-of-life costs to consider; unpaid debts, medical bills or federal or estate taxes might be lingering challenges that need to be faced although life insurance policies usually cover these costs.

A funeral’s cost would usually include, but is not limited to:

  • The funeral home’s basic fee – These include funeral planning, securing the necessary permits and copies of death certificates, preparing the notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties.
  • Charges for other services and products – These are costs for optional goods and services such as transporting the remains; embalming and other preparation; use of the funeral home for the viewing, ceremony or memorial service; use of equipment and staff for a graveside service; use of a hearse or limousine; a casket, outer burial container or alternate container; and cremation or interment.
  • Cash advances – These are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists. Some funeral providers charge you their cost for the items they buy on your behalf. Others add a service fee to their cost. The Funeral Rule requires those who charge an extra fee to disclose that fact in writing, although it doesn’t require them to specify the amount of their markup. The Rule also requires funeral providers to tell you if there are refunds, discounts or rebates from the supplier on any cash advance item.

Most funeral providers have their clients’ best interests at heart and strive to meet their needs professionally. But you have to be on the lookout for unscrupulous providers who seek to take advantage of their clients by overcharging and offering unnecessary services.

Fortunately, the FTC has enforced the Funeral Rule which requires funeral directors to provide detailed and enumerated prices personally or even over the phone if you so choose; and to present you with other goods and services they offer. Funeral providers may propose various packages of goods and services frequently selected by customers but you have the right to buy individual goods and services as you see fit when arranging a funeral. You do not have to agree to purchase a package that consists of items you do not want.

According to the Funeral Rule:

  • you have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • the funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • if state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • a funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

Source: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro19.shtm

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