“Funeral Shopping” – The Basics

Last week Forbes dove into a topic that families give little attention until the task is thrust upon them: picking burial and funeral vendors. For obvious reasons, most of us have little direct experience evaluating different options for quality or negotiating to receive the best value.

For starters, as the story points out, it is important to have a specific idea of what you want at the services before calling any funeral parlor director. That is because, without an idea ahead of time, you may be persuaded to purchase many different things that you do not truly need or want. Having detailed plans in place as part of a comprehensive estate plan ahead of time can help narrow the focus.

There is a lot of pressure in any sales situation, and it can be made worse when it comes to funeral services. When a certain item is offered by the funeral parlor, a family may feel as if not agreeing to the most expensive options reflects on the value of the one who passed away. Of course this is not true, but the pressure is there. Having one’s wishes laid one with clarity ahead of time takes away much of that burden from the surviving family.

Beyond being clear about wishes, it is also helpful to ask for a specific price list from the funeral parlor. It is easy to agree to many different services or features without appreciating the cost of each. As the story points out, by having a list in hand ahead of time, a family can weigh the value of each service with the cost to make the best choices on their own time after careful consideration.

Perhaps the most logical (but overlooked) tip is to shop around for services. Considering the emotional turmoil of the situation and time pressures, many families simply make a single call and go with whatever they hear. Even individuals who are normally prudent about getting the best deal fail to consider different options from different vendors when dealing with funeral services. This is a mistake. Prices vary considerably, and using a parlor just because your family has used it in the past or because it is close may result in significant over-payment. Assign someone to call around and get a feel for the basic price difference between a few relatively close options.

For more tailored advice about planning for these services, paying for them, and putting plans into place to ease the transition for family members, feel free to contact our estate planning attorneys today.

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