Funeral planning: Be a smart consumer

Knowing your rights will save you money, help you resist pressure to buy services and merchandise you do not need, allow you to feel good about your choices and avoid emotional overspending.

Knowing your rights will save you money, help you resist pressure to buy services and merchandise you do not need, allow you to feel good about your choices and avoid emotional overspending.

by Stephanie Montgomery — 

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends are often confronted with dozens of decisions about the final arrangements. These decisions must be made quickly and often during a time of great emotional distress. Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral services or merchandise.

Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, personal preferences and cost. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be buried or cremated.

Among the choices you will need to make are whether to use a funeral provider, commonly called a funeral home. Most people do not realize they are not legally required to use a funeral home to plan and conduct a funeral. However, it is important to know the legal requirements involved.

The Funeral Service Educational Foundation and the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program are nonprofit organizations that can educate and assist you with funeral planning. If you decide to use a funeral provider, it is essential that you know your rights so you can be a smart consumer.

Because funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make, you have the right to compare prices and services so that the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one. The Federal Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, supports you as a smart consumer and enables you to “shop around” for funeral services and funeral merchandise. This law makes it easy for you to choose only the services and merchandise you want or need, and to pay only for those you select. Besides funeral homes, there are stores available that sell funeral merchandise so you can shop around and save money.

Knowing your rights will save you money, help you resist pressure to buy services and merchandise you do not need, allow you to feel good about your choices and avoid emotional overspending. You can apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases when planning a funeral.

 

Stephanie Montgomery is a healthcare professional. She and her husband, Dan Montgomery, own American Family Caskets, a Phoenix store selling quality funeral merchandise directly to the public. 602-943-7124 or www.americanfamilycaskets.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 4, August/September 2005.

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