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Understanding Funeral Packages and Columbarium Prices

by Dhriti

Factors Influencing Columbarium Prices

The most significant factor which determines the cost of a niche in a columbarium is its location. An exclusive, high-brow district will definitely have higher priced columbariums and vice versa. In some cases, the cost might differ within the same columbarium. Those niches situated on the lower levels are usually priced higher than those on the higher levels. This is because they are easier to access and are more convenient for the elderly. Niches situated near auspicious pillars and at bends of corridors are priced higher because they are considered more “prosperous”. Size and design of the niche plays an important role in determining its cost. The larger and more ornamented the niche, the higher its cost. Simple niches are generally cheaper and these are usually the niches which are not immediately visible as they are situated behind the regular niches. The cost of these niches are lower as they are usually used by the less prestigious or the deceased servants of wealthy families. The amenities and facilities provided by the columbarium management also affect the price of the niches. A well-maintained environment with a good security and a reliable maintenance service can cost more. There are also some costly columbariums which provide services like elegantly furnished waiting rooms and butler service. Such services are clearly not needed by most but the higher class loves to have such services around. The costs of these services are also included in the prices of the niches. Finally, the demand and availability of niches often causes an escalation of price. If a particular columbarium is favored by many, there will often be a price increase for new niches to exploit this opportunity to earn more. High demand can also cause shortages of niches. In this case, the prices of existing niches will also be raised. Prices are not likely to decrease unless the popularity of the columbarium decreases.

Location of the Columbarium

As such, columbarium prices can vary greatly across the board. Those with premium locations such as temples and churches may command a high price for its niches. Niche prices at government columbaria are kept affordable for the masses and are known to many as the cheapest alternative. The cost of niches here can be as low as $800 and can go up to $2000. Niche prices at private columbaria can range from $1500 to $10000 or more depending on the location and its reputation. This puts them out of reach from the masses and is only an affordable option for some people.

Columbarium, being similar to real estate property, is greatly determined by its location. Those situated in prime areas with high human traffic such as temples, churches, and memorial parks are highly sought after. The convenience and easy access to such locations are a great pull factor for many families. The tranquil and serene surroundings of columbaria located in hills or mountains can also provide a conducive environment for remembrance and prayers. Such locations are often priced at a premium compared to those situated at void decks of HDB flats. Nowadays, with land scarce in Singapore, columbaria are being located in MRT stations and within void decks of HDB flats, which theoretically increases the supply of niches but may not be the most conducive location for remembrance and prayers. Such a location may also subject the niches to human traffic and noise, which may be a significant turn off for some people.

Size and Design of the Columbarium

Columbarium niches come in a variety of sizes and designs to cater to different needs and budgets. The more costly niches are usually larger in size and are made from premium materials with intricate designs. Essentially, the larger and more elaborately designed niches will cost more compared to the smaller, simpler ones. Sometimes, the design of the entire columbarium building is a factor that influences the price of the niche. For example, a niche located in a garden niche wall or within a chapel or air-conditioned building would certainly cost more compared to a niche located in an open columbarium area. Some religious or privately operated columbaria are part of a larger mortuary or church building complex, located on-site where there are other funeral and interment facilities. The overhead of these facilities will no doubt be factored into the price of the niches to ensure cost recovery. Finding a niche of the right size and design at the right price and in a preferred location might be rather challenging. It may take some time and effort to find one that best satisfies your needs and budget. Some may even consider purchasing one off a pre-construction sale of a niche in a columbarium building that is to be constructed. The advantage is that prices are usually lower compared to actual completed niche prices and there is a potential saving. However, there are also risks involved such as construction abandonment or delays. Always have a clear understanding of refund policies and what would happen in such events before considering such purchases.

Amenities and Facilities Provided

Columbariums located within government-run facilities are generally cheaper than those run by private or religious organizations. The niche prices at government-run columbariums start from $1000, while niche prices at private or religious columbariums may go up to $2500 – $3000. This is largely due to the fact that private or religious organizations have to bid for land and then build or develop the columbarium at their own expense. This would invariably result in higher niche prices as they attempt to recoup land and building costs. Niche prices may also increase when the columbarium is located in an upscale or elite district. An example would be the government-run Mandai Columbarium, which is located near Upper Bukit Timah and is considered to be an elite district. Pricing is still not known for the Mandai Columbarium, but niche prices would likely be higher than other government-run locations due to the location in an elite district. The design of the columbarium also influences niche prices. Well-designed columbariums with tasteful layouts, colorful surroundings, and good ventilation may charge higher niche prices compared to drab and simple-looking columbariums. An example would be the government-run Choa Chu Kang Nicropolis, which is a large, modern, and well-designed facility that charges niche prices of $2000.

Demand and Availability of Niches

Niches in a columbarium are priced according to the basic laws of supply and demand. An understanding of the availability of niches and the factors which influence demand are necessary to fully appreciate the pricing of niches. In certain European and Asian countries where columbaria are the main form of post-death memorial owing to land scarcity, there may be long waiting lists and heavy competition for niches. In countries where plots are more common and cremation is less favored, demand for niches may be lower. It is not uncommon for niches in the former to be passed down as an inheritance and for families to include acquiring a niche in their future financial planning. When high levels of competition exist, it is likely that the price of niches will increase. This may be disadvantageous towards low income individuals or unattached elderly people who may find themselves squeezed out of the market and resorting to storing urns at home. The idea of “booking ahead” or “pre-need” purchasing of niches is likely to become more prevalent in such societies. High demand and competition in some situations has led to certain Columbaria unscrupulously over-selling niches or resorting to the common Asian “double urn” where an urn is placed on top of another within the same niche to increase availability. Conversely, in situations where niches are oversupplied, prices may decrease and Columbaria may find themselves making a loss. Niches which remain unsold over an extended period of time may fall into disrepair or be converted into storage spaces in attempts to make use of the space. This, in turn, will have a negative effect on the perception and quality of the Columbarium, often resulting in a vicious cycle of decreased demand and further price cuts. With increased availability of niches, there is potential for charity groups or social services organizations to purchase a large number of niches to provide low-cost or subsidized niches to the needy. This has been seen in Singapore where there are plans to provide an initial 10% of the niches in a new government Columbarium at a lower cost to eligible residents.

Components of a Funeral Package

Planning for the funeral can sometimes take a few days, and it involves discussing with your family members to decide what they want. The funeral director will advise you on the steps required and give you various options to choose from to customize the funeral service. The key parts of a funeral service include setting the date and time of the wake, burial or cremation, deciding on the venue, preparing and publishing the obituary, obtaining death certificates, and arranging the necessary documentation and permits. Social and religious considerations can be factored into the funeral service and location. A budget to meet the various needs should be planned, and it is important to stick to the budget when choosing the different services available. A range of package deals for different components of the funeral may be available with the funeral director. Ensure that you can customize the package and only pay for what you need.

Funeral service planning is an important beginning to the funeral. A well-planned funeral service can be a very meaningful experience for the family, and it helps to establish the reality and finality of the death. Taking the time to think of what you really want for the funeral service will help to ensure that it can be a worry-free experience for your family and it will be a personal meaningful experience.

A funeral package consists of several components that make up the entire funeral. These components can be critical and play a huge role in determining the overall quality of the funeral. It is important to understand and know what each of these components entail. Pricing and packages for each component will differ with every funeral director, so be sure to source out different quotations.

Funeral Service Planning

So what happens at a funeral? The aspect of service planning depends on the family’s cultural, religious, and personal preferences. It may include one or more of the following: a visitation prior to the service, a service at the funeral home or a place of worship, or a service at the graveside. Often, a catered event will follow the funeral or memorial service. The event may be held in the home of a family member or friend, a place of worship, or a reception hall chosen by the family. An event of this nature allows the family to continue the fellowship with others who have supported them through the funeral service. Having food at this time is always a good idea as it makes the event feel less like a formal gathering. It also helps those who find it hard to express their sorrow to do so in a less formal environment. This, in turn, would allow the family to express its appreciation to those who have traveled from near and far to pay their respects. This begins to touch on the idea of closure, which is essential to those who are grieving. A service may take place weeks after the date of death, particularly if the remains had been cremated. This can be organized in the same way as a traditional funeral service but only involves the ceremonial aspect, as there is no need to meet with the funeral director.

Casket Selection

Families can choose from a wide variety of caskets for the funeral service. If the deceased is to be cremated, the family may wish to rent a casket for the viewing and funeral service. Ask your funeral director to explain the range of casket prices available. Caskets are constructed from many types of materials, including steel, various types of wood, and others made of materials such as copper and bronze. The interior fabric also comes in various styles and colors. These can all be considerations for the family. The funeral provider should provide an itemized price list of all caskets available. If the funeral provider does not have the casket you are requesting, they must provide it for you if you supply the casket no later than the day and time of services. For those who select cremation for themselves or a loved one, columbarium niche or cremation plots are available. These can be indoor or outdoor and hold the urn. Some families who choose cremation scatter the ashes in a place that was significant to the deceased. In these cases, a family may simply choose to have an urn to use for the memorial service. An urn is a decorative container for cremated remains. This can be placed in a church, chapel, or in a home. Urns are available in many styles and materials. The same casket selection considerations apply to urns. A full-sized urn is used to hold all of the ashes, while families of the deceased may choose to purchase “keepsake” urns that hold only a small portion of the ashes and are often used by family members as a treasured remembrance.

Funeral Venue and Setup

A setting presents the mood and tone of the funeral at the time of visitation and the ceremony. The funeral venue may consist of several locations, including a church, temple, funeral home chapel, cemetery, or even a family home. The funeral setup at each venue is comprised of several essential and several optional elements. At a church or temple, the setup may include the use of an altar, including an altar cloth, cross, and candelabra. At a funeral home, the setup may include an arrangement of the deceased’s photos and memorabilia. At a cemetery, it is important to verify that the setup includes a tent to cover the site in the case of inclement weather and also some form of seating to accommodate the attendees. Family homes are usually less formal, and the setup can range from simple to elaborate. In consideration of the location and setup of the services, it is important that the package selected covers the essential elements and reflects the wishes of the family. This may require some level of customization. Some packages may only provide a rental item when the family really desires to purchase an item. An item such as an altar piece can be very significant to specific religious groups. Other packages may consider photos and memorabilia as being a waste of flowers. A good understanding of the available options can help families allocate their resources effectively to get what they want.

Floral Arrangements and Decorations

Something most would consider essential to any funeral is the floral arrangements, fitting into any culture and religion. The true function of flowers is to serve as a visual expression of sympathy, respect, and love, but many are unaware of the significance each type of flower and design holds. It is believed that flowers act as an external expression of respect and internally, an emotional tribute to the spirit of the deceased. The tradition of adorning the casket with flowers is typically reserved for the closest family members, using half-couch casket sprays; for everyone else, full-couch casket sprays are most appropriate. By the process of using flowers in an attempt to lighten the mourners’ hearts and lift the spirits of the deceased, so a bright and happy life can be remembered, the use of optimistic flowers such as roses, carnations, and frangipanis are encouraged. To signify areas of the funeral chapel or church where so-called “goodbyes” are given, arrangements of flowers should be suitably placed in the entryway, on and around the doors, and the area where the casket is placed. Measures can be taken to preserve the survival and aesthetics of the flowers with the use of flower sealants and decorative display, it would be of interest to ask what will be done with the flowers after the funeral has concluded. In many cases, especially with Chinese and Japanese cultures, the floral arrangements and decorations will be sent to the grave. It serves as a reminder to the family of what was done in honor of the deceased and that the spirits have not been forgotten. In recent years, with the growing acceptance of cremation, many have given the idea of laying flowers on the Columbarium as an alternative to reserving physical land for a grave. Anyone who does so should be mindful that only certain flowers are allowed to be placed on the Columbarium, and a good portion of them must be artificial.

Funeral Hearse and Transportation

Funeral hearse is a specialized vehicle that is used to transport the deceased to the cemetery. It will be accompanied by the funeral director, family members, and other relatives and friends. Limousines may also be used at times to follow the hearse. The hearse is usually provided by the funeral director. Some may confuse the hearse with the ambulance service for transporting the deceased. The price for the ambulance service is much cheaper compared to the cost of hiring a hearse. The local authority in charge of cemeteries will usually require a booking to be made for cremations. During the wait for the actual burial or cremation date, the body of the deceased can be stored at the mortuary refrigerator in the hospital or at the mortuary services provided by the funeral directors. This brings us to the subject of embalming and dressing of the deceased, which are not only important when there is a long wait before the actual burial or cremation, but these services allow the family of the deceased to have a final look at their passed loved one in better condition session. Under certain circumstances, especially when the deceased is a non-Muslim, it may be mandatory to make the above arrangement, which leads us to the conclusion that the embalming and dressing of the deceased may be a service worth considering. High transportation costs can be the deciding factor as to whether the deceased be transported to another state or country for burial. This may be the case with non-Muslims and also Muslims with the availability of the Halal Mortuary service, where the funeral services are not only restricted to local Malays.

Understanding the Cost Breakdown

With these costs in mind, there is a significant amount of money to be spent for funeral-related services and products. Since most of the money spent will be in a short period of time, it is important for the family to consult a budget to minimize any financial concerns and pressure at a later time.

Most cemeteries will require a burial vault when a casket is to be placed in the ground. Vaults can range from $700 to $5,000 and require a specific grave size, so it is important to acquire a specific vault before the purchase of the grave site. Additional outer burial containers are required for two grave sites. These containers can vary from a simple concrete box to a more elaborate mausoleum structure, thus this cost can range anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000. A typical Columbarium niche will cost around $1,800.

Services at Pine Manor and Dahlonega are the least expensive venues. A traditional funeral at these selected venues can range from $3,000 to $4,000. Casket prices can range anywhere from around $2,000 to well beyond $8,000. These costs are determined entirely by the type of casket selected and a personal budget set by the client. An urn can be purchased for as little as $35 or as much as $2,500. Cash advance items pertaining to the cemetery can cost anywhere from $1,500 up to $2,000. All of these variable costs can significantly affect the final price for the family.

A variety of service and merchandise professional service fees are involved in the process of making funeral arrangements and conducting the service. These fees may include services such as the coordination of the funeral details with the church, cemetery and crematory; preparing and filing the necessary notices and authorizations; obtaining the necessary permits; and coordinating with the clergy. These services require consumable products that are often not visible to the consumer. Cash advance items are services or merchandise that the funeral home will pay on the client’s behalf. These items may include cemetery or crematory services, death certificates, or newspaper notices. These fees will be added to the total cost of the funeral.

Professional Service Fees

In the funeral industry, professional service fees are the costs associated with managerial and professional services provided by the funeral home, rather than the facilities and the overhead. This would include the coordination of the funeral, including arranging the necessary permits and death certificate copies, and the services of the funeral director and their support and administrative staff. Professional service fees can vary greatly between firms, as some are more able to streamline processes through centralization and automation, while others may need to charge more due to their operating costs, or to maintain margins providing quality services for the community. Some funeral homes offer a basic service fee, which would be inclusive of their professional services fee and overhead costs, with the inclusion of casket, facilities, transportation, etc. at an additional cost. While separating the costs of professional services and overhead from other aspects of the funeral package may complicate the cost comparison for consumers, it would allow for greater price and service level flexibility between funeral providers, and that the services that are paid for are those that are received. An excerpt from the FTC Funeral Rule states that “Except for immediate burial or direct cremation, the consumer has the right to receive a General Price List (GPL) at the beginning of any discussion of funeral arrangements, and prior to the selection of any goods and services. The GPL facilitates price comparison and the selection of services, and enables the consumer to purchase only the goods and services they want and need.” An important factor regarding professional services is determining whether the funeral provider is an owner-operated/specialist firm or part of a chain or network. Owner-operated firms may offer a higher level of personalization and flexibility for the services provided but may be more expensive and have limited resources. A chain or network may offer greater resources and cost savings to the customer through standardized service offerings and centralization but may be less flexible in meeting the needs of the customer. This will have implications on the level of service and the type of service that is received relative to the cost, which will be reflected in the professional services fees.

Casket and Urn Costs

The cost of a casket can range from a simple $500 pressboard box to $20,000 or more for a handmade, top-of-the-line casket. The Funeral Rule requires providers to show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets. Keep in mind the following when considering a casket purchase: A lower-cost casket often has a protective interior “box” rather than a one-piece design, and a low-end casket can weigh much less (adding handling problems due to the unfamiliarity of such caskets by care center/celebration of life staff). Metal caskets are also frequently sealed off to protect the deceased from outside elements. Be sure to ask whether the casket you are considering has a protective seal and whether the seal is necessary. The air and water tight casket can help preserve the remains, but it may present a public health hazard by not allowing gases to escape from the casket, and the combination of a sealed casket and vault can create a floating effect if the area is subject to ground water at the cemetery. Ask your provider about the consequences of burial with a sealed casket and vault and about alternative solutions to these protective devices. An urn can be purchased from a funeral home/florist, a central manufacturing location, or purchased online. Urns are made from a wide variety of materials, including biodegradable options for eco-friendly services. Pricing is also dependent on the size of the urn and the material used. A typical urn purchase described by the National Funeral Directors Association has an average cost of $280.

Venue Rental and Setup Charges

Venue packages offered by mortuaries utilizing a chapel can contain a wide range of items within their descriptions. The most basic offerings will usually only contain the “use of the chapel for the funeral service” for a specific amount of time, usually about 2-4 hours. This is actually considered a rental fee and with this type of package there usually isn’t any setup time allocated. With a package such as this, you can expect that the staff will just do basic setups such as removal of items not related to the service and setup of chairs. There usually isn’t an extra charge for this service as it is already included in the rental cost of the chapel. For packages which are more comprehensive, venue rental and setup will be priced as separate items. Setup costs here can again vary a lot and usually it is the level of setup that will determine the overall cost. Simple setups such as placement of the casket at the altar and chairs for attendees may only cost a few hundred dollars, however more elaborate setups involving preparation of video, photo displays, upgraded floral arrangements, and placing of memorial items can cost in excess of a thousand dollars. This is another area where costs can get somewhat out of hand so it is essential to have a clear understanding of what setup costs are entailed and how much time is allocated for staff to completion of setups. The duration of rental for the venue is also another critical factor with additional costs being incurred for services exceeding average time frames. It is also important to note that the setup costs and venue rental costs are usually dictated by the amount of staff time that is being used, so these prices are not always fixed and can sometimes be negotiated if you are willing to sacrifice some service quality.

Floral Expenses

Flowers can be a significant expense for a funeral. Many Singaporeans feel that it is important to have flowers at a funeral. This gesture of respect is also culturally sensitive, with the Chinese believing that flowers and wreaths symbolize the highest form of respect for the dead. Relative to other funeral expenses, flowers can however be quite costly due to the decorative nature and short lifespan of the product. In particular, large wreaths can start from $150 each and last for less than a week. A typical funeral can easily use up 6-8 large wreaths, simply for decoration at the wake. Families may have to spend more if the deceased was a prominent figure in society as a mark of respect. Floral expenses can thus range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the budget. It is advisable to consider the amount and type of flowers needed, relative to the budget and other funeral priorities. Often, florists will suggest from an extensive range of beautiful but costly products. Families should not feel obligated to say yes to the first price quoted. Prices for similar wreaths can vary by up to 50% between different florists. Shop around and find a florist that provides good value for money. Although floral expenses are quite discretionary, it may be more meaningful to the family to use the saved funds for a lasting memory of the deceased, such as a donation to charity.

Transportation and Logistics Costs

Transportation and logistics of the deceased can often be overlooked as a part of the funeral cost. However, the charges for ambulances, funeral cars and even air transportation to return a deceased person to their home must also be considered. An important part of logistics would be the repatriation of a deceased person who had been living in a foreign country. Funeral repatriation is not always covered by travel insurance, and the family of the deceased could be faced with a large bill. This cost would need to be considered when planning the overall cost of the funeral. On a smaller scale, transporting the deceased and mourners to and from the funeral venue must also be considered. Using a hearse and limousines provided by the undertaker can be expensive, and would require fuel expenses and possibly even accommodation for drivers. With regards to the funeral attendees, assumption of their own transport costs may depend on the distance they are travelling to the funeral. It is important for family members to consider all transport costs for the logistics of the funeral and assess which are necessary and which are not. This would depend on how traditional the family’s custom is for a funeral. It is also necessary to assign someone with the responsibility of organising and overseeing transportation on the day of the funeral. This will help to ensure the smooth running of the logistics and prevent any wasted costs.

Tips for Managing Funeral Expenses

Preplanning and Prepayment Options

A pre-need contract is a written agreement between the consumer and a funeral home that provides for the purchase of a funeral service or merchandise at a later date. Pre-need contracts can be paid in a lump sum or by installments, and the funds can be held in a trust, an insurance policy, or transferred to a new state-approved option. The new option is a Totten trust, sometimes called “payable on death,” in which the consumer names the funeral director as beneficiary of the account. Both the principal and interest of the trust, insurance policy, or the money in the account can be used to fund the pre-need contract, but be sure you understand any limitations involved. Any pre-need contract and the funding mechanism for it must specify that the funeral or burial services and merchandise are fully guaranteed, and not simply price protected. Items that are price-protected are only guaranteed against inflation; fully guaranteed items are protected against inflation and any related price increases due to increased operating expense. If a contract is not fully guaranteed, the specific percentage of the price increase that it covers must be stated on the contract. If the contract is for merchandise only, there should be an explanation of any warranties and whether the goods are insured. A pre-need contract can be cancelled at any time, and the consumer or his/her survivors are entitled to a refund of all pre-need funds and any assignments, with no penalties or financial losses. When a pre-need contract is in effect and the consumer moves to a different location, the contract can be transferred to another funeral director or provider. If the provider goes out of business, the contract is still effective and guaranteed by the Funeral Directors and Embalmers Trust Guaranty Corporation of the State of California. This corporation is in charge of protecting the public in a variety of ways concerning pre-need contracts. Always ask the funeral director to explain any part of a pre-need contract that you might not understand, and keep copies of all signed contracts and their attachments for your records.

Comparing Prices and Services

Every funeral home has a general price list (GPL) that serves as a consumer menu for goods and services. The GPL is supposed to make it easier for consumers to comparison shop and to purchase, on an itemized basis, only the goods and services they want. Unfortunately, some funeral homes make price comparison a complicated task. A 1989 survey of San Francisco area funeral homes by the Funeral Consumers Alliance discovered widespread resistance to disclosing price information over the phone, in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule. Only 38 of 135 funeral homes called (28%) were willing to give price information over the phone, and 25 of the 38 did so reluctantly. The 1988 survey of Austin, Texas funeral homes referenced above also found substantial resistance to giving price information over the phone. The caller was able to obtain a GPL from only 18 of 40 funeral homes (45%), and at 10 of the 18 homes, it was necessary to ask repeatedly for the GPL. Experiences such as these make specific price inquiries difficult for the average bereaved consumer. Those who actually visit funeral homes to inquire about prices find that the GPL, though beneficial in theory, often lacks price specificity, making effective price comparison difficult. Prices of “casket” and “outer burial container” entrapments are frequently provided in ranges with model numbers that are not obtainable elsewhere. Statements such as “effective price policy prevents giving price information over the phone” and “our prices are as low as anyone’s in the city” were common responses to a survey of Chattanooga, Tennessee area funeral homes. High end and low end package pricing presented another dilemma for price shoppers in a study of Toledo, Ohio area funeral homes. None of the funeral homes surveyed could provide price comparisons on a series of specific funeral arrangements when given other funeral homes’ prices.

Considering Alternatives to Traditional Funerals

Anatomical donations are an often overlooked cheap or cost-free alternative. Because many people are not well informed about the specifics of anatomy donation and its effects on the subsequent handling of remains, specific assistance is needed to make clear the procedures and time obligations of various programs. A diverse array of functional and financial barriers can prevent donation from going through, so you should not make firm plans for a memorial service until you are certain when remains will be returned. Note that the 2004 Uniform Anatomical Gift Act is very different from the original 1968 act; it allows many organizations to profit from cadaveric donation.

Considering alternatives to traditional funerals: Consider cremation. You can freely obtain information about it from various funeral service consumer alliances and societies. Family tradition and the deceased’s wishes may make cremation either an obvious or a shunned option. Be sure to work from the knowledge that an “alternative” is on equal footing for value with any form of disposition which the funeral industry may call “traditional”. Simple caskets and immediate burials are pushed because they are less expensive for the funeral home to provide, not because they are somehow inferior choices for those left behind. Cremation societies exist in many states to organize price-oriented consumer choice for this option. These societies can often save you money even if there are no local crematoria, as they can make arrangements with out-of-state crematoria.

Discussing Budget Constraints with Funeral Directors

Once you provide the funeral director with a price range or specific budget, inquire about the level of flexibility in their pricing. An itemized statement for the funeral selections will allow you to see the cost breakdown and evaluate where cost savings can be made. Since funerals are a personal and private event, small cost-effective services can be just as meaningful as a more expensive service. High quality does not always have to be synonymous with high cost. Education and experience are valuable attributes when selecting a funeral, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be sure you are comfortable with the funeral director and that all changes in pricing are properly documented.

Specific legal provisions give you the right to: – Choose only the items you desire. – Decline embalming. – Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation. – Purchase a casket or urn from a source other than the funeral home.

Funeral directors can’t offer assistance in reducing a bill unless families are up-front and honest about their financial situation. Don’t be persuaded into funeral arrangements that you cannot afford. The most important thing to remember is to take your time in deciding what is best for you and the deceased. If possible, research funeral options to avoid making decisions under duress at a time of grief. It is in the legal rights of the consumer to select the items and services that you want or decline others. Price information must be provided in person and, if requested, over the phone. If you inquire about funeral arrangements over the phone, ask for a general price list to be sent to you in the mail.

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