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DeathWriting an ObituaryAn obituary includes a biographical outline and possibly a picture of the deceased. As early as possible, begin compiling the information for the obituary. Friends and family can help write this. Choosing a Funeral HomeHere are a few "starter" tips, questions and things to know when choosing a funeral home.Low-Cost Funeral OptionsToday's average funeral costs upwards of $7,755. Fortunately, there are ways to lower funeral costs. Average Funeral CostsHere is a list of the average costs of funeral items and services, taken from the National Funeral Directors Association 2010 General Price List Survey. Please contact your local funeral directors for a General Price List for prices in your area.Planning a Funeral Memorial FundsFamilies often want to set up memorial funds so money can be donated in memory of their loved one. If you are considering this, and are wondering where money can be donated, here are a few ideas to get you started.Choosing CremationHere are some starter questions if you choose to visit a crematorium (or what to ask your funeral director if you don't go yourself).Planning a Funeral Military HonorsMilitary Funeral Honors are provided whenever possible. Law mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family.Making Funeral ArrangementsMaking funeral arrangements involves many different tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, since many of these things happen simultaneously.Preparing a EulogyA eulogy is a tribute to a person's life, usually read at funerals or memorial services. Choosing a CasketCaskets hold the body before burial or cremation. Choosing OrganBody DonationIf your loved one requested organ donation or that his or her body be donated to a medical school, here are some things to know.Dividing Up Family HeirloomsWhat happens to possessions after the owner has passed on? Family members might battle over Mom's emerald earrings, Dad's golf clubs or even Grandma's yellow pie plate. Choosing a CemeteryYou will need to choose a location for burial or cremated remains if the deceased has not previously paid for a cemetery plot. You may wish to have a trusted friend or family member assist you in gathering and reviewing the information. Planning a Funeral 5 Common QuestionsHere are answers to common questions about planning a funeral.Common Estate and Inheritance Tax TermsCommon Estate and Inheritance Tax Terms These are simple, starter definitions for estate and inheritance taxes. Check with your financial advisor before doing anything. Estate Tax The Estate Tax is a transfer tax, which taxes the amount of wealth tr
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Choosing a Funeral Home

Here are a few "starter" tips and questions to ask when choosing a funeral home.

The Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, is a federal law that makes it easier for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements pre-need or at need.

Key Points

Funeral directors must give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone.

Funeral directors must give you additional information including a written price list about their goods and services before showing you the selections.

You have the right to buy individual goods and services as opposed to the various "packages" of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral offered by the funeral provider. (There are some exceptions.) The funeral provider must state this 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.

Questions to Ask When Meeting With a Funeral Director

What is the basic fee? (this fee should include the funeral director and staff)

The Funeral Rule allows funeral providers to charge a basic services fee that customers cannot decline to pay. The basic services fee includes services that are common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement. The fee does not include charges for optional services or merchandise, but does 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.

What type of services will you provide?

According to the International Cemetery and Funeral Association (ICFA), typically, the funeral director safeguards the deceased until final disposition, which includes embalming and restorative work.

Funeral directors arrange and provide an orderly series of events that finalize the funeral: the final disposition, and legal paperwork so the family can proceed forward. They provide the physical establishment for the above services.A growing number of funeral directors are trained as grief counselors.

What are the fees associated with any charges for other services and merchandise?

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.

How much are any needed cash advances and what do they include?

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.

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.

What is the total cost of the funeral (include required and additional fees and services)?

The funeral provider must give an itemized statement with the total cost of funeral goods and services you have selected when you are making the arrangements.

If the funeral provider doesn't know the cost of the cash advance items at the time, he or she is required to give you a written "good faith estimate."

This statement also must disclose any legal, cemetery or crematory requirements that you purchase any specific funeral goods or services.

What are your costs for the casket and do I need to use one purchased through your funeral home?

No funeral home can charge a fee for the customer using a casket bought elsewhere through an alternate source, ask a family member to be present for its delivery, or make funeral services contingent on purchasing a casket or outer container.

If there were no wishes for a certain type of casket, have a friend compare casket pricing from sources outside the funeral home. Prices for caskets can vary widely (from $500 up to $10,000 and more) depending on the material (metal, hardwood, semi-precious metals, fiberglass, plastics, steel, copper, bronze or wood), but all should come with a written warranty. Casket costs vary by accessories and features.

Is embalming required before burial?

According to the International Cemetery and Funeral Association (ICFA), embalming is not required for burial but may depend on factors such as

  • whether the family has selected a public viewing with an open casket to enhance the deceased's appearance for a private family viewing
  • if the body is going to be transported by air or rail or
  • because of the length of time prior to the burial.

Who will transport deceased from the funeral home to house of worship to the cemetery, and family members to the house of worship and the cemetery?

The funeral home provides at a fee both hearse and limousine transportation and can manage this for you if needed.

You may choose your own company:
Transportation company
Contact Name
Phone
E-mail

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. These tips are from experts and people who have shared their real life advice; always check with appropriate professionals you trust in making your purchasing or life-related decisions.

Other Life Pages
DeathAverage Funeral Costs

Here is a list of the average costs of funeral items and services, taken from the National Funeral Directors Association 2010 General Price List Survey. Please contact your local funeral directors for a General Price List for prices in your area.

 Read More
Choosing a Casket

Caskets hold the body before burial or cremation.

 Read More
Choosing a Cemetery

You will need to choose a location for burial or cremated remains if the deceased has not previously paid for a cemetery plot. You may wish to have a trusted friend or family member assist you in gathering and reviewing the information.

 Read More
Choosing a Funeral Home

Here are a few "starter" tips, questions and things to know when choosing a funeral home.

 Read More
Choosing Cremation

Here are some starter questions if you choose to visit a crematorium (or what to ask your funeral director if you don't go yourself).

 Read More
Choosing OrganBody Donation

If your loved one requested organ donation or that his or her body be donated to a medical school, here are some things to know.

 Read More
Common Estate and Inheritance Tax Terms

These are simple, starter definitions for estate and inheritance taxes. Check with your financial advisor before doing anything.

 Read More
Dividing Up Family Heirlooms

What happens to possessions after the owner has passed on? Family members might battle over Mom's emerald earrings, Dad's golf clubs or even Grandma's yellow pie plate.

 Read More
Low-Cost Funeral Options

Today's average funeral costs upwards of $7,755. Fortunately, there are ways to lower funeral costs.

 Read More
Making Funeral Arrangements

Making funeral arrangements involves many different tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, since many of these things happen simultaneously.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral 5 Common Questions

Here are answers to common questions about planning a funeral.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral Memorial Funds

Families often want to set up memorial funds so money can be donated in memory of their loved one. If you are considering this, and are wondering where money can be donated, here are a few ideas to get you started.

 Read More
Planning a Funeral Military Honors

Military Funeral Honors are provided whenever possible. Law mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family.

 Read More
Preparing a Eulogy

A eulogy is a tribute to a person's life, usually read at funerals or memorial services.

 Read More
Writing an Obituary

An obituary includes a biographical outline and possibly a picture of the deceased. As early as possible, begin compiling the information for the obituary. Friends and family can help write this.

 Read More