Burnsville, Minnesota – March 23, 2016 – At an average cost between $7,000 and $10,000, funerals are one of the more expensive arrangements people make. During such an emotionally charged time, loved ones or caretakers of the deceased can get lost in the details and expenses involved with planning a funeral. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers some direction for navigating the funeral process.
“Discussions of funeral arrangements and designating one’s personal wishes are never easy to have, but these are the conversations that can help transform a time of mourning into a time of celebration,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.
Many funeral homes offer a variety of package plans that include products and services that are chosen most often by the bereaved. But no packages are obligatory and it’s important to take the time, even though time to make these decisions may be short, to find the individual products and services that best serve your needs and the needs of loved ones and the deceased.
One way to remove some of the questions that arise when one passes is to have a plan outlining some choices in advance. This makes things easier for those left behind and also takes the wishes of the deceased into account. The National Funeral Directors Association offers a “Bill of Rights for Funeral Preplanning” (nfda.org/planning-a-funeral/preplanning.html) that its members follow. Though you don’t have to prepay for a funeral in order to preplan one, there may be financial benefits to doing so.
As you begin to explore your options, it’s important to carefully weigh the benefits and costs tied to each choice: traditional burial or cremation. Traditional funerals – where there’s a burial and service – are the most popular, but can cost significantly more than cremation.
According to the Cremation Association of North America, the U.S. cremation rate has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. The reason for the increase in the number of people choosing cremation over traditional burial could come down to cost or because it gives families more flexibility when planning a memorial service, or simply due to the wishes of the deceased.
Whether you’re looking at a traditional burial or cremation, The Funeral Rule, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, offers consumers many protections:
· You can choose the funeral goods and services that you want (with some exceptions). You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
· You may receive price information on the telephone if you ask for it. You don’t have to give them your name, address, or telephone number first. Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.
· You’re entitled to a written statement from the funeral home describing any legal cemetery or crematory requirementthat requires you to buy particular funeral goods or services.
· The right to see a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets. Sometimes, detailed casket price information is included on the funeral home’s General Price List. More often, though, it’s provided on a separate casket price list. Get the price information before you see the caskets, so that you can ask about lower-priced products that may not be on display.
· The funeral provider must not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket or urn that you bought elsewhere.
· A funeral provider who offers cremation must make alternative containers available.BBB has free Business Reviews on more than 450 funeral service providers throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, available at bbb.org/search.