One area where I’m not happy to have had a lot of financial experience is planning funerals.
I’ve had to pay for or help arrange funerals for my grandfather, grandmother, two brothers, great aunt, brother-in-law, father-in-law and, most recently, my mother.
And while the staffs at Rockford funeral home services were kind and professional, there was one thing that was consistently frustrating. I couldn’t get any price information on the Internet. I had to call. And still, I never got a full sense of the costs until I actually visited the homes.
The survey found that only 1 in 4 funeral homes disclosed prices on its Web site. Sixteen percent didn’t reveal prices either on their Web site or when contacted by e-mail or phone.
The Federal Trade Commission’s “Funeral Rule” requires funeral establishments to provide cost information over the phone and to give a general price list to customers who visit their establishment. It does not require disclosure on their Web sites. But it should.
Given the way we use technology to shop, the law needs to be updated, especially for such an emotional purchase. Consumers ought to be able to find prices for Rockford funeral home services online as easily as they can shop for a new or used car.
California requires funeral homes to disclose on their Web sites the same prices they give to folks in person or when they call.
- Slow down. Take your finger off the panic button. Yes, things have to be done in a reasonable time, but if your wife, who has been in hospice, dies at home, that doesn’t mean you have to rush to phone the funeral home at 3 a.m.
If you’re too grief-stricken to call around to get quotes, have a friend do it for you. In fact, when you get your will done — and you should — include information about the type of Rockford funeral home services you prefer and how much you can afford to spend. Me, I want to be cremated. I don’t want my family to spend a lot of money to bury me.
- Set a budget. Arrange a funeral that fits your emotional needs but also fits your budget. And if your budget is $800, there is no shame in that.
You can get some general price information from surveys conducted by local affiliates of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
- Spend wisely. You can have a $20,000 funeral where the body is on display for three days or an $800 simple cremation and memorial service. Either way the amount of love and genuineness of your grief is the same. It’s okay to shop for a funeral as you would for any other service or product. And don’t equate how much you spend with the love you had for your loved one.