National Public Radio (NPR) News just ran a two-part investigative series on All Things Considered and Morning Edition about how hard it can be to get a firm handle on funeral costs.
As an advocate for pre-need funeral planning, my advice is to listen to these stories and educate yourself about local funeral home costs BEFORE you need to use their services for the death of a family member.
It’s not that funeral homes don’t want you to know what they charge for their services.
But by not posting their price lists on their websites, they make it harder for consumers to compare. By making you physically visit the funeral home to get a price list, they make it harder to be an informed consumer. When you have to call for a mailed or faxed price list, funeral homes do not make it easy for you to understand all the moving parts to funeral, cremation, and memorial service pricing.
In Part One of NPR’s reporting, You Could Pay Thousands Less For A Funeral Just By Crossing the Street, the story highlights how a direct cremation, provided by the same funeral company, can vary by thousands of dollars.
From the report, “The cremations are all the same, but some will cost much more than others, depending on where the consumer made the arrangements, and which of the company’s brand names appears on the invoice.” This is true here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as it is in Jacksonville, Florida, where this story is set.
In Part Two, Despite Decades-Old Law, Funeral Prices Are Still Unclear, a consumer advocate thought it would be easy to get a straight answer about funeral products and services and what they cost. He was wrong.
From the report, “A federal regulation called the Funeral Rule is supposed to protect consumers who have lost loved ones. Among other things, it requires funeral businesses to provide potential customers with clear price information. But an NPR investigation found that the rule goes only so far in protecting consumers, and that its promise of transparency often goes unfulfilled.”
This story includes quotes by Slocum, Gilligan, and Will Chang, who heads a Silicon Valley startup that has collected thousands of funeral home price lists and posted them on his site, Parting.com. You can read more about Parting.com on this Family Plot Blog post.
Remember, just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals and end-of-life issues won’t make you dead. Start a conversation, and research your options well before the need arises, today.