No matter how much of a planner you may be, there’s a good chance that you haven’t spent a lot of time on making advance funeral arrangements. For most people, the mere idea of making final arrangements sends a chill down the spine. Unfortunately, this lack of planning can leave grieving loved ones vulnerable to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous funeral homes.
To help protect you from funeral home fraud, we are providing some basic information meant to help you understand funeral home costs. The more you know, the more control and confidence you will have.
When planning for memorial services and funerals, charges are broken down into those that cover the required services and overhead costs, additional (optional) services, and costs that are provided to the funeral home in order to pay for services from third parties. Here is what you need to know about each:
- Basic services – This is generally a flat rate that covers administrative costs for obtaining the death certificate and other paperwork, the storing of the remains, and coordinating arrangements with the clergy, the cemetery or crematorium.
- Additional (optional) services – These include discretionary items, including providing time and space for a memorial service or viewing, embalming or cosmetic work on the body, cremation or burial if they are being provided by the funeral home, transportation of the body or mourners to a funeral, and the purchase price of a casket or urn.
- Costs for outside services – These include costs for burial or cremation if they are being provided by another party, compensation to clergy, car rentals, the cost of filing an obituary, and flowers. In many cases, these fees are not paid to the funeral home but are instead paid directly to the third parties. Some funeral homes that do handle these arrangements charge an additional fee for these services: those that do so are required to advise you of their upcharge.
Before agreeing to any fees, it is important that you understand the legal requirements that surround death and burial. A lack of knowledge can leave you vulnerable to fraudulent practices, including being misinformed about legal requirements. Examples of funeral home fraud include being told that embalming is legally required or that it is required to purchase a casket directly from the funeral home.
If you believe that a funeral home has taken advantage of you, you may be entitled to pursue legal action against them. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and how we can help.