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Facts

Funerals: A Consumer Guide

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral. All of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress.

  • What kind of funeral should it be?
  • What funeral provider should you use?
  • Should you bury or cremate the body, or donate it to science?
  • What are you legally required to buy?
  • What other arrangements should you plan?
  • And, as callous as it may sound; how much is it all going to cost?

Each year, Americans grapple with these and many other questions as they spend billions of dollars arranging more than 2 million funerals for family members and friends.

Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral, including a casket and vault, costs about $8,000, although “extras” like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards or limousines can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Many funerals run well over $10,000.

Steps to Preparing for a Funeral

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Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need and compare the prices offered by several funeral providers. It also spares your survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions.

“It’s a good idea to review and revise your decision every few years.”

Put your preferences in writing, give copies to family members and your attorney, and keep a copy in a handy place. Don’t designate your preferences in your will, because a will often is not found or read until after the funeral.

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