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Please note that if you are looking for pricing for a specific service like cremation, you will need to fill out our Request Form.
Funeral Pricing Musts
First, remember that a funeral provider must give you an itemized statement with the total cost of funeral goods and service at the time you make arrangements.
If the actual costs aren’t known, the funeral director must provide a written “good faith estimate.”
The funeral provider must also disclose any legal, cemetery, or crematory requirements that oblige you to purchase any specific funeral goods or services. The Funeral Rule does not specify the format of the statement.
NOTE: The funeral director may include this disclosure document at the end of the discussion about arrangements. In other words, it could be hidden – intentionally or not – within other funeral-related papers.
Comparing Funeral Prices
When finding a funeral home and comparing prices, consider the total cost of all items together in addition to the costs of single items. Every funeral provider should have price lists for all the items needed for the arrangements it offers. The only way to accurately compare total costs is by comparing funeral prices for all the items, which is what we at Funeral Decisions can help you do, starting with our Consumer Guide to Funerals.
NOTE: Funeral homes may offer funeral packages that are less expensive than purchasing individual items of services. The Funeral Rule permits packages as long as the funeral home also provides a list of itemized services.
Funeral Services And Products
Under the Funeral Rule, consumers have the right to purchase only the funeral goods and services they want (with some exceptions, depending on your state of residence).
Many funeral providers require embalming if viewing or visitation is to be included in the funeral service. Embalming is usually not necessary or legally required if the body is to be buried or cremated shortly after death. Foregoing embalming can save hundreds of dollars.
Funeral Burial Caskets
Usually the priciest funeral item, the casket is sold solely for it’s visual appeal and prices vary from $2,000 to $10,000 and higher.
Lower-end caskets are made of metal, wood, fiberglass and plastic. Higher-end caskets are crafted from mahogany, copper or bronze. Caskets of different materials have varying warrantees for longevity and workmanship.
An Important Note About Burial Caskets
A casket provides a dignified way to move a body before burial or cremation. It is not intended to – nor will it – preserve a body forever. Metal caskets may be described as “gasketed,” “protective,” or “sealer” caskets. This means they have rubber gaskets or other features designed to delay water penetration into the casket and prevent rust. The gaskets, which are an added cost, do not help preserve remains. The Funeral Rule prohibits claims that these devices help preserve remains indefinitely.
Finding the Right Burial Casket
Most consumers purchase one of the first three caskets they see, so it’s to the funeral director’s advantage to show the most expensive ones first. A cost-conscious consumer will ask to see the lower price ones from the list.
The Funeral Rules specifies that when a consumer visits a funeral home to look at caskets, the funeral provider must show a list of caskets the company sells, along with descriptions and prices, before showing the caskets.
Third-party Casket Dealers
Websites and showrooms operated by third-party dealers often sell caskets at lower prices. The Funeral Rules requires funeral providers to agree to use caskets purchased elsewhere, and prohibits charging extra for them.
Renting a Casket for Cremation
For cremation, the common practice is to rent a casket for the visitation and the funeral. In the case of direct cremation without a viewing or service, the funeral home must offer an inexpensive unfinished wood box or alternative non-metal container (typically pressboard, canvas, or cardboard) that is cremated with the body.
Under the Funeral Rule, funeral directors who offer direct cremations:
Burial Vaults or Grave Liners
Also known as burial containers, burial vaults or grave liners are typically used in traditional full-service funerals. The vault or liner is placed in the ground before burial to prevent the ground from caving in as the casket deteriorates.
Made of reinforced concrete, they will satisfy a cemetery’s requirement (if there is such a requirement). Grave liners cover only the top and sides of casket. Burial vaults surround the casket in concrete or other material, and are more substantial and, therefore, expensive. Any of these liners may carry warrantees of their protective strength.
As with caskets, the funeral provider must give a list of prices and descriptions of burial vaults and grave liners before showing them to the consumer. Again, third party prices may be lower.
Important Note About State Laws & Burial Vaults
State laws do not require a burial vault or grave liner. Funeral services providers are prohibited from telling you otherwise. But many cemeteries do require some type of outer burial container to prevent the grave from sinking over time.
A Final Note On Preservative Processes and Products
The Funeral Rule prohibits funeral providers from claiming that any process or product can preserve remains in the grave indefinitely. They may not state that embalming or a particular casket or liner will preserve a body forever.
At FuneralDecisions.com, we understand how emotionally and financially difficult it can be to lose a loved one. Our goal is to provide a powerful tool to help you make an educated purchase when looking for funeral homes and cemeteries in your time of need.