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Funeral homes and cemeteries fall squarely into the category of those unfamiliar services that we would prefer to never use, and hopefully only have to use occasionally. As a result, we tend choose among different options on the basis of the easiest criterion: funeral expenses.
While it seems that all providers are inherently similar, it’s important to remember that each funeral services provider has different plans and prices. It is important to remember that the costs of funeral services, burial or cremation – especially in a competitive market – can occupy a range that is too narrow to make meaningful distinctions possible.
Don’t Just Compare Funeral Home & Cemetery Costs
Look for the best value, not the lowest price
Pricing for funerals and cemeteries is important. Funeral price structures can often be confusing, and consumers may not always be comparing apples to apples.
Related: Watch our video on comparing funeral home and cemetery pricing
Packaged Funeral & Cemetery Services
Most funeral homes offer different packaged prices for a combination of goods and services, and different providers bundle different items together. You need to know exactly what is included so that you can compare different packages.
A La Carte Funeral Arrangements
In addition to packaged services, providers offer individual prices for specific items. You should be able to choose among their offerings and select the specific items that you wish to purchase. Remember, through the Funeral Rule, every funeral home is legally required to disclose its prices, both in packaged and in “a la carte” arrangements.
Make sure you ask questions about specific products, such as:
Note: The Funeral Rule does not cover cemeteries and mausoleums unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services.
Providing Your Own Funeral Products
Additionally, you have the legal right to provide your own products. It is not ideal, especially when making difficult decisions, to be forced into asserting a legal right in order to get what you want.
If you plan to conduct a funeral service, be sure that the funeral home has a chapel large enough to accommodate everyone who is expected to attend, and confirm that it has adequate provision for people who may need handicapped access or other assistance.
Questions to ask a funeral home:
Compare to Find the Right Cemetery
It’s important to also compare cemeteries, whether you are interested in burial or in the care of cremated remains. Some choices are straightforward, like the location of the cemetery itself. That location should suit your immediate needs, but consider its convenience for family and friends who may want to visit in the future.
Location is not the only criterion. You need to consider:
A Word of Caution About Cemetery Upkeep
Keep in mind the time of the year that you are on the grounds. In the spring, everything grows very quickly and keeping up with the grass can be a difficult task, so slightly tall grass is to be expected. However, if there are still weeds and uncut areas late summer, this is a red flag about how the cemetery will treat your burial plot.
More Funeral Expenses: Cemetery Costs
Costs for cemeteries include fees in addition to the cost of the plot or other space. Extra charges include opening and closing the grave, installing a headstone and caring for the plot after burial may all be extra charges.
Ask the Right Cemetery Questions
Each cemetery has its own rules and regulations. Those rules may determine whether you can use the style and size of headstone or marker you prefer.
Questions to ask cemeteries:
Decisions about funeral services and cemeteries are often made in the midst of severe emotional turmoil, but even people who have planned long in advance can find it hard to make these kinds of choices. It helps to have a sense of the practical considerations at issue, but some things are not so easy to explain.
In the end, there is no substitute for the unquantifiable feeling that you are in competent and respectful hands.
Remember, funeral and cemetery price is only part of the value equation!
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.