Home & Family

Yes, There Are Options When Planning a Funeral

By – Angela Webster

The pressure of time, budget, and decisions can make planning a funeral a daunting task for a grieving family. To reduce stress on family members, many Americans are choosing to pre-plan their funerals by working with a funeral home or other provider to ensure that the arrangements reflect their final wishes. Pre-planning gives people the freedom to share what they want with their families, to shop for the casket or urn of their choice, purchase a burial plot or secure a spot in their church columbarium.

You have choices.

Many people feel undue pressure from the funeral industry, but they don’t have to.

If you’re thinking about pre-planning your funeral, you may be surprised to learn that you have choices.
While many funeral providers offer “packages” of services that make up a funeral, you’re not limited by these
packages. When you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That
means you don’t have to accept a package with items you don’t want.

Here are a few of your legal rights according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose only the funeral goods and services you want.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket that you bought somewhere else.
  • The funeral provider must provide you with a general price list
  • If a state or local law requires you to buy a particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price
    list, with a reference to the specific law.

Premium-rectangular-walnut-homepageThese rights are important. You have the legal right to price shop and buy a casket or urn from outside the
funeral home. You have choices.

Five things you can do to help your family feel more prepared

  1. Put together a simple list of after-life instructions that you can have your spouse, children, or the executor
    file away. Your instructions should detail your wishes for your remains, a funeral, burial, cremation,
    pallbearers, etc. It will reduce some of the anxiety if your family doesn’t have to guess about what you
    might have wanted.
  2. Consider what type of service you want—funeral vs memorial—and place—church or funeral home.
  3. If you desire burial, consider where and make arrangements with the cemetery for a plot, and marker. If
    cremation, what do you want done with the ashes?
  4. Pre-purchase your casket or urn and provide the details in your after-life instructions
  5. Sit down and talk with your spouse and family to answer any of their questions or concerns

Alternatives to the Status Quo

If you decide to take the first steps and begin pre-planning, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make. There are
many alternatives to the standard options presented at the funeral home. Before you start exploring, think
about what you’re looking for. If you are purchasing a casket, do you prefer metal or wood? A handmade
casket or one produced on an assembly line?

One example of an alternative casket-maker is a small company tucked in the rolling farm land of Iowa.
Trappist Caskets are made by monks at New Melleray Abbey out of hardwood, harvested partly from their
own sustainable forest. Their caskets reflect the Trappist values of work and prayer. Purchasing a Trappist
casket or urn supports the monastery, and makes it possible for the monks to offer child caskets to grieving
families at no charge. Casket makers like this one offer meaningful alternatives as you consider how to plan
for the future.

Don’t be corralled into a funeral purchase that doesn’t sit right with you. Instead, be empowered to take
control and explore alternatives.

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20 Comments on "Yes, There Are Options When Planning a Funeral"

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My wife and I plan to be cremated & have a memorial service. It is thousands cheaper and isn’t so hard on the remaining family as a funeral.

The funeral homes I am familiar with would provide the general public with a whole lot more than you have shared in your article and would explain all of the options available to any person or family with no pressure to buy any product. They provide a copy of the federal trade price list, a casket price list and a outer container price list. It is the law. 99% of funeral homes do all they can to provide the best possible services to all families.

These caskets from New Melleray Abby are outrageously high priced!!! Search the internet! I bought coffins for my wife and myself from a couple in Idaho for $800ea, including shipping!

I’ve heard that you can purchase a coffin liner, instead of the whole box, which might be good if you have a crypt.

My husband and I have come to the decision that we would like to have our funeral pre-planned so that the other or our kids won’t have to do a lot of work when the time comes. I like how you mentioned that one thing we need to consider is what kind of service we want, and where we would like it to be held at. It will be nice to know that things will be done they we like, and there will be time for everyone to grieve. http://www.demaraysjerome.com/services-and-arrangements

My husband’s grandmother just passed away, and I think it would really help him if I could take care of a lot of the funeral planning so he can focus on mourning her death. However, I don’t really know where to start, so I appreciate these tips. It’s interesting how you point out that we have the right to a funeral home that gives us choices as far as the casket and general price lists. We’ll be sure to look for a funeral home that offers these things. http://burials-at-sea-by-captain.com/burials-at-sea-service.shtml

I hadn’t thought much about pre-planning a funeral, but it may be good to do since there are many choices, as you mentioned. It’s important that you don’t feel pressured after a death and make hasty decisions that you may not be happy with. It may be worth researching memorial services in the area to get an idea of what to expect if a death is approaching in your family.

You wrote that due to how stressful funerals can be, many people are starting to pre-plan them. My grandfather is old and his health is failing. We’ll have to look for a good funeral home that could provide a nice military service for when he does pass. Thanks for the great tips. http://www.bgsfuneralhome.com/veterans

I appreciate the tips for planning a funeral. It’s nice to know that you don’t really have to feel undue stress and pressure when planning. When planning my own funeral, I will remember that I have the right to only choose the funeral goods that I want. http://www.cremationsonly.com.au/

My grandma recently passed away, so it is good to know that there are options for planning the funeral. I like how you point out that you can choose “packages” or individual goods and services. I imagine that one of the really important parts of planning a funeral is choosing the right funeral home. I’ll have to look online and choose one that seems compassionate and helpful. http://thomasfuneralchapels.com

My grandpa and grandma told me that they are thinking about pre-planning their funeral, and I was curious about how that helps. It’s nice that you can think about what kind of service you will want. Death is always something hard, and they fact that you can pre-plan a lot of it kind of takes a bit of stress away. http://www.ahlgrimfuneral.com/?page=pg__preplanning

My friend’s father was recently diagnosed with a terminal disease and has been hospitalized. Your tip about considering what type of service you want – funeral vs memorial- and place – church or funeral home was very enlightening. Do most funeral homes offer the different choices? It seems that hiring a funeral home to help may be very beneficial. http://www.partroyfuneralhome.com

I looked up Cremation services because I am in the market, and appreciate AMAC having an article on pre planning funeral services. I just purchased dental/vision insurance through AMAC and trust in the organization. Was hoping they could recommend a reputable Cremation service.

So now AMAC has reached a new low. Putting out advertisements disguised as news stories or advisories to us drooling old folks. This is the second one I have seen. As an alternative to AARP AMAC is a complete failure.