This is a question that gets asked a lot in regard to funeral planning. Here is what I have found.
Economic times dictate the flexibility of a funeral home regarding payment.
- Payment upfront is demanded during tough economic times.
- In good times you can negotiate a payment plan – costs to 3rd parties via the funeral home to be paid in advance with a payment plan for the remainder.
Traditionally a funeral home would have a two-part system of payment for a funeral.
A figure of payment upfront, as in a cash payment.
This would cover the payments the funeral director would have to pay to a third person, such as for the death certificate, fees for a burial site or cremation, funeral flowers, obituary notices, and other costs.
The funeral director would then accept a payment plan for the professional services rendered which would be completed within a certain time.
Tough times on the economic front usually mean a tightening up of credit, where funeral homes prefer payment in advance. But it always pays to ask.
While the funeral home may be prepared to wait for their money or agree for you to pay off the sum in smaller lots, the immediate costs that the funeral home has to pay for other services mean that they do require you to cover those costs quickly.
Businesses often have a date where payment must be paid, so it is only fair that the funeral home requires you to pay upfront so that they can pay their bills when they come due.
Getting Around Expensive Funeral Costs.
As true to all businesses, the economic times have an impact on the funeral industry.
When the economy gets tight, businesses prefer cash upfront. When times are lucrative, many businesses have more flexibility to accept payment terms.
Consider these tactics to overcome the burden of costs;
- Try to keep funeral costs low. A dignified, respectful funeral can be simple and yet elegant.
- Consider cremation as an option – it is a lot cheaper than burial as it foregoes the casket, the purchase of a burial land plot, and embalming, which are three very expensive items.
- In many areas of the States, you can arrange a basic direct cremation for around $1000. A direct funeral means the body is cremated without attendance. It is cremation only, no service or flowers, etc.
- The family then are presented with the ashes, and they can hold a service with the funeral home, or hold it themselves and save costs.
- Shop around to get the best price. Funeral homes are a business and are very competitive to get clients.
- Negotiate the price. Get a family member to help you if you are hesitant about negotiating.
- Consider spreading the cost amongst the family members e.g. for a deceased parent, all the adult children can chip in to help meet the cost.
- A basic burial can be planned and can be as low as $3000. As the name says, it is basic yet beautiful.
Negotiating Funeral Costs.
Other tips for negotiating the price include the following.
- Ask for a discount for cash – it will never be offered to you, you must ask for a discount, or you will never get one.
- Don’t disclose your actual budget available – keep it to yourself.
- Avoid being coerced into purchasing add on services or products. Extremes of this include a choir at the church, large floral displays, and high end catering for the after function gathering.
- Avoid the upsell from the funeral home – they are a business the same as any other, and they may try to sell you an upgraded model of a casket, flowers, or services – all of which are unnecessary costs if you have a tight budget.
- Consider pre-funeral plans, although they are not necessarily the cheapest option. But families can save in advance which may help the budget.
- Don’t feel pressured to overextend your budget.
- Check whether the funeral home will accept payment via a life insurance assignment. Check the policies that your loved one may have had in place.
- If you can provide evidence that the sale of the estate can cover the funeral costs, the funeral home may negotiate with you.
Other options for finance for a funeral
Credit financing or a funeral loan.
- Several companies offer funeral finance although make sure you check the terms of the agreement and are aware of the high-interest rate that they charge.
- See whether other family members will agree to spread the funeral costs between themselves, especially for a deceased parent with no funeral cover.
- Organize a fundraising event, either a community fundraiser or even an internet fundraiser such as Go Fund Me.
- Charitable help – some charities can make a charitable donation towards funeral costs. But ensure this does not reflect an increase in costs for the funeral services.
- Embassy or Consulate help. You may be able to ask these institutions for help if your loved one has died overseas. They may not be able to help with funeral costs, but they can help you with a great deal of practical assistance.
- Also, check out the help available from government assistance. There is a social security lump-sum death payment of $255, but only if you qualify for this. Many counties across the United States also offer some burial assistance programs. To find out if there is one near you, you will need to contact the Human Services office.
- A combination of payment types is often acceptable to a funeral home, such as a split between multiple credit cards, or a combination including cash, insurance, and credit cards.
- Funeral Trust Plans where the money has been set aside will help with the payment when faced with a funeral. A monthly payment needs to be deposited regularly each month, the amounts are based on the number of years you will be contributing to the plan.
Alternative Options for Some Funeral Home Services.
When a funeral is unexpected, it is easy to just let the funeral home go ahead and do everything.
And why not save yourself the stress by delegating the planning to an experienced professional?
But if you want to cut costs, consider these ideas.
- Garden flowers are just as lovely as florist flowers. If a friend offers you the flowers from their garden and you have an auntie that loves flower arranging, accept both offers with thanks. It will save you serious dollars.
- If you are going to offer refreshments for mourners after the funeral, consider wholesale goods, a limited range of food, and take up any offers to make cakes or man the tables from well-meaning friends.
- Think about denoting the body to medical research – this will benefit both the larger society and help you avoid the cost of a cremation or burial. You can still hold a memorial service afterward for family and friends.
- Remember that the least expensive funeral or memorial service tends to be simple, private (just family and a few close friends) and are held at the graveside or family members home.
- Know the law – the Federal Trade Commission has laws that govern funeral homes. Funeral directors are required to give an itemized quote in person. You are also allowed to bring a casket without being charged a handling fee.
- Decline embalming – it is done to slow the deterioration of the recently deceased and is a very expensive service.
- Go for a simple but durable headstone, rather than marble and decorative statues.
All the above steps are to help you get a payment plan from the funeral home. Most funeral homes are sympathetic and will do everything that they can to help the grieving family.
They will work with you to cut the costs when they understand that you simply cannot afford to pay a large sum of money.
The more that you or the family can do themselves is a great way to save on costs.
The more you demand, the larger the bill.
It is important to remember that a funeral is a time of mourning. It is not meant to be a show of wealth, rather it is designed to be a final goodbye and appreciation of the deceased’s life.
Only pay what you can afford, and work to a budget. If you are honest and open, you will find most funeral homes will work with you to achieve a loving tribute to a beloved person who is no longer with you.