Funeral homes are a topic that most people don’t want to discuss. However, at some point we will all have to use the services of a funeral home.

With the recent passing of a loved one in my family, I had my first experience with funeral homes. I was fortunate to have a good experience, although expensive, so I want to let consumers know what types of expenses are typical so they are prepared if and when they ever need these types of services. I will also list the real expenses I had just to give consumers a point of reference on what these services might cost them.

For the record, I do not own a funeral home nor am I in any way tied to the funeral home business. I just feel like it is my duty to make this information available, so that other people can benefit from what I just experienced.

In an ideal world, pre-arrangements will be made. Nowadays, most funeral homes have very convenient way to make pre-arrangements. At anytime, you can go online and fill out a form that can either be held in the records of the funeral home or you can download it on your computer and print it for you own directives file. I support the download and print option because you can take it with you if you have a hard copy and besides, let’s face it anytime you can avoid sending personal information over the Internet is a good in my book. In this document you will state the type of service you want, the type of casket you may want as well as give any important information about family members, military service or any special considerations you may want. Most importantly, you can pre-pay, which takes the burden off of your family.

These are the steps that my family had to go through:

1. When your loved one passes away, there must be a legal pronouncement of death. In the case of my family, we had home hospice. The caregiver was not able to make the pronouncement so an official from the hospice came to our home and made the official pronouncement of death.

2. We had the official from the hospice speak with the funeral home to confirm the pronouncement and they dispatched a team to do the transport. We were told that we could not communicate this ourselves to the funeral home. Their protocol demands that this comes from the hospice official. They dispatched two gentlemen to come to the house. (They are available 24/7)

3. We were fortunate to have two very nice gentlemen come to our home. At, this time, the paperwork will begin. We spent about 30 minutes filling out paperwork and answering questions such as Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, etc…

4. They remove the body. This is pretty rough, so brace yourself. He was placed on a stretcher with the utmost respect and they covered him with a flag since he had served his country and he was taken away.

5. We had to meet at the funeral home to make arrangements. There are two types: Service arrangements (religious) and Burial arrangements (purchasing a plot and coffin).

6. As for the actual service, the funeral home can help provide an officiant, if you do not have someone do perform the ceremony of your choice. This would typically be a religious person, and most funeral homes will give you a choice.

7. Next we made the burial arrangements which consisted of picking out a casket and a burial plot. Most retailers outside of the actual funeral home have better prices. We looked at our local big box retailer and they even carry them however, in our town they were unsuitable for those seeking a very plain or kosher coffin. Then, we were driven to several locations to pick an actual spot for the burial. These vary greatly in price depending on a multitude of conditions such as proximity to trees, high on a hill or somewhere flat. In our state, double plots (deep enough to accommodate 2 coffins encased in concrete) are common. If this is something that interests you, you need to make this decision now. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to investigate what needs to be done for a winter burial

8. You will need to make decisions about an obituary. If you want this published in a major newspaper, hang on to your hat. For a major city newspaper our research found the charge to be $1200 for 3 days.

9. You will want to consider making a program although, this may seem like a step that you don’t want to take, it is often the last keepsake that others will have of your loved-one so plan accordingly. We also printed directions from the cemetery to our home for the convenience of our guest.

10. All in, this event cost us about $15,000. Here is our breakdown: casket $5,000, graveside services $3,300, officiant: $500, obituary $1,200, burial plot $4,000, actual burial $800, death certificates $12/each, burial permit $12.

11. Some of these costs can be reduced. Pre-arrangements can create savings and current day costs can be locked in. I think it is safe to assume these costs are unlikely to go down in the future, so, a funeral that is $15,000 could double in the future. You may want to consider funeral insurance to keep from breaking the bank.

I wanted to share this experience, so that consumer will know all the steps they will need to follow in the case of the death of a loved one and what costs they can expect when using the services of a funeral home.

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