When you or a loved one are overcome with grief from loss, it can be very easy to let your guard down, making you an easy target for funeral scams. While most of the funeral industry is filled with kind, compassionate business owners dedicated to helping family through troubled times, there are shady businesses that are simply out to make a buck, no matter who they hurt in the process. When you are mourning loss, you are at your most vulnerable, so knowing about potential funeral scams ahead of time will help you recognize them in the future, when you are in the middle of planning a funeral for a loved one.
Avoid Sealed Caskets
This is known as one of the biggest scams in the funeral industry. Funeral directors will sell you a “sealed” casket that has a gasket around the opening of the gasket. This piece of rubber costs around $15-$25 and dodgy directors will sometimes charge a premium upwards of $700 for this service, when, in fact, it rarely preserves the body as well as directors claim. The bottom line is you don’t need a sealed casket.
Write Your Own Obituary
Many funeral homes work with local papers to make it so that the funeral home is the only entity that can submit the obituary in the paper, thus allowing them to charge a premium for the service. This is not a service you should have to pay for and if the local paper refuses to run an obituary from you personally, simply don’t list it in the paper. This is the 21st century and the internet is actually a better place to list the death of a loved one rather than the local paper. Consider a memorial blog (you can set one up for free at sites like WordPress.com) as an alternative.
Don’t Buy the First Caskets or Urns You’re Shown
Federal funeral regulations require that funeral directors show their clients all of the caskets that they have available, from affordable to lavish. However, most people select one of the first three caskets that they see when presented with options and directors know this fact. To increase their earnings, some funeral homes will put their more expensive or mid-priced caskets in the showroom and store their less expensive ones in the basement or paint them an unattractive color. It’s OK to shop around and funeral regulations prevent funeral homes from charging any kind of premium for using a casket that is purchased outside of the funeral home’s inventory. The same goes for funeral urns as well. There are many affordable alternatives to the funeral home’s costly urns online.
Scrutinize Mortuary Service Fees
Sketchy funeral homes will charge higher mortuary service fees for the time that the funeral director spends planning your loved one’s funeral, making plans for the cemetery plot or speaking with the local crematory. Regulators has gone on record stating that these tasks should take no longer than four or five hours per funeral, meaning that any place charging more than a thousand dollars in mortuary service fees that does not specifically itemize the fees is likely trying to capitalize on your grief. You should not have to pay more than $1000 for mortuary service fees.