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Calculating The Cost Of A Funeral


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As you consider the cost of a funeral, keep in mind that a funeral provider is required by law to provide an itemized price list of the goods and services that you choose.

There are three broad categories of funeral costs:

Basic services fee for the funeral director and staff.

  • The basic services fee includes services that are common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement. For example: funeral planning, obtaining necessary permits and copies of the death certificate, preparing the notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties.
  • Always ask which of the "basic services" are really optional. For example, if the funeral home writes and sends an obituary to the papers, is that in the basic service package, or will you save money if your niece, the writer, does it?

Optional services and merchandise.

  • These are the costs associated with optional services such as transporting the remains, embalming and other preparation; use of the funeral home for a viewing, ceremony or memorial service, use of equipment and staff for a graveside service; use of a hearse or limousine; a casket, outer burial container, and cremation or interment.

Cash Advances.

  • Cash advances are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists. You may be charged at cost for these items, or the funeral home may add a service fee. If the funeral home does add a service fee, it must be disclosed to you in writing, though there is no specific requirement for indicating the amount of the markup. Keep in mind that these advances are a service to you: if you have someone who is willing to do these things, you can avoid the funeral home's add-on cost for these services.

 We provide a worksheet to help you calculate costs.

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Funerals 101

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