I need help planning a funeral. Where do I begin?
Knowledge is power when planning a funeral, especially if you want to spend your money wisely and make sure you’re getting exactly what your mother/grandfather/husband wanted for their funeral, even when your loved one’s last wish was ‘no funeral’. To understand more about the (sometimes) unscrupulous ways the funeral industry operates, watch this episode of Adam Ruins Everything.
So, how do you even go about making a death plan? No worries. We’ve got you covered in this video that gives practical steps on how to get started and inform your chosen family.
If you’re more of a checklist type, (and even if you aren’t), our favorite and most comprehensive source is Get Your Shit Together. Created by Founding Order Member, Chanel Reynolds after finding herself completely unprepared following the accidental death of her husband. We get it, facing your mortality through piles of bureaucracy is about the least inspiring task on your to-do list, but paradoxically, these are the exact tasks that once you tackle them head on, will put you on a one way train to chill town. Listen to this episode of our podcast as Chanel helps us get our death plans in order.
Finally, what if your family is a little, shall we say, tense? Estranged? Full on battle mode? Here’s some advice on what to do when families disagree over funeral arrangements, and how to avoid conflict when there’s no plan.
Ok, but what about funeral planning outside of the United States?
Good question, here are some planning resources for:
Many people will wish to have their bodies returned for burial or final disposition in their home country, this process is called repatriation. In these cases it is best to work with a funeral home to answer questions regarding legislation, customs declarations, consulate forms and the logistical requirements in each country. To give you an idea of the process behind land transportation of remains, such as the U.S. to Mexico, visit this webpage.
Can I get help paying for a funeral? How can I save money?
The average cost of a funeral in the U.S. is $8,500, and prices are only increasing. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers recorded a 227.1% increase for funerals from 1986 to 2017—that’s almost double the price increase for all other consumer items. It should come as no surprise then, that many families find themselves in funeral poverty trying to meet these costs.
Some states in the U.S. do offer social assistance. You can find a list of what is available in your area here. For families who experienced a death resulting from Covid-19, the U.S. has passed a bill directing FEMA to provide funeral expense reimbursements of up to $7,000. Here are details on who qualifies, and how to apply.
You can also call 211, which is manned by helpful folks that can connect you to resources and assistance in your area. You should also know that this useful service can also help you pay bills, find food, and provide other essential services in your community.
There are also many faith based organizations, particularly for people of Muslim and Jewish faiths, that provide funerals for those in need. Just use Google to find what’s available in your area. Many churches will also provide help for their active members.
Family members may be eligible to receive a one time payment of $225 from Social Security.
Now that you know where to look for help, what can you do to save money?
As we mentioned earlier the median cost of a traditional funeral in the U.S. is $8,500, so you may be wondering, “Where is all that money going?!” Here’s a breakdown for you.
You are your own best advocate when it comes to not overpaying after a death. One way you may be able to save thousands (yes, thousands of dollars) is by shopping around and comparing prices. Typically, when making large purchases we do our research and compare prices. Where possible, it’s a good idea to start by looking up five funeral homes in the area, and asking them for a price list. We’ve also created a list of questions you can use to ask funeral homes regarding their services and costs.
Many people aren’t aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule, which is intended to protect you, the consumer. Although we wish all funeral homes clearly listed their prices on their websites, this isn’t usually the case – according to a 2022 study from the Consumer Federation of America, only 18% of funeral homes list their prices. However, the Funeral Rule ensures your right to getting a price list when you ask about funeral arrangements. It also protects your right to select only the goods or services you want.
There are many ways to save money AND still have a beautiful, meaningful funeral. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Let us show you how, in this video. But wait, we’re not done yet—here are three more tips that can help you save on funeral costs.
In the end, knowing what your death rights are, planning early, and shopping around can make a big difference!