CHICAGO, IL – At an average cost of $7,000, funerals are one of the more expensive purchases made by consumers. During an emotionally-charged time it can be easy to spend more than might be necessary. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) recommends the following advice for navigating the funeral process.
Most funeral providers offer a variety of package plans that include products and services most commonly sold. However, it’s important to remember that no package is obligatory and it’s important to take the time, even though it may be constricted, to find the individual products and services you prefer. The “Funeral Rule,” enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if asked, over the phone.
“Arranging a funeral often becomes an economic and emotional burden on the surviving relatives,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “This makes it imperative that people get all details in writing and obtain more than one estimate before signing on the dotted line.”
The BBB has the following advice for those planning a funeral:
- You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services that you want (with some exceptions);
- If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law;
- The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere;
- A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative urns available.
“Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and read contracts before you sign,” notes Bernas. “If you feel as if you are being pressured into buying something you do not want or need, ask to speak to a different funeral director or go to a different funeral home.”
One way to reduce stress during a time of grief is pre-planning. Learning the funerary preferences of loved ones ahead of time may help families create a budget and a plan they can reference in the future.
The BBB provides Business Reviews on funeral homes and mortuary service providers across northern Illinois for free at www.bbb.org