Funeral Planning FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about funerals

Why do we have funerals?

Funerals are part of our culture's need to make a ceremony out of important times of transition. We seem to have an innate need to mark these points with ceremonies. During a funeral we reflect back on the time that we spent with the departed and we also begin to condition ourselves to the idea that they will no longer be with us. Funerals can be personalized by the individual who has died (by pre-planning) or they can be personalized by the family.

Is a funeral director really necessary?

The short answer is, not absolutely. There are a number of ways to carry out a funeral with out a professional funeral director. This is a way to retain control over the ceremony and to save money, too. However, the majority of people like to pass on all the duties of planning a funeral. In most cases, the family is grieving and does not need the extra headache of taking care of all the complex ceremonial aspects of this time. The funeral director takes care of legal aspects and organizes all the traditional issues involved with funerals, from embalming to casketing. This site does outline some complaints against the funeral industry, but it may be the case that a funeral director should get paid well for spending his or her life thinking about the one topic most of us like to avoid.

What's the best way to save money on a funeral?

Plan ahead of time then take out a reasonable insurance policy that will cover the funeral costs. For most people reading this site, this will not be helpful as you are already in an "emergency" state, planning a funeral for someone who has unexpectedly died. The best scenario in this case is to call around to three funeral homes in your area and get a general price list (GPL). As with any other major purchase, you may realize that there are wide variations in prices and value. You will find that conglomerate owned funeral homes are likely more expensive. Alternately, you can look at the option of cremation or green burial, if these would meet the wishes of the deceased.

Finally, here is some economical advice concerning various aspects of funeral planning:

  1. Limit the number of days a funeral home is used for visitation or use a private home for this purpose.

  2. Supply formal clothing without the use of funeral home rentals or purchases.

  3. Supply your own pallbearers.

  4. Eliminate embalming if it is not necessary.

  5. Rent a casket from the funeral home or elsewhere.

  6. Reduce the number of flowers and funeral sprays, etc.

Do I really need to have estate planning?

Absolutely. To avoid estate planning is irresponsible. If you do not, the state is likely to take over and they will not likely divide your state the way you would choose. Planning your estate with a legal will is the best thing for both you and the ones you love. Most people avoid this, only because they do not want to think of their own death, but one thing is for sure, you are not going to live forever.

Does it make any sense to shop for funeral goods online?

It makes very good sense in a number of ways. You can compare prices much easier. You can get a quick overview of prices for caskets, urns and more. In some cases, you can get the best deal online. For example, online boards and forums list pre-owned burial plots at very reasonable prices.

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