How to Shop for a Funeral
The law doesn't require refrigeration to begin for 24 hrs so if a hospital, or police, are asking you to call a funeral home immediately, don't let that bother you. Just proceed to the second step knowing the worst has already occurred. Our Flow Chart for what to do when death occurs.
You can save thousands of dollars by doing this: Call a few funeral homes to obtain their price list, called a "General Price List" (GPL). Or use FCA of UT's Price Comparison Survey to find mortuaries in your price range. Printing out the GPL makes it easier to read and compare.
For hunting outside Utah try "Funeral Consumers Alliance of [name the state] or go to Funeralocity.com to get a general idea of which mortuaries are charging more and which charge less.
Or type into a Search Engine something like: "Discount Funeral Service Provider Near _______" to find your candidates.
Now the Funeral Home will want to sit down with you for an "arrangement conference". This is their chance to build a relationship, make you feel like you are getting a good deal and plan the event.
After you have selected all the goods and services you plan to buy: the funeral home must present you with an "Itemized Statement of Goods & Services Selected" [see a sample]. Once you've examined that statement you can still tell them to remove anything you don't really want.
You will need to pay the total BEFORE a funeral or memorial service can be held.
Keep in Mind BEFORE You Shop
1. You Can Hold Services AFTER Final Disposition, on your own timing, WITHOUT a mortuary:
"Immediate Burial" package: the mortuary buries on their own timing without embalming or viewing.
"Direct Cremation" package: the body is cremated on their own timing without embalming or viewing AND you save on cemetery costs.
2. A Simple Box Can be Lovely: Retailers offer caskets from $100 (for cardboard) to $1500 to get a casket like every other you've ever seen. Many mortuaries use condescending names, yucky colors, dull finishes (called "vulgarizing") when displaying simple and affordable caskets and urns. Another example they'll stamp "Temporary Container" on the box which contains your loved one's cremated remains. Instead, why not choose something special from your home or make one. Then gather loved ones to transfer those remains into it for a meaningful experience together.
3. Alternative Venues: Instead of holding remembrance services at a mortuary, consider locations like a church, home, park, or community center. If you have people in your group that know how to conduct a meeting, move decor and carry a casket you don't need a professional to conduct services.
4. Bring Authentic Decor: Flowers can be from a store or from a garden, artificial or fresh. You might request that attendees bring potted plants instead of cut flowers. Or decorate the venue with portraits and handicrafts or art made by the deceased. A favorite quilt over the casket can be as touching as a floral spray.
5. Print Your Own Programs: Instead of having a funeral home print programs, design and print them yourself or seek assistance from a friend or family member. Many want to do something meaningful to express their love. This is one of many ways to let them.
6. Purchase Items Separately: Most mortuaries bundle their goods & services to charge a package price. But you can purchase items and services separately. It's called Itemizing, which often ends up costing less than a package of overpriced things you don't want.
9. Make Love-based Decisions Instead of Fear-based: Take the time to discuss your options with those who are supportive of you AND who know your rights! When people say, "You can't.....", search this site or contact FCA of UT and we'll advise any time of the day or evening: Joyce 801-368 5884.
The Federal Trade Commission has advice about funeral shoppers rights that may help encourage you about your rights: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/shopping-funeral-services
10. Burial Plots: Many consumer complaints we get are about cemeteries! Many cemeteries raise prices on plot 'owners' without telling them, make you sign away basic rights, and are extremely restrictive, yet don't publish their policies and procedures. So before buying a bunch of plots ask for a copy of their policies and procedures which include:
-what is allowed if you later decide to resell your plot(s)
-how the future fees climb (for interment/opening closing, vaults and monuments) if you don't prepay, or if family become non-residents
-restrictions as to shroud burial, grave liners etc
-requirements surrounding memorial stones (materials, size, where purchased, setting fees, inspection fees). Some people wait years for a monument to be set, until the funeral home stops picking up the phone and all hope is lost.