The woman's plea was urgent and gripping. "My mother is 85 years old and has been diagnosed with cancer," Tamara B. writes. "I'm a low-income single mother and if something happens, I don't have the money to cover the costs of the funeral what do I need to do? Please answer."
At an average cost of $8,000, funerals are expensive. Decisions must be made quickly under great emotional stress. It can be easy to spend more money than might be necessary.
"I need to find a way to cover the funeral," Tamara, of Boise, writes.
Better Business Bureau advises people to take their time, ask a lot of questions and consider several providers before buying a funeral plan or paying for funeral services.
Most mortuaries provide funeral plans and prepay arrangements, which is a good starting point in planning. Before you go, check the provider's background. Prepaying for a funeral has advantages, as well as risks. If you choose to prepay, make a well-informed decision, carefully research your options and know your rights. You can always make plans in advance, without prepaying. Be sure to share your specific wishes with those close to you.
Federal Trade Commission undercover investigators found funeral homes in nine states violated consumer protection laws. Idaho was not among those investigated. Exact violations were not given, but people need to be aware problems do exist. The FTC established the Funeral Rule - as an alternative to an FTC lawsuit - as a guideline for businesses and people. Here's a three-minute video: http://1.usa.gov/130TBWo.
The FTC's Funeral Rule gives people a number of rights, including the right to receive written price lists, explanations of cemetery or legal requirements and the choice of using a container other than a casket for cremation. Some cemeteries have requirements that must be explained fully before you make a purchase.
Remember, every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. The type of funeral you'll have - elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular - can be influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences.
BBB recommends the following:
Check with BBB. Use BBB's free services at bbb.org to find a trustworthy funeral establishment. A company's BBB Business Review will show any past history of complaints and how the company addressed those complaints.
Check operating licenses. Check that any funeral establishment you are considering has been licensed and is registered.
Visit the establishment. Before making any final decisions, visit the funeral home and grave site in person to examine the facilities and meet the funeral director.
Compare costs. Consult at least three different firms to compare costs and services available. By law, any establishment you enter is required to provide a price list, which you can keep, itemizing the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale.
Get a copy of the funeral purchase agreement. Funeral directors are required to provide you with a signed copy of the funeral purchase agreement, which lists all the items you selected and the price.
Robb Hicken: 947-2115