Elder Law

10 Things Funeral Directors Won't Mention

It's very difficult to lose a loved one. You're in a state of grief, and maybe a state of shock. The last thing you want to think about is planning the funeral.

Funeral directors are used to help grieving families handle all the details of a funeral. They have many responsibilities in a short span of time. From preparing the body to final burial, a funeral director will be involved in the entire process.

Although you may rely on a funeral director to help you, there may be some important information that he won't mention. You should be aware of this information before you start the funeral process. Here are 10 things your funeral director probably won't mention, in no particular order.

1. The Law Doesn't Require My Services

In most states, you aren't legally required to have a funeral director. You can have the funeral on your own, most likely at someone's house. This will allow you to save a lot of money if you're on a tight budget. It'll also allow you to have a more intimate surrounding instead of a funeral building.

2. You Don't Need to Buy the Most Expensive Casket

Many funeral directors will push expensive caskets on you. They may hide the lower priced models in the back or not display them at all. You must be aware of what you can afford. The casket could be the most expensive part of the funeral bill.

3. You Don't Have to Buy the Casket from Me

You aren't limited by the casket selection from the funeral director. Caskets are sold in a variety of places. Even stores like Costco now sell caskets. Your funeral director must accept a casket you bought from somewhere else.

4. Prepaid Plans Don't Cover All Funeral Expenses

Many people like to prepay the funeral expenses to lock in lower rates. However, you may find that not all the expenses are covered. Some common items aren't usually covered by the plan, such as music or flowers. You may find yourself paying more than you thought during the worst possible time.

5. Prepaying Me Isn't Your Best Option

You should always pre-plan a funeral so you don't have to make difficult decisions in your time of grief. However, you don't have to prepay the funeral expenses. Locking yourself into a contract will limit your choices in the future. You may have trouble changing the plan without receiving penalties, or only a portion of your money may be refunded if you decide to move to another state. In addition, you run the risk of a funeral director engaging in fraud and finding your money gone. You're much better off setting up your own bank account or trust to be used to cover funeral expenses.

6. Embalming Isn't Legally Required

Embalming is the process of preserving a human body from decomposition. It's usually not required by law except in certain cases. Skipping this step can save you money. The body can usually be placed in refrigeration instead until the burial.

7. My Prices Are Higher than other Funeral Directors in Town

Don't assume all funeral directors will charge the same amount. Investigate the prices of local directors well before you need one. This will allow you to make a smart decision.

8. You Don't Have to Purchase a Package Deal

Many funeral directors will try to get you to purchase a funeral package deal. They'll tell you that you'll save money. However, many of these packages come with services that you don't need, which increases the cost. It may be cheaper for you to separately buy only the services you want.

9. The Law Doesn't Require a Burial Vault or Grave Liner

Burial vaults or grave liners are used to help prevent the ground from caving in around the casket. They're usually made of reinforced concrete and can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most states don't require you to purchase one. However, many cemeteries require a vault or liner to prevent sinking problems in the future.

10. Expensive Sealed Burial Vaults Can Be Worse than Cheaper Grave Liners

Grave liners are only used to support the weight of the earth. Burial vaults are more expensive since they also completely seal and protect the casket. However, sealing the casket can actually be worse since it doesn't allow the remains to properly dry. In either case, nothing can prevent decay.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • How do I set up a trust to pay my funeral expenses when I die?
  • Can I get out of a prepaid contract I entered into with a funeral director without paying a penalty? What if the funeral home is sold or merges with another provider?
  • I had an expensive funeral for my spouse because the funeral director took advantage of me while I was grieving. Can I get my money back?
Have a elder law question?
Get answers from local attorneys.
It's free and easy.
Ask a Lawyer

Get Professional Help

Find a Elder Law lawyer
Practice Area:
Zip Code:
How It Works
  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys

Talk to an attorney

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you