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An Article on Funeral Costs

The high cost of saying goodbye

November 9, 2012

Funeral costs: Laying a loved one to rest typically costs $10,000 or more —
sometimes much more. That’s due in part to tactics some in the funeral
industry use to manipulate you into overspending.

“A significant expense, a vulnerable time, a real problem comparison
shopping, which is the key to any good purchase — it’s the perfect storm,”
says New York City consumer affairs commissioner Jonathan Mintz.

The High Cost of Saying Goodbye

Do Funeral Prices SCARE You?

When you hear the wind howling and the skeletons rattling, you know Halloween is lurking just around the corner. And while folks absolutely love the ghastly, ghostly elements of this popular American holiday, nothing is more frightening than the price of today’s funerals.

“Going into a funeral home at the time of need can set you up for extreme sticker shock,” says Josh Slocum, executive director of Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral. “If you want to be certain to get exactly what you want at a price you can afford, you need to be talking about death now. Have the conversation. If you treat funerals like they’re morbid or taboo and put off planning while you can, you or, more likely, someone you love, may pay dearly.”

Slocum is co-author of Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death, the most comprehensive book available today on funeral and burial purchases. He advises people, as with any other major purchase, to shop around. “And discuss funeral planning thoroughly with family and friends,” he says. “Make your wishes known.”

  • Funerals don’t have to break the bank. Federal law gives you the right to price quotes by phone and printed price lists when you visit the funeral home. Comparing several can save you thousands.
  • Considering cremation? A simple cremation (without add-ons such as ceremonies) should cost $1,000 or less. If you’re being quoted a price much higher, you’re being overcharged.
  • You can’t buy them love. No amount of money, large or small, changes how we feel about the dead. Think outside the costly casket and you’ll find affordable and meaningful ways to say goodbye.

So this Halloween season, while witches soar and werewolves roar, don’t let the high cost of funerals shock you into an early grave!

Josh Slocum: Executive Director/Funeral Consumers Alliance: www.funerals.org
Mailing Address: 33 Patchen Road, South Burlington, VT 05403
Phone: 802-865-8300 Email: fca@funerals.org

Josh Slocum is available for interviews and welcomes any chance to help consumers learn how to shop before they drop. Slocum has appeared on 60 Minutes, NPR, and CNNThe New York Times and magazines such as Forbes and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance have sought his advice. Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting the rights of funeral consumers. For more information on this or other funeral issues, please visit funerals.org.

Pennsylvania Rabbi files suit again Funeral Board

The Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors Needs a Shorter leash

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:56

~Josh Slocum, Executive Director, Funeral Consumers’ Alliance

Pennsylvania’s state funeral regulatory board is out of control and needs to be reined in. Fresh from a defeat in federal court in which a judge tossed out 11 provisions of law for being anti-competitive, the board now faces a suit from a rabbi it has been harassing with threats of legal prosecution for performing traditional, undertaker-free Jewish funerals. Daniel E. Wasserman is suing the board on constitutional grounds; the regulatory board thinks it has the authority to bar Wasserman and his congregation from performing traditional Jewish funerals themselves. No, says the state—that would be practicing funeral service without a license. Never mind that Wasserman’s chevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) charges no fees to grieving families for this traditional religious service.

This use of the Commonwealth’s police powers under the pretext of “protecting health and safety” to restrain organized clergy for the benefit of professional funeral director licensees who seek only to profit is as shocking as it is unconstitutional. Even more shocking is the selective enforcement of [Pennsylvania commercial funeral law] against an Orthodox Jewish clergyman while the State Board knowingly allows the same or similar practices by persons of other faiths in instances where no profit can be expected by its licensees.—Wasserman v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the US District Court, Middle District, Pennsylvania.

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