Funerals are a time for family members and friends to remember, respect, celebrate, and honor the life of a loved one they have lost. They can also be one of the biggest expenses that families face.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of an adult funeral in 2009 was $6,560. However, this price doesn’t take into consideration the additional expenses that come with a traditional funeral service, such as burial costs and the purchase of a headstone. When those are factored in, the typical cost for a funeral in the United States is $8,000 – $10,000.
If a loved one has suffered a wrongful death , you may be legally entitled to receive compensation for funeral expenses. The skilled attorneys at Gordon & Doner can evaluate your case and confidentially advise you as to whether your claim has merit and how to proceed.
To learn more, please fill out the form to the right for your Free Case Evaluation.
Types of Funerals
The type of funeral that an individual or family chooses will depend upon their cultural traditions, religious beliefs, personal preferences, and budget. They can be elaborate or modest, public or private, religious or secular. Although there are many different possibilities for an individual funeral, there are only three types overall: “traditional” full-service funeral, direct burial, and direct cremation.
“Traditional” Full-service Funeral
This is the most common and traditional type of funeral. It generally includes a viewing and formal funeral service, a hearse to transport the body, and burial, entombment, or cremation of the deceased’s remains. It is usually the most expensive type of funeral because the price of a casket and cemetery plot must be factored into the overall cost.
In a direct burial, the body is buried shortly after death, usually in a modest container. Viewing and visitation are not allowed, and embalming is not necessary. If the family chooses to, a memorial service can be at graveside for an additional fee.
In a direct cremation, the body is cremated shortly after death and not embalmed. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container and can either be buried, scattered, kept in the home, or placed in a crypt. A crematory fee is usually charged if the funeral home does not own a crematory.
It is wise to make decisions about the arrangement of your funeral in advance, write them down, and give copies to your family members and attorney. Doing so will spare your loved ones from the pressure and stress of having to negotiate prices and make purchasing decisions in a time of grief.
Paying for a Funeral
If one believes that the amount of money spent on a funeral is a reflection of how much they cared for the deceased, they will tend to overspend. You can relieve family members of this burden by taking financing decisions into your own hands.
Here are the main ways funeral expenses can be handled:
Starting a prepaid funeral trust account is a proactive way to help ensure that your funeral expenses are covered without taking money out of your estate. The funds from this account become available to the funeral home once the trustee has shown proof of death and proof of services rendered. Individuals are also allowed to make advanced payments directly to funeral homes and cemeteries. It’s important to note that the laws and protections for these prepaid accounts differ from state to state.
Paying Through an Estate
Funeral costs can be paid using assets from the deceased’s estate. It should be noted that the funds will not be directly available, and immediate costs will need to be paid by someone else. Once the estate is settled, the person that arranged the funeral and paid for costs can be fully reimbursed.
A friend or family member can pay for a funeral if there are no funds in the deceased’s estate. If no one close to the departed can afford to pay for a funeral, the local government can step in and take care of the arrangements. This will generally be done in the most expeditious and inexpensive way available.
By planning ahead, you can be sure that loved ones will be able to afford your funeral expenses and not have to worry about that aspect of your death.
The Funeral Rule
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established the Funeral Rule in 1984 in order to protect consumers from unfair business practices when dealing with a funeral provider. It states that, as a consumer, you have the following rights:
- With some exceptions, you have the right to choose only the funeral goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service) that you want. You are under no obligation to accept a package that includes items you don’t desire.
- Funeral directors are legally obligated to give you price information on the phone if you request it. You do not have to give them any personal or contact information first.
- The funeral home must provide you a General Price List (GPL) that you can keep. It should list all of the items and services offered and how much each costs. If casket or outer burial container prices are listed on separate sheets from the GPL, it is advisable to ask for these prices in order to know all of the pricing options available to you.
- Before you pay, you should receive a written statement that shows exactly what you are buying and how much each item will cost.
- You are allowed to use an “alternative container” rather than a casket for cremation. There is no state or local law that requires the use of a casket for cremation. Funeral homes must inform you about alternatives, like fiberboard, cardboard, pressed wood, and unfinished wood.
- If you purchase a casket or urn online, at a local store, or elsewhere, the funeral provider cannot refuse to use it or charge you an additional fee for doing so. They also can’t require you to be present when the casket or urn is delivered to them.
- You are under no obligation to include embalming when you make funeral arrangements. There is no state law that requires embalming for all deaths. Some states do require embalming if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain timeframe.
You can contact the FTC if the funeral home you are dealing with fails to comply with any of the above.
Contact Our wrongful death attorney s
Funerals can be expensive and leave loved ones at a loss of how to pay. At Gordon & Doner, we fight to recover this money for those clients with valid wrongful death claims. We can evaluate your case and inform you about your legal options.
We are proud to represent clients in:
- West Palm Beach
- Ft. Lauderdale
- …and surrounding areas
Contact us today at 1 (855) 722-2552 to speak with a member of our intake team. He or she will collect some initial information about your case and then quickly connect you to one of our first-rate Wrongful Death Attorneys .
Alternatively, you can simply fill out the form above and we will contact you. It’s 100% free and confidential.