A full-scale “traditional” funeral, complete with embalming, steel coffin, wake and burial is quite expensive. The average was $7,400 in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. A funeral with cremation was about $6,300. But costs vary widely and can easily exceed $10,000 for consumers who don’t shop around.
Federal rules require funeral homes to itemize their charges rather than quoting a single package price. But many bereaved consumers don’t take the time — or aren’t assertive enough — to examine all the charges and consider whether they can afford them. (See Love often trumps budget in funerals.)
In many cases, families are ill-served by financing a lavish send-off at the expense of other obligations. But if you can afford it, and if you really want to have a traditional funeral service, it’s important to scrutinize the Federal Trade Commission’s pricing checklist. It will help you be sure you are paying for what you want, and nothing more.
The FTC, by the way, is supposed to revisit its rules sometime in 2019 and possibly tighten them a bit. But it will still be up to the consumer to pay attention and, ideally, plan well in advance. It’s a lot easier to think clearly now than when you’re dealing with a painful and perhaps unexpected death.