Consumer Reports: Managing the cost of a funeral

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Funeral homes are not required to post their prices online, and many don't. But that may change soon. (WPVI)

When a loved one dies, it's emotionally hard enough to plan a funeral. But adding to that challenge is often a financial stress since many funeral homes make it hard to comparison shop.

Funeral homes are not required to post their prices online, and many don't.

But that may change soon.

Stephanie Garry runs one of the handful of nonprofit funeral homes in the country. She and funeral director Mitch Kronish say it should be quick and easy for families to estimate the cost of a funeral.

"We post our prices on our website. We also make our prices available at our front door and over the phone, email, fax," said Kronish.

"Whatever we can do to ease that burden, we try to do," added Garry.

They also publish the prices charged by nearby funeral homes.

Consumer Reports says a proposal before the Federal Trade Commission would require that ALL funeral homes publish their prices online.

"Funerals can cost thousands of dollars, and usually time is of the essence. The problem is you often have to call or visit the funeral home to get a price sheet," said Nikhil Hutheesing, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

Consumer Reports recommends getting quotes from as many as five different funeral homes, setting a firm budget, and sticking with it instead of getting pushed into spending more.

"One thing you may not know is that you don't have to buy the full package that a funeral home may pitch. You have the right to pay a la carte just for the products and services you want," said Hutheesing.

For instance, you don't have to buy the casket at the funeral home. Retailers like Costco sell them, too, and will deliver.

Also, embalming is generally not needed if the burial or cremation takes place within a certain time.

Dropping the viewing can save money as well.

"The FTC has a handy checklist for funeral services and products. Just go to and type in 'funeral checklist'," said Hutheesing.

Once you've decided on a funeral home, you're entitled by law to get an itemized statement so you know exactly what you will pay in the end.

And it's not out of line to negotiate with a funeral home. In fact, Consumer Reports says it's worth trying.

For more information on funeral costs planning, CLICK HERE.
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