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NFCC Poll Reveals Most are Unprepared to Pay for the Inevitable
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:50 AM

It has been said that the only two things that can be counted as certainties are death and taxes. Uncle Sam ensures the payment of taxes every April 15, but there is no such uncle forcing Americans to prepare for the other inevitable event: funeral expenses.

When asking consumers if they were financially prepared to pay the funeral expenses of a loved one, the recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) online poll revealed that an overwhelming 83 percent either were either not prepared to take on the financial responsibilities associated with a funeral, or had no idea what a funeral costs.

The average cost for expenses associated with a funeral in the U.S. is reportedly between $7,000 and $10,000.  Funeral decisions can become complicated, generally involving multiple entities such as the funeral home, the cemetery and purchasing a headstone or grave marker. The funeral home may offer to provide all of these services as a package, or the consumer may opt to contract with each entity separately.

With so many decisions to be made, the NFCC suggests that consumers consider the following when planning a funeral:

  • Know the funeral preferences of your loved ones, and make sure that those responsible for your burial are aware of yours.
  • Comparison shopping may sound crass, but what other $10,000 expense would a person make without comparing costs and features? Apply the same smart shopping techniques that would be used for other major purchases.
  • Avoid emotional overspending. Remember to resist any pressure to buy goods and services that aren’t truly wanted or needed.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires the provider to present an itemized statement of the total cost of the goods and services selected when the arrangements are being made. If certain costs are unknown, they must provide a written “good faith estimate.”
  • Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It's a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires and which are optional.