Tag Archives: advance funeral planning

One on One Funeral Planning Consultation

As of December, 2016, I have temporarily removed my book from sale while it’s undergoing revision.  In the meantime, you can still get excellent Funeral Planning Advice from me by making an appointment to talk with me on the telephone for a maximum of one-half hour for $35.00.  During that time I will show you how to save money when making Funeral Arrangements, among other areas of importance.  Doing it this way will be faster than the consumer sitting down and reading a book.  We can get to your areas of interest right away.

Please contact me for more information.  Just email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.


Will Online Competition Affect the Funeral Business?

What effect, if any, will online competition have on the funeral business?  Will growing online sales of funeral goods and services  change the industry in any way?

I think the funeral business has been slowly changing to reflect online competition, and more importantly, the trend towards immediate cremation rather than a traditional funeral, but I do not anticipate any huge change or disruption in the near future.

Funeral providers are already forced to be transparent in their pricing.  According to the FTC Funeral Rule, a funeral home is required to provide a written price list.  They must accept a casket purchased elsewhere, and are not allowed to apply a markup or service charge to it.  Cremation providers already advertise their prices in various publications, and discounting is common in that area.

Regardless, even if consumers purchase their own caskets, they are usually obliged to go to a licensed funeral provider for other services needed, be it embalming, preparation, transportation and burial of remains, etc.    So profits have been declining while costs are increasing, but I don’t believe the industry will change drastically.  I recommend the best way to save money is for consumers to always price shop before the need arises.

If you have any questions about funerals for either humans or pets, ask the expert!  Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.


Cremation Tip!

How can consumers save money on cremation services?

Try the following:  Go to a local telephone book or search on the Internet in the area where the cremation will take place.  Look up “Cremation (or Memorial) Services” ,  and “Funeral Homes”.  Call several of them.  You should be able to receive price information over the telephone without the need to visit each facility you call.

Have a question about funerals or funeral planning for humans or pets?  Ask the expert!  Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.



Will Your Death Put Your Family in Debt?

The cost for a traditional type funeral plan can be substantial, a major expense comparable to purchasing an automobile, furniture, or even a home, but it is the least researched purchase made by most consumers. Generally speaking, consumers look at talking about funeral planning prior to death as taboo, and this type of thinking can cause overspending and other problems, including how to pay for the funeral plan without running up debt they cannot afford to pay back. I advise consumers to look at funeral planning like any other financial investment and include it in their retirement savings plan. Funeral planning and how to pay for it should be included in financial planning matters and should be offered by financial planners to their clients.

If a death occurs suddenly and without warning, such as due to an accident, then a financial burden can occur within the family. When death occurs, many times family members want the best funeral plan available to honor their loved one, possibly never thinking about how it will be paid for. They pay the funeral director, cemetery or other facility with a credit card or other financing option; then the bills come due!

The death of a family member could cause a negative financial situation for the survivors if the deceased did not have any life insurance, death insurance or money in an account such as a Totten Trust which could help pay for funeral and final disposition expenses. This is why it is so important to become as educated as possible about the funeral planning process prior to a death.  Visit funeral homes, get price lists, visit cemeteries and mausoleums and get their price information, so you can be as educated as possible about making a funeral arrangement either at need (a death has occurred) or pre-need (a death has not occurred or is not even anticipated in the immediate future) and stay within your particular budget.

Generally the funeral home will want full payment at the time of death. Even if the deceased had a prepaid funeral plan, paying for it in monthly installments, if death occurs before all the payments have been made, they will usually be due in full at the time of death. So this can be a challenge for many families who do not have cash available to pay off the amount due.  Also, the deceased’s assets and accounts may not be available to the family until the estate has been settled.

There are many ways to save on the cost of funerals, including direct cremation options. Please check out my website, www.askthefuneralexpert.com, and my article “Frugal Funeral Planning” for tips and suggestions.

Have questions about funerals and funeral planning for both humans and pets? Contact Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.


U.S. News Article on Planning for Funeral Expenses

I was interviewed recently for an article in US News about the importance of planning for funeral expenses.  Here is an excerpt:

Death and funerals are taboo topics but ones worth learning about, says Mike Boyd, a former funeral director who founded the website AskTheFuneralExpert.com. “Funeral homes can capitalize on a family member’s unfamiliarity with the products they’re purchasing,” he says. “Odds are, they will make funeral arrangements one to three times per lifetime, so consumers should become as educated as possible.”

This is the message I am constantly trying to get out.  Consumers need to learn about the economics of funerals before the need arises.  The more you know, the more you can save, and the less are your chances of overspending or being taken advantage of when purchasing funeral goods and services, at a time when you are grieving.

If you wish to read the entire article, here is the link. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/10/07/how-to-handle-funeral-costs?int=aa6a09&int=a86509

Have questions about funerals or funeral planning for either humans or pets?  Email mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.


Good News for Pet Lovers!


More and more pet cemeteries nationally are allowing pet owners to have their cremated ashes in an urn be buried with their pet(s).  I recently spoke with a pet cemetery representative who told me their cemetery has three sections: one for humans, one for pets, and one for humans who wish to be buried with their pet(s).  Times have changed in favor of pet owners staying with their pet(s) even in the afterworld.  Long overdue!

If you are considering this type of final resting place, be aware that laws governing this type of funeral plan may vary from state to state. I suggest you do some research by contacting pet cemeteries in your area, ask questions and find out if this type of final resting place is for you and your pet.

Need additional help, please feel free to contact me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.


Hospice Care in Question?

Hospice care to me has always been thought of as care provided to patients who are near death. This care uses drugs, including morphine, to make the passing of the patient easier.  I recently read an article that really disturbed me regarding Hospice care for patients not near death.

Is Hospice providing service to patients not in need of their type care yet?  It appears that some physicians may be recommending patients enter Hospice care programs unnecessarily, and Hospice accepts these type patients.  In many cases this is not appropriate or helpful to the well-being of the patient, and in some cases the patient emerges from Hospice addicted to powerful pain killers.

It is most disturbing to think that this is happening in our health care system, and Medicare is being billed for this service by Hospice.  Is it time for someone to look into this questionable practice by Hospice?

If you (or your loved one) are referred to Hospice care by a physician and do not feel it is the appropriate care for your medical condition, always seek a second or even third medical opinion.  It may prolong your life!

If you have questions about funerals or funeral planning, email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Unique Places to Scatter Ashes

The following is a guest post by Steve Wyso of My Cremation, serving Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.

Losing a loved one is never easy, but parting with their ashes can be an emotionally freeing experience. If the departed has chosen to be cremated, finding a location to scatter the ashes can be a confusing situation. Read on to discover suggestions on unique locations to scatter ashes.  

Private Land: Many families have privately owned land that has been passed down from generation to generation. Casting your family member’s remains on your families land is appropriate, particularly if your family spent a lot of time there. For example, your family may own a farm or vacation home. Scattering ashes in these private locations will keep your family member close to your heart forever. 

Landmark:  A landmark can take on a variety of meanings, including a national landmark or a personal landmark. If a loved one travelled a lot, or travelled to a particular destination often, scattering their ashes there would be fitting. Popular landmark locations in the United States include the Washington Monument and the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. Personal landmarks can take on many forms. A loved one may have been particularly fond of a neighborhood park or lake. Scattering their remains there will commemorate them in a unique way. Be sure to check the local laws before scattering.

Sea: Casting ashes at sea has grown more popular in recent years, and a popular choice for family members who were fond of boating. Common locations include the Chelsea Piers New York Harbor, Cape May New Jersey, Daytona Beach Florida, and Maui Hawaii. Your family can hire a company to hold special services at sea to commemorate the life of your loved one before casting their ashes into the ocean.

Stadium: Scattering ashes in a famous stadium or at a local sports club would be fitting for a departed sports lover. In this situation, speaking with the groundskeeper or management at the facility is paramount to be sure you are allowed to scatter the ashes there. Many of these facilities have strict policies set in place, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  

Outer Space:  Many people dream of journeying into space, but not many consider becoming part of the earth’s orbit. Astronauts now have the ability to take a sizeable portion of ashes and send them into earth’s orbit, deep into space, and even onto the surface of the moon. Special celebrations called launch events are held where friends and family can gather to watch the ashes be brought up to space.

Celebrate the life of your friend or family member by casting their ashes in a unique place. For more information on cremation and cremation services, contact My Cremation.


A Cask with your Casket: Funeral Home Adds Wine with your Service

These days funeral home and cemetery operators must think about other ways to attract clientele.

A Florida funeral home now offers a wine gathering during its funeral services, and another funeral home is offering catering options that allow families to hold receptions on site.

Have questions about funeral planning? Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Airlines Cancel Bereavement Fares

I discussed airline bereavement fares in my book, “How to Bankroll a Funeral Without Breaking the Bank”, but times have changed, and discounts may no longer be available.

Most airlines have eliminated these discounts, since lower-priced tickets are usually available with online purchase anyway.  You must check with a particular airline to find out their bereavement fare, if it exists at all.

Have questions about funeral planning? Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Undercutting the Undertaker

I was recently interviewed for an article in the Deseret News entitled “Undercutting the Undertaker: Reducing the unavoidable expenses of dying”.  I want to thank the reporter, Michael De Groote, for a good article featuring Funeral Director Ron Henderson and myself.

You can read the entire article here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865594665/Undercutting-the-undertaker-Reducing-the-unavoidable-expenses-of-dying.html?pg=all

If you have any questions about funeral and funeral planning for both humans and pets, contact me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

FTC Fines Funeral Home for Noncompliance with Funeral Rule

A New York funeral home and its funeral director/owner agreed to pay a $32,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges for violating the agency’s Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to provide information consumers need to compare prices and buy only the funeral goods and services they want.

The FTC conducts undercover inspections every year to ensure funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule, which gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements.  The Rule, issued in 1984, requires funeral homes to provide consumers with itemized price lists at the start of any in-person discussions of funeral arrangements, caskets, and/or outer burial containers.  The Rule also requires funeral homes to provide price information by telephone on request.  It also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining any other funeral good or service.

(Source:  ftc.gov)

Live Radio Talk Show

On 12/11/13 I was a guest on Dr. Jeanette Gallagher’s BlogTalk Radio show discussing the need for Funeral Planning education before a death occurs.  We covered many areas including pre-planning, pre-financing, and what consumers should know and understand prior to purchasing funeral and final disposition goods and services.

*****  If you would like to listen to the hour-long program, click here.  *****


Totten trust

A method of financing a prepaid funeral plan is a Totten trust. A Totten trust is a “payable on death” bank account, naming a beneficiary. This beneficiary could be the funeral home who will provide services upon the owner’s death. The consumer has control over this type of account and can move out of the area or even cancel it without the fear of losing money placed in the account. This account sets aside money for funeral arrangements, so the consumer should discuss this plan with their funeral director, who may allow price protection on certain goods and services, knowing the funeral provider is named as the beneficiary of the account.

I suggest looking up “Totten trust” on the web for a detailed, consumer friendly explanation of this type of account. A Totten trust may only cover the funeral home part of the funeral plan. The final disposition part of a funeral plan including burial plot, mausoleum crypt or cremation niche may be considered extra. Always discuss these areas with your funeral provider, be careful when making these type of arrangements, get everything in writing and included in any contract you are considering signing. Have questions, e-mail me:  mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com


Pre-Financing a Funeral

Pre-financing (prepaid) funerals require a great deal of investigation and understanding prior to making that type of financial commitment. With the amount of money required for this type of investment, it should be considered as part of your financial portfolio.

There are many things to understand before signing up for this type funeral plan, and please use a great deal of CAUTION!   For example:

What parts of the funeral plan are “price-protected”, or guaranteed to remain at the current contracted price? Items that are not price-protected against inflation may require more money invested into the funeral plan at the time of death, which could be months or years later, as it is a pre-financed plan.

Which items are classified as cash advances which are not price protected (guaranteed)? An example would be the cost of the death notice in a newspaper.

If you move to another area or change your mind and want to cancel the prepaid funeral or final disposition plan, find out how much money will be returned to you if you cancel the plan prior to death, and whether you will earn interest on it. This should be clearly defined in the pre-financed contract, along with how long it will take for you to receive the money back.

What happens to your money if the funeral home, cemetery or mausoleum facility is sold, goes out of business or bankrupt? Investing your money into these type businesses is not like putting money into a savings account at a bank. If the bank fails, your money is generally protected. It may not be so here! The prepaid agreement should clearly define this area so you know how your money is protected.

I will discuss Totten Trusts and how a bank account controlled by the consumer can help pay for funeral arrangements in a future blog.

Consider your options and contact me with questions, or to share your experiences in this area. I’m here to help!     Email mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Funeral Pre-financing Tips

Planning ahead is always a good idea, but if you’re going to consider pre-financing of a funeral, be sure you know which items are guaranteed at today’s prices and which items may increase in price over the years (such as cash advance items). Not everything may be price-guaranteed. Also, if you are going to make a pre-financed funeral arrangement, always know the transfer options in case you move or relocate to another area in the future. If there is not a funeral home in the new area that is a member of the same funeral home chain, what will happen? This should be clearly defined in the contract made with the funeral home.
These subjects and many others are covered in my book, “How to Bankroll a Funeral Without Breaking the Bank”  available at amazon.com, or order directly by clicking on the Buy Now button in the right hand column on this page.

Click on the “Ask a Question” tab to ask your funeral questions, and I will be happy to answer them.


Frugal Funeral Planning

Check out Mike’s article, just added to the blog today, “Frugal Funeral Planning”, which contains more money-saving tips for the frugal funeral shopper.  Just click on the Frugal Funeral Planning tab above.

Your questions and comments are welcome.  For permission to reprint this article, email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.