Tag Archives: funeral

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.

 

 

Should I Donate My Body to Medical Science?

A popular notion lately is that donating one’s body for medical research is a good way to avoid or reduce funeral and burial costs.  It may not be that easy!

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death, not all remains are suitable for medical research use.  In the case of an accident, certain illnesses, or other causes of death, the body may no longer be in acceptable condition, and anatomical donation may be declined.

Consumers wanting anatomical donation should always have an alternate funeral plan in place, in the event donation is not possible.  For more information on this topic, please click on the Funeral Q & A Column heading on this site, where there is a sample question about anatomical donation.

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

Funeral Jokes and Funny Stories Wanted

I need jokes and amusing stories about death, funerals, and related topics for both humans and pets to post on my website, and I’m willing to pay for it! Just talking about death related issues can be  boring, and I would like to spice it up!  May sound bizarre but funny jokes and stories exist, and I would like you to contribute!

Here is how it works:

You submit any of the above to my email, mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com , and if I select your submission for placement on my website I will give you a complimentary one-half hour interview ($35.00 value) to talk to me personally about your funeral planning questions or plans, be it cremation, traditional funeral plan or whatever. It’s that simple! I will give you the best advice possible to help you in your decision making process.

Putting a funny side on a serious subject may help ease the tension of wanting to talk about the subject and allow the consumer to acquire more information about death before it occurs, to their benefit!

Let’s make it work! Consumers helping consumers better understand a very difficult subject in an upbeat manner.

All jokes and stories must be your original work only.  Please do not submit previously published material.

Thanks,

Mike

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.

 

Good News for Pet Lovers!

BE WITH YOUR PET FOREVER, EVEN AFTER DEATH!

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.

Mike

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.

It’s Not Our Loved One in the Casket!

A family went to a Florida funeral home only to find the person in the casket was not their loved one.  To make matters worse, the funeral home staff had dressed the stranger in the clothes the family had selected for their relative.  OOPS!   Within a short period of time the situation was corrected by the funeral home staff. Hopefully, the funeral home provided new clothing including undergarments at no charge to replace the clothing the family had provided.  A lawsuit in the works?

Have questions about funerals or funeral planning? Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Can Radioactive Seed Implants Prohibit Cremation?

Radioactive Seed Implants are sometimes used to treat prostate cancer. If cremation is being considered and the deceased has had radioactive seed implants, the crematory may not allow the deceased to be cremated unless the seeds are first surgically removed by a physician. If you have further questions on this topic, contact a Cremation Society, a Memorial Society, or a Funeral Home.

Have questions about Funeral Planning for both humans and pets?  Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

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.

Rising from the Dead

Recently a man believed to be dead in a body bag at a Mississippi funeral home shocked the funeral director when he began kicking to get out!  A coroner had pronounced the man dead at his home, but the alert funeral director saw that the man was, in fact, alive and he was rushed to the hospital.

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.

Fake Funeral Notice Can Be Deadly – For Your Computer

The FTC has put out a warning that scammers are sending bogus emails that appear to be from a legitimate funeral home, but that actually can install malware on your computer.

Read all about it at FTC.gov:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/fake-funeral-notice-can-be-deadly-your-computer

“60 Minutes” Highlights Cemetery Problems

I watched a “60 Minutes Special Edition” report on 5/20/12 hosted by Anderson Cooper on cemetery problems in the United States. It was most interesting and detailed problems within the burial (final disposition) industry.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted the Funeral Rule in the 1980’s to help protect consumers nationally when making funeral arrangements at the funeral home level. It is still in effect today. It appears that it is time to consider such a plan for the cemetery industry. The issues pointed out by Mr. Cooper’s report should not be tolerated in that market, as consumers are being hurt at a most vulnerable time in their lives by lax oversight of the cemetery industry. The federal government should step in as it did with the funeral industry and establish rules and regulations to be applied to all cemeteries nationally.

Thank you Mr. Cooper for this most educational and informative report!

Scam Alert!

I recently read an article about the top 10 scams targeting seniors, and funeral planning was one of the ten.

Be aware there are different approaches, including predators reading death notices and then trying to extort money from the family claiming the deceased owed them money. Be careful!  If this ever happens to you get complete contact information from the caller or visitor and notify the police department. And as mentioned in my book, never put the address of the deceased in the death notice.

 Also, unscrupulous funeral homes will try to add unnecessary charges to the funeral bill by taking advantage of the consumer who is not familiar with funeral policy and pricing. Always shop several funeral homes and final disposition places (cemeteries and mausoleum facilities) for pricing information, and acquire price lists where possible. For example, you may be told a casket is required for direct cremation. Generally a less expensive cardboard cremation box is OK for use.

My advice is shop till you drop and become an educated consumer about the subject before a death occurs, commonly called pre-planning of a funeral. If a consumer waits until a death occurs, and sometimes this cannot be avoided, they are at a disadvantage when making funeral and final disposition arrangements. Again, become an educated consumer about the subject before the need arises!

Suggestion: ask questions prior to a death, look at a website where you can acquire information, ask questions and even purchase a book to help you through the funeral arrangement process. If you read my book and have a question not covered in it, simply e-mail me your question and I will answer it at no charge.

Scams are everywhere, don’t get caught in this one!

Have questions?  Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

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

Mike

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.

A Party at the Cemetery???

I recently read an article about cemeteries hosting parties to attract future customers. These parties take place on the property and include entertainment, drinks and more. The purpose of these events is to make the locals more aware of what the cemetery offers in an “other than death” experience.  The cemeteries hope to make the public more aware of their offerings and make consumers feel more comfortable about purchasing their goods and services either at-need or pre-need .

The issue here is that to attend these events, consumers must walk over and stand on what has been considered sacred property. The deceased have a right to rest in peace without their resting place being walked over by event participants. 

Have questions or comments?  Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

Funeral Etiquette

I recently read a column about proper dress and items visitors bring to a funeral. Years ago, funeral visitation was more formal and proper. But times have changed and more liberal policies apply. Funerals to some are now a celebration of life and happy times remembered. Funeral providers are helping by having equipment available to project DVD’s about the deceased and more.

Look at roadside displays being used to mark the place of death. There are flowers, stuffed animals, and other objects attached to these respectful displays. Being more liberal and open minded about the subject of death helps everyone get through the sad time. Yes, there are situations when tradition is proper, but allowing a more liberal display is beneficial to the family, relatives and friends of the deceased.

Have questions about funerals or funeral planning?  Email them to Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com or click on the “Ask a Question” tab.

Red Light Traffic Cameras at Intersections

More and more communities are installing traffic cameras at intersections to catch motorists running red lights and making right-on-red turns without coming to a complete stop.  If you are in a funeral procession you may be directed to go through a red light, but no traffic citation should be issued.  A check of the traffic video should be able to verify that you were a part of the funeral procession if you receive a citation.