Talking about death is always an awkward topic (even though it will happen to all of us), but this is my version of the many similar PSA-type funeral articles you’ll come across in personal finance magazines and columns.
The standard advice: If you are in the unfortunate circumstance that you are looking for funeral services, you should compare prices and services. The same service and products from two different funeral homes can vary by thousands of dollars. Even worse, some funeral homes are quite aggressive at pushing optional services as “necessary”. It is best to shop around.
Here are some good resources committed to educating shoppers:
- Shopping for Funeral Services – FTC.gov
- Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist – FTC.gov
- Don’t pay too much for a funeral – Consumer Reports
- How to Read a Funeral Home Price List– Funerals Consumer Alliance
The problem with this advice: comparing prices is a big hassle. All these pages will tell you to compare prices, as I just did. The government even requires that funeral homes provide their prices upfront upon request. However, they don’t require them to post them in an itemized manner online, so it is still a hassle to call up multiple places and make sure you are comparing prices for equivalent services. Parting.com is the first “price search engine” for funeral homes that I’ve seen that has apparently manually asked thousands of funeral homes for their price disclosures through phone calls, e-mail, and fax. Here is a screenshot for Los Angeles, California:
I have not actually used Parting before, but I wouldn’t mind using their work to help me get started. Hopefully their reviews database will fill out over time. I came across other pricing sites, but they either had limited quote coverage or they charge an upfront fee (FuneralPriceFinder and I’mSorryToHear).
You may also consider restricting your search to funeral homes that work with the non-profit Funeral Consumer Alliance, if they have affiliates in your area.