A simple funeral can be a very sweet funeral. Simple doesn’t have to mean stark, and it can certainly still provide the funeral your loved one deserves. When devising a strategy on how to plan an affordable funeral, you can start with the basic goods and services you need and add extras as your budget and desires allow.
Before you begin any planning, it’s important to know your rights as a consumer. Under the federal law known as the Funeral Rule, funeral directors must provide, upon request, itemized prices of the goods and services included in the funeral. This helps you select services and goods that you desire, eliminate those you don’t want or need, and pay only for the services or items you choose.
Services and Goods
Funeral homes may offer package options that range from the very basic to highly elaborate, all of which must be itemized upon your request.
Common funeral service packages include the following:
Direct Funeral Service Package
In a direct funeral service, the funeral home and staff typically provide:
- Filing of relevant paperwork, obtaining relevant permits
- Transportation of deceased
- Basic casket or urn
Traditional Funeral Service
In addition to the services included with a Direct Package, a Traditional Package typically includes:
- Embalming and preparation for an open casket
- Outer burial container
- Use of a hearse Ceremony
Traditional-Plus Funeral Service
In addition to the services included with a Traditional Package, a Traditional-Plus Package typically includes:
- Visitation services at the funeral home
Casket prices can range from several hundred dollars to several thousands, based on the materials and detail work on the casket.
Wood is generally the most affordable option, with plywood covered in colored cloth the least expensive of the choices. Prices can increase based on the type of wood, hand-carved details, polishing and sanding.
Various choices for wood caskets include:
- Cloth-covered plywood or pressboard
- Wood laminates
- Softwood: Softwood comes from trees with needles or cones, such as pine.
- Solid hardwoods: Hardwood comes from trees with leaves. Prices of hardwoods vary based on the availability of the wood and type. Woods like walnut that feature many knots may be more costly than a wood that has fewer imperfections that need removal.
Metal casket prices vary based on the type of metal as well as the finishes and weights of the metal. Some may include a gasket for an airtight seal.
Various choices for metal caskets include:
- Solid steel or stainless steel
- Copper or bronze: Bronze coffins are typically the most expensive and often contain copper, tin or zinc in their composition
Special features that can affect the casket price include the type of lining and other embellishments in the interior or on the exterior.
In cases where the deceased will be cremated, casket rental is another option. Many families choose to hold visiting hours at a funeral home, and let family and friends pay respects. After calling hours, the body is cremated and the cremains may be buried, scattered, or kept in an urn as a remembrance.
Additional funeral services and goods can include flowers, a memorial service, obituary cards and limousine rentals, all of which add to the cost. Comparing prices from various funeral homes can help keep costs low, as can obtaining a price list. Resist pressure and emotional overspending. And remember simple can be sweet, as well as affordable.