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Funerals 101

"Things you always wanted to know but never asked"

From a consumer’s perspective, any course called “Funerals 101” should begin with the following idea that sales people in the industry will not always acknowledge: there is no such thing as a “traditional” funeral. Funerals can be as elaborate or as minimalistic as one desires, and that means (despite common claims on life insurance commercials) a funeral does not have to cost $5,000 - $10,000. A simple - but-fitting funeral can cost $1,000 or even less. So, our little Funerals 101 course will focus on getting what you want in a funeral, not on what a sales person wants you to want.

The first, and most important, lesson to learn in Funerals 101 is planning. This is the key to saving thousands by not falling prey to high-pressure (car salesman-like) sales tactics that are unfortunately very common in the funeral industry. (These Many have very important questions regarding funeral planning that go unansweredtactics are especially effective in the funeral industry because even the most aggressive negotiator can be forgiven for backing down considerably while he or his family is in the midst of emotional devastation. Other industries in which high-pressure sales are the norm simply do not have this amazing advantage over customers.)

Funeral planning involves serious discussion, well in advance of when it’s needed, of what a person’s desires are for a funeral. Each person in a family owes it to his relatives to leave clear instructions as to how he or she would like to be memorialized, consumer experts say. This is important from a relationship perspective as well as from a Funerals 101 perspective. It is healthy, and even therapeutic, to talk honestly about this topic among loved ones. And, of course, being able to present a funeral director with a precise list of well-considered desires, can lead to dramatically reduced prices for a funeral. Only the most brazen of funeral sales people would dare to suggest expensive upgrades to a list of funeral services and products that has been carefully pre-selected by the deceased. Armed with such a list, a family member can simply visit a funeral home once at the time of need and insist that the deceased’s wishes be carried out as prescribed.

For best results, the planning must be very thorough. To prepare a helpful list, a good Funerals 101 student will devote a considerable amount of time to research on the types of funeral products and services available and what they cost. He or she will also establish a budget and make secure arrangements for the funeral to be paid. Paying in advance is also a consideration, but consumers should be warned that a goal of many funeral sales people is to make additional sales of It is very important to ask all questions regarding a funeral even those that seem embarrassing“optional” services at the time of need, and these services often can quickly add up to double the amount of the original payment. Also, paying in advance carries with it a number of self-evident risks from which consumers are not always protected despite heavy government regulation in most areas of the United States.

For best results, this Funerals 101 course recommends that everyone simply plan their own funeral or memorial service very specifically, make sure plenty of friends and relatives understand the plans well, and then keep a sufficient amount of “funeral money” in an interest-bearing savings account so that paying for the plans will not be a burden to friends and family. Life-Insurance proceeds are probably best used to cover living expenses of a spouse or children who had long been dependent financially on the deceased. Whatever you do, this Funeral 101 warns adamantly, against letting a funeral director know that a life insurance proceeds are due. In the high-pressure world of funeral sales, such information will definitely lead to an overpriced, unnecessarily elaborate funeral.

For most people in today’s world, a simple, inexpensive funeral is to be desired. The most important thing to remember in Funerals 101 is to simply not let anyone talk you out of something like that.

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