Entries in Funeral (4)


Funerals: How to Beat The High Cost of Dying

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- They say death and taxes are inevitable. When you hear that old truism you probably picture all of the money the taxes will cost you. But guess what?  Death can be pricey too because funeral homes and cemeteries sometimes charge high prices during our time of grief.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have just fined a Washington, D.C., funeral home $25,000 for failing to provide a list of casket prices to consumers before they choose one.  That's against the FTC's funeral rule, which is meant to make sure people know all of their options when making arrangements for the death of a loved one.

Funerals are one of the most expensive purchases consumers ever make.  A traditional funeral costs about $6,000 and fancier ones can easily top $10,000

In the past, unscrupulous funeral homes have only shown customers fancy caskets.  Rushing to make funeral arrangements, many families have felt they had no choice but to go with one of these expensive choices.  That's why, every year, the FTC goes undercover to see if funeral homes are informing customers of their full range of choices.

Under the Funeral Rule, consumers have the right to choose the specific goods and services they want, instead of being pushed into a package deal.  Funeral directors are required to give customers an itemized price list that they can take home with them.  They are also required to give customers a list of casket prices before they show them any caskets.

If you choose to buy a casket from someone other than the funeral home, you can.  Funeral homes are not allowed to refuse an outside casket.  You can also switch funeral homes at any time, as long as you pay the original funeral home for the goods and services you have already used.  Here are some other common funeral schemes:

  • Charging extra for filing the death certificate or getting it medically certified.
  • Charging a fee to handle an outside casket.
  • Charging a commission for forwarding payment to third parties.
  • Claiming embalming is required by law when it's not.
  • Charging for goods and services that the family did not request.
  • Charging for goods and services that the family did request, then not providing them.

There are additional pitfalls at the cemetery.  It's better to deal directly with the cemetery, so you know what you're getting, rather than buying a cemetery plot through a funeral home.  Make sure you visit the cemetery in advance and that you like it.  Then, sign a contract with the cemetery, including the itemized cost of each burial service and the location of the plot.  Religious and non-profit cemeteries often don't have to be licensed; for-profit cemeteries often do.

Shoddy maintenance is another frequent problem.  When you visit the cemetery, look for signs of deterioration.  Consider whether you're buying one of the last plots.  If so, the cemetery won't be bringing in new revenue for much longer and may face financial difficulties.  Make sure your contract with the cemetery specifies the level of maintenance you can expect.  Choose a cemetery with a perpetual care fund -- the fund sets aside money for maintenance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Steve Jobs' Private Funeral Takes Place

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- A small, private funeral was held for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported and ABC News confirmed with a person familiar with the matter.

The location and time of the event was not known.

After Jobs passed away on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is planning “a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon” – believed to be separate from Friday’s event.

A statement from Jobs’ family on Wednesday evening said that he “died peacefully today surrounded by his family.”

“We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve,” the statement said. “We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Latest Sign of Economic Hardship: Families Unable to Bury Loved Ones

Darrin Klimek/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Research from the National Association of Counties suggests an increase in the numbers of unclaimed bodies and indigent funerals as the economy has worsened.

Due to the combination of the economic downturn and rise in funeral costs, communities everywhere are seeing this trend. Research shows just more than half of nearly 50 coroner's office respondents cited an increase.

The city of Jacksonville, Fla., alone cremated 306 indigent people this fiscal year through July. That number is up from a total 297 and 241 in the past two years. In another example, Nevada’s Clark County recorded an almost 11 percent increase in indigent burials and cremations over the past year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Death in a Digital World: Company Offers Funeral Webcasts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. CLAIR, Mich.) -- Death in the digital age means always being able to say goodbye. In the same way that memorial services for Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy and the six people killed Jan. 8 in Tucson became Web events, FuneralOne, a Michigan-based company, enables any funeral to be broadcast live on the Internet.

"The idea of funeral webcasting was never meant to be about replacing people actually attending the funeral," said Joe Joachim, CEO of FuneralOne. "What it was really made for was to give people a chance to connect with family and friends and be part of that experience for those that could not afford to attend."

Videos of services can be archived so others can watch it later, even multiple times.

This is mourning in the digital age, and it's becoming a big business. In 2008, 126 funeral homes offered webcasts through FuneralOne. By the end of 2010, that number had climbed to 1,053.

Joachim said he doesn't have an obsession with death, just good business.

"I'm not a funeral director," he said. "I'm not from a funeral background whatsoever. Really, if you look at it at the end of the day, I like solving big problems. I'm always driven by creating products that can change the world and improve lives.'

"The ultimate definition of that is...if we can change what people are doing in the death care space, which is traditional by all means," Joachim said. "And if we can figure out how to create change in that industry, then we can do it anywhere."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio