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3 Misconceptions of Funeral Planning

Making funeral arrangements for a loved one can be confusing. There are so many decisions to make, and often not enough time to think about your options. What is a typical funeral cost average? Do I need an outer burial container? Should we have our loved one embalmed? To answer some of these questions and make the funeral planning process simpler and more manageable, here are some common misconceptions around funeral arrangements.

1. Misconceptions around the cost of a funeral service

Many funeral planners are under the impression that they must choose a funeral service package when making funeral arrangements, but that's not the case. While there are times when purchasing a package makes financial sense, funeral planners should understand that they also have the option (legally) of purchasing any funeral product or service individually. When beginning the funeral planning process, all funeral planners should request a general price list – an itemized price list of the funeral home’s offerings. Funeral directors are legally obligated to provide this if you ask, and it can help you understand the itemized costs as a consumer.

With the price list in hand, you can make a more informed decision on the options available to you and the prices you can expect to pay. Keep in mind that the general price list may not paint a fully accurate picture of the full cost. Cash advance items like crematory fees, death certificates, clergy and celebrant gratuities, obituaries, flowers, and musicians, are not always included on general price lists, and can raise the total price of the arrangement. Whatever you choose to purchase, the funeral home will provide those average prices.

2. Misconceptions around embalming

Many people assume that embalming is required by law, that it protects public health, and/or that the process will protect a loved one's body from decaying. These rules may vary based on situation. Embalming is not required by law for the first 24 hours following a death, and in many states, it's not required at all. Embalming also does not protect public health. In fact, the process of embalming a body may cause several environmental issues as it involves replacing body fluids with the toxic chemical formaldehyde. Additionally, while embalming will preserve a body for a number of days, it will not keep it from decomposing. Talk with your funeral director to see if embalming is necessary for your situation.

3. Misconceptions around protective caskets and vaults

You might think that you can preserve your loved one's body with casket that has a gasketor with a sealed burial vault, but the body will decay regardless of how well it's sealed within the casket or vault. And while many assume that burial vaults are required by law, no state requires them. That said, many cemeteries do require the use of burial vaults or grave liners to keep the ground from sinking.

With any funeral consideration, laws and pricing changes by location and state. It's always important to talk with your trusted funeral provider first, before making any decisions regarding your funeral arrangements.

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