Many people put off making a will or preparing other estate planning documents because they don’t want to think about the inevitable – their death. So the idea of funeral planning while you are still quite healthy would definitely create some anxiety. But not only can this relieve your family and loved ones from having to make these decisions after your death at an already chaotic and emotional time, but funeral planning can actually be an important part of your estate planning process that not only guarantees that you have the funeral that you want, but may also save your family hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Recent studies show that the average cost of a funeral, including embalming and a low-cost casket, is over $6,500. This doesn’t include the costs of having a graveside service at the cemetery, which can cost as much as $3,000. So the average cost of a traditional funeral, even without splurging on a high-end casket and other extras, is close to $10,000. Unlike shopping around for the best price on a car or a house or even furniture, some people may feel that there is something distasteful about shopping around for funeral services. But it usually isn’t going to require going in and haggling with the funeral director. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires every funeral home to provide a written list of its services and prices upon request. And they cannot charge you a fee or refuse to use a casket that you purchase somewhere else for a better price. Even stores like Wal-Mart and Costco have been selling caskets. Most people or their families have certain traditions and rituals that they want included in a funeral or memorial service. Spending a little extra on these sentimental items that will likely be remembered is probably a better investment than a high-end casket that will only be seen for a short time. While making these funeral planning decisions long before they are necessary can be emotional and awkward, the discomfort is likely well worth having your wishes carried out and keeping the extra dollars in your estate that might otherwise be spent freely during an emotional time.
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