“Bless your little pointed head….” my high school Algebra teacher, Mrs. Benedict, said this to me often. I always struggled with math and didn’t like numbers much. But when I began to help clients with their final arrangements – I could easily do the math.
One client came to me and was concerned about her math. She had gone to a local funeral home, at age 69, had chosen a cremation service package for $3,500 and then asked to set up a payment plan. She was given a payment plan alright. The funeral home set her up on a monthly payment plan, for about $47 a month for TWENTY YEARS! She was in pretty good health – and statistically could live until age 89. If she indeed lived that long, she would have paid OVER $11,000 for a $3,500 plan! Does that math make sense to you? Had she chosen to use an Irrevocable Funeral Trust, she could have paid in the $3,500, payments would be fine until she reached the desired amount, and she would have received interest instead of paying an exorbitant amount of interest!
Funeral homes should be our friends. We need funeral homes at the time of death. We need them to pick up our loved ones from the place of death, care for our loved ones, and carry out the wishes of our loved ones. But, let the math do the talking! Pre-planning is best done Not With A Funeral Home! Funeral homes are prepared to deal with the details when a death occurs.
Price lists from funeral homes are mandatory and are regulated by the FTC. However, price lists can be confusing at best. Package deals are the current favorite of the funeral homes. Are you a Package A, B or C? What if you don’t like all of the package components? Do you pay for the whole package anyway? Consumers are not required to pay for anything they do not use. If you are offered a package, you should be able to extract the price of any components of the package you do not want. Each component of the package should be listed separately on the general price list. Pre-planning independently of a funeral home allows the consumer to be adequately prepared prior to a death, and to have decisions made so they know what they will be purchasing. Pre-planning protects the consumer from being “upsold” at the time of death. Having your “math” (budget) determined ahead of time protects your loved ones from “emotional overspending”….being “guilted” into spending money they didn’t plan on spending or spending money they don’t have.
Another “math problem” from a funeral director – cremation gives consumers alot of flexibility with plans. I heard one funeral director give a very emotional speech about survivor grief, closure, and other family issues while “urging” consumers to choose some specific services. The one thing he failed to mention in his emotional speech was that by making the plans he was suggesting, it increased his sales by almost $4,000! If the consumer wanted the plans the funeral director was outlining, that would be fine, but making emotional pleas to the family at the time a death has occurred is a math problem….one that doesn’t work out favorably for the consumer.
So…how are your math skills? Can you do the math for pre-planning independently of a funeral home? Do you want to pay interest or receive interest? Do you want to pay for the services rendered or pay many times that amount? Do you want to pay for the services you wish to have or do you want to pay for the services that the one who will profit wishes you to have? Are you pre-planning or are you leaving your loved ones subject to the math problems that are a result of not pre-planning?