The worst of all purchasing situations for a buyer is when
- You must have the product or service and you must decide quickly
- You have emotional involvement in the purchase
- Your budget is unclear
- You have little information upon which to base an informed decision
In these purchasing situations we are likely to spend more than we can afford or fail to get a better deal. In the funeral business, the providers have the stronger bargaining position because they have most of the information and the customer is usually emotionally unbalanced and not thinking clearly.
I don’t want to imply that all funeral businesses are unscrupulous. Although some pride themselves on providing a dignified economical service for grieving families, other businesses can manipulate the family into purchasing services or products that or unnecessary or expensive. One does not have the luxury of time to do price comparisons, ask for recommendations, and other skills we use to make wise purchases of homes and cars when a loved one dies.
Tips for Easing Your Loved Ones Burdens
Document your final wishes
Few people want to accept that they or their loved ones will have to make this purchasing decision but we will die. In the absence of direction from the deceased, the family must make decisions on what would honor their loved one that may involve purchases that the deceased would have considered extravagant or unnecessary. Although Grandfather was the kindest man and “nothing but the finest oak coffin with the prettiest handles will do for him,” he might have been a practical man who just wanted a simple box coffin “the cheapest you can get.”
Some disagreements between loved ones take place as one child wants to honor the deceased but be practical and other siblings want to make purchases to prove to funeral attendees that they were not poor or cheap or to make up for not showing the love for the deceased when they were alive. We should not put our loved ones in a position to argue when they should be pulling together and supporting one another. We must accept our own mortality and for the sake of those we love provide direction on the disposition of our remains. Encourage your parents or grown children to also develop plans as you will certainly be involved in making the decisions for them in the absence of a plan.
Budget for services
If feasible, you may consider paying for the services in advance so the survivors are spared these confusing and anguishing decisions at a time when they are most unprepared to make them. In addition, this saves them from scrambling for money to pay for the services. Be sure to let your loved ones know what has been paid for and where the records can be located upon your departure. Consider giving copies to family members or close friends to keep in case something happens to your records.
You can provide for a future event at today’s prices but make sure that the company you purchase from is reputable and the guarantees are reasonable. With the instability in the economy you don’t know whether the company will be around when you are no longer around and you don’t want to lose your investment.
An alternative would be to put the funds in an interest bearing account to be used to cover the costs of the funeral. You may need to add additional funds periodically to account for the current value of the products and services that you want to use.
Since you are going to plan for, and possibly prepay, your final arrangements, shop around for the best deal. If you do not prepay you can outline in your arrangements what providers you prefer and specify products (or types of products) to use.