KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Funeral planning is an emotional and often costly process that is surrounded by a great deal of uncertainty.
But, there are ways to save money. There are even some retailers out there getting into the funeral business that can bring the cost down
William Kotzias is already thinking about his funeral.
“I’m 67 years old and, you know, the future is the future and I’d like to have things arranged,” Kotzias said.
He said his own father, who was just 56 years old when he passed, was not prepared.
“The emotional situation overwhelms a person,” Kotzias said.
Kotzias said he’s thinking of going the route of setting up a prepayment plan with a funeral home, something his own sister did.
“Then made monthly installments for her funeral,” Kotzias said.
Funeral planning is an emotional and often costly process that is surrounded by a great deal of uncertainty.
While it is best to discuss end-of-life wishes with loved ones ahead of time, many people shy away from this difficult conversation or never get the chance to have it at all.
And with the abundance of options and information surrounding funerals, it can quickly become overwhelming during an already difficult time.
“To me, it’s almost like a sequence of owning a new car. How many options do you want?” Kotzias said.
According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000. That includes viewing and burial, basic service fees, transporting remains to a funeral home, a casket, embalming, and other preparation.
The average cost of a funeral with cremation? That’ll cost you around $6,000 to $7,000.
Sounds expensive, right?
Those costs don’t even include a cemetery, monument, marker, or other things like flowers.
Though, there are ways to save.
“The main way we do it is by doing packages,” said Dimond M. Piggie, Owner and Funeral Director at Golden Gate in Kansas City.
Piggie said their packages are all customizable.
“We have packages that range from $3,750 all the way up to $10,000 just depending on the families desire,” Piggie said.
The most important thing to consider, is knowing your rights before planning for a funeral.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first introduced the “Funeral Rule” in 1984 to prevent funeral homes from pressuring people into buying goods and services they don’t need or want.
One thing to note is that you do not have to purchase a casket from a funeral home. You can order one from a third party retailer and, by law, the funeral home has to accept it.
“Between Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, Amazon, they’re really a one stop shop,” Piggie said.
That’s right! Not only can you buy automotive parts, clothes and food nowadays, you can even purchase a casket online! The Federal Trade Commission notes the average casket costs slightly north of $2,000. But, at these major third party retailers, you can get one as low as $900.
But, be careful because you could end up paying more than you think in the end because at some funeral homes like Piggie’s, if you don’t purchase a casket through them then you aren’t eligible for a discounted package.
“From there, everything else is not included, it's itemized. So, they’ll end up coming out of more money going that route,” Piggie said.
According to Eric Smith, Owner of Direct Casket Outlet, another way to save on funeral costs is the embalming process.
The Federal Trade Commission says there are no states that require routine embalming for every death.
“It’s more of a health issue, why funeral homes require it. But, if you’re just doing a private viewing, just a graveside service, you don’t need to be embalmed. There’s no reason for it,” Smith said.
You also don’t have to take advantage of a funeral home's visitation and memorial services, unless this is something that is important to the family or the deceased.
When it comes to purchasing a vault, something that could cost you an additional $1,000 or more, Smith said you don’t necessarily have to purchase it.
“Burial vaults are not required by either state law -- Kansas or Missouri. Most cemeteries do require them, but there is at least six cemeteries that I know of that don’t require them at least in part of their cemetery,” Smith said.
It's a planning process that, when it comes down to it, Piggie said is more about the families.
“The burial, the funeral and the whole ceremony is more for the living than it is for the diseased,” Piggie said.
Which is another reason Kotzias said he plans to have everything taken care of ahead of time.
“Having an event that’s memorable, and meaningful and has emotion connected in a positive form,” Kotzias said.