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Feature Articles - Aging


Planning funerals in advance makes decisions easier

Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor, Personal Financial Planning, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension


Americans spend billions of dollars a year to arrange more than 2 million funerals for family members and friends. Consumers who make funeral arrangements in advance can compare prices and services so the funeral reflects a well-informed purchasing decision, honors the deceased, and is meaningful to survivors.

When you shop for funeral products and services pre-need:


  1. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Choose a reputable funeral home so you know they will still be in business when the need arises.
  2. Ask for a price list. By law, funeral homes must give you written price lists for products and services. You can supply your own casket or urn.
  3. Resist pressure to buy goods and services you don’t really need.
  4. Avoid emotional overspending. You can properly honor a loved one without the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral.
  5. Recognize your rights. Funerals and burial laws vary from state to state. For information about Missouri funeral rules and laws or to file a complaint, see or contact the Missouri Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors at 573-751-0813.
  6. Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. You can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral and by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing.
  7. Plan ahead to comparison shop without time constraints, discuss the funeral with your family and limit the burden they will carry when they are grieving. If you are planning your own service, you may want to review and revise your decision every few years.


The FTC also offers a consumer guide to funeral planning, complete with a price checklist, glossary of terms, a description of services, information sources and a list of questions to ask. To request a copy of Funerals, A Consumer Guide, or for additional information, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visit the website



Adapted from “Pre-Planning Funerals Helps Make Decisions Easier,” (Federal Trade Commission), bcp/edu/pubs/articles/naps06.pdf (accessed November 14, 2008).


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Last update: Tuesday, October 11, 2011