It’s tough enough when a loved one dies. You’re grieving and face big decisions. That vulnerability hasn’t been missed by funeral homes. A recent survey from the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America found that more than one-fifth of funeral homes failed to tell consumers about their options for simple cremations, violating the FTC’s “Funeral Rule,” which requires specified price disclosures.

The bad deeds don’t stop there. Twenty-two percent advertised prices for simple cremations that didn’t include the cremation itself. Consumers got a nasty surprise of fees ranging from $200 to $595 above the advertised cost.

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How best not to get kicked when you’re down? Mike Boyd, a former funeral director who’s written a book on saving money on funerals (askthefuneralexpert. com), offers these tips:

  • Know the truth. Embalming is not necessarily required for cremation. “It may be necessary if there’s a viewing prior to cremation,” says Boyd. A casket isn’t required either. New York State has strict standards for the operation of a crematory and is one of the few states that require crematory operators to be certified by an organization approved by the Division of Cemeteries. Find out more about the law at nwsdy.li/cremation.
  • Shop around. Prices vary. Check out cremation/memorial societies, as well as traditional funeral homes. Understand what’s included. Get a specific list in writing of what’s covered.
  • Be proactive. Says Boyd, “Waiting until a death occurs, although sometimes unavoidable, may make you vulnerable to purchasing unnecessary goods and services.”