When a loved one dies, grieving family members often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral, all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. The amount of money to be spent is frequently among the first issues that must be considered. After all, funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral, including a casket and vault, costs about $6,000, although "extras" like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards or limousines can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Many funerals run well over $10,000.
Often, even those who are comfortable negotiating the price of major purchases, are reluctant to compare costs or negotiate details and prices when confronted with funeral expenses because they will be perceived as being “cheap”. Others are willing to overspend on a funeral or burial because they think it is a reflection of their feelings for the deceased.
To help relieve families of some of the decision-making burden, an increasing number of people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and are sometimes even paying for them in advance. In many cases, funeral preparations are made as an extension of will and estate planning. This trend suggests that many consumers want to compare prices and services so that ultimately, the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one.