Ask the director

Q. I know that (traditional) funerals can be
very expensive. My friend just paid almost
$6000 for her mother’s service. Are there
any ways to cut the costs of funerals without
sacrificing dignity and service? – (Part
A. (Saving on a funeral- ‘part 3 of 3’)
There are many ways to save money on a
loved one’s final expenses. Families can
cut $100’s and even $1000’s off a funeral
service, very easily. Any funeral home
should be willing to accommodate your
family and may even provide other ideas
of savings. If your funeral home of choice
does not cooperate with your requestsleave!
First of all, price shop- price shopprice
shop. Comparison shop for caskets,
vaults, services, grave markers, urns and
cemeteries. All funeral homes are legally
bound to give their charges over the phone
but a face to face meeting is a very important
step in choosing the people that will
be caring for your family in their time of
need. All funeral contracts are separated
into three categories; (1) merchandise, (2)
services, and (3) cash advances. In November
& December, we explored ways
of saving on the funeral services and merchandise.
In part 3 of this month’s ‘Ask
The Director’, we will explore the many
ways of saving on the cash advance portion
of the funeral contract.
Saving money on the cash advances can
be a little more difficult than saving on the
funeral or the merchandise because these
charges are usually not controlled by the
funeral home. Cash advances are other
outside charges that are not mandated by
the funeral home (ie. Certified death certificates,
the plot, honorariums, flowers and
opening and closing of the grave).
Certified Death Certificates
• The price of death certificates are
set by the state. The charge for certified
copies are $21 for the first and $4 for additional
at the time of ordering.
• We suggest that families always
order two more than they think they will
• Have the funeral home make several
copies of the certified. Some banks
and other companies may accept a zerox
copy to close an account and the certified
copies can be saved for future use.
• Veterans will also receive one
free death certificate.
The Plot/Opening & Closing of Grave
• FYI- if a plot needs to be purchased;
it’s usually less expensive to purchase
in a county cemetery rather than
inside city limits. Most cemeteries inside
city limits may also have an up-keep fee if
it is a perpetual care cemetery.
• It’s difficult to save on the opening
and closing but here are some ideas.
Ask if it would be less expensive to not
have a tent or chairs. Many grave services
will knock off a hundred or so, if the tent
and chairs are not set up at the graveside.
Have a formal chapel services and a less
formal graveside could help families save
• Opening and closing fees can run
anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending
on the cemetery. If it is a county cemetery,
ask if the family can dig the grave
themselves. This may seem a bit strange
to some but can be a wonderful way to
honor a loved one. We once had a family
that had nine grandsons. The family met
at the cemetery on a beautiful spring day,
had a family picnic and the boys hand dug
grandpas grave. They also hand lowered
his casket and vault into the grave with
ropes (no lowering device need) the day of
the service. Their actions not only saved
the family almost a grand on the service,
it also provided a special memory of their
final goodbyes.
• Many ministers and singers will
be expecting an honorarium for their involvement
in the service. The amount of
the honorariums are traditionally up to the
family but most start at $50 to $75.
• Some funeral homes will have
a chaplain that conducts the funeral for a
small donation to a local church ministry.
• Forgo this charge by having family
and friends conduct the service. This
can be organized by the funeral director at
no charge.
• A nice casket piece can set a family
back a few hundred dollars. Many funeral
homes have silk pieces that families
can rent or use for free.
• FYI- Roses and tropical flowers
are your most expensive while carnations
and mums are the least. Have the florist use
inexpensive ‘filler’ like baby breath, daisies
or ribbons. Use a personal belonging,
such as a cowboy hat, sewing machine,
etc. as large filler.
• Instead of casket flowers; use
grandmas favorite quilt on the casket,
framed family photos on the top of granddads
casket or how about a saddle for
the horse rider in the family. The ‘casket
piece’ is only limited to the families imagination.
There are still many ways to save on funeral
services but I hope this gives our readers
a good head start on the inside saving
that can be gained. Pick up November and
December issues of the Texas Twister for a
complete list of great ways to save on a funeral
service. (If you have a question that
you would like answered in this column,
please write to ASK THE DIRECTOR
c/o Ingram Funeral Home P.O. Box 2218
Quinlan, Texas 75474).