Funeral prices have skyrocketed in the last 10 years with the average funeral, according to The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), now at $7,755. However, those are just basic fees so just how much does a funeral cost in Texas? This does not take into account any cemetery fees, obituary fees, or State and death certificate fees. This is only the cost at the funeral home for things like caskets, outer burial container/vault, the hearse, maybe a few flowers and typical memorial items like a register book and some memorial folders. At the cemetery, the average family could then spend anywhere from $4,000.00 to $10,000 depending on where the individual wants to be buried. An average obituary in Texas is around $450 on top of the funeral home costs. State government fees for death certificates are a minimum when held up to the other costs of a funeral. In Texas it is $21 for the first death certificate and $4 for each additional copy. It would be fair to say that the average traditional funeral in Texas when all is said and done would be well over $10,000. This can really be an ominous number when a family has to come up with the money in less than a week to be able to pull off a funeral. And unfortunately, funerals typically aren’t on the minds of those who are faced with these costs unexpectedly.
How can families know how much a funeral costs in Texas and make intelligent decisions when purchasing a funeral?
The following are three tips to help educate our readers on the ins and outs of funeral pricing and costs to make sure they get the best deal.
1. Make sure you have a copy of the “General Price List”
This is super important (that’s why it is number one). Every funeral home by law must have a General Price List and on that price list must be the price of every service that that funeral home provides. This price list is to ensure that the consumers are aware of the prices and there are no changes, such as price increases or hidden fees. The price list they hand to you during the arrangement conference is the price list the have to go by and that is the law. The prices that have to be on this list include casket and vault ranges, embalming and cremations prices, hearse, viewing and any other charges they normally offer to their customers. “Cash Advance” items you will not find on the price list because these are usually charges the funeral home just passes on to the family with no markup. These items include death Certificates, State fees, permit fees, clergy honorariums, trafic escort services, etc.
2. Advertising Could be a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Many funeral homes will advertise the price of a funeral or Cremation but their advertised price could be a ploy to get you in the door advertising a $900 cremation price might seem like a good price but make sure they don’t tack on a a $300 cremation fee making your out the door price $1,200.00 Another example is advertising a $3,700.00 burial service with a casket. But you have to ask yourself “what casket?” You get in the door and see the casket and it’s the most hideous casket on the market. They know no one will buy the light blue cloth covered cardboard casket hat was introduced in the 70’s because it really is Hideous. You pick one you like In the “mid range” selection and find out its $2,000.00 more than the one they are advertising this is a classic. Service goes from $3,700.00 to $5,700.00. Oh but then you find out that you have to buy a vault and it is not included either in the advertised price. You find out the vault is another $1,300.00 and now your price just at the funeral home is $7,000.00 before any death certificates of cemetery costs. Many different combinations exist in this “bait and switch” feeling of advertising. Make sure if you respond to an advertisement that you get all the details first and you know the “out the door price” on everything you need and want for the services for your loved one.
3. Don’t Dig Yourself Into a Hole with Cemetery Costs
Much like funeral home costs there are so many things that go into buying a couple of cemetery spaces for you and your significant other. If you respond to advertising at a cemetery for a great deal on a couples burial plot, make sure all the prices are disclosed before you make any final decisions. The cost that gets most people is the opening and closing costs. This is the cost to dig the grave and cover it back up again. This cost is never included in the advertised prices. This cost can be as little as $500 to as much as $2,000,000 and it all depends on what Cemetery you buy your plots at. A scenario we see often is that a couple buys plots from their local cemetery 20 years ago for say $800.00 for two plots. They feel everything is taken care of. In that 20 years the cemetery has changed owners a couple of times and today the cemetery is owned by a corporation that is located in another city far away and they are now charging an opening and closing fee of $1,500.00. This cost was not paid for 20 years ago and can be a surprise to the owner of the plot and ultimately it adds to the costs families have to come up with at the death of their loved ones. Something else we see often is 20 years ago when our family bought cemetery plots they panned on a burial but with funeral costs so expensive today they want a cremation. It makes sense that an urn with cremains in it is significantly smaller than a casket and you would think that it would be reasonable to burry two sets of cremains in one burial plot to save some money, but cemeteries have wised up to this thinking and have now started to charge for a “second burial right” for the same space this cost could be as much as half the cost of a plot adding another $750.00 to $3,000.00. These costs can be really frustrating surprises when a death occurs and you thought it was all handled 20 years ago. So if you own cemetery property its a good idea to check in every once in a while to make sure these costs don’t sneak up on you.
Funeral costs are continuing to go up and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. It is important to make sure you are educated on how a funeral costs in Texas with the services you want by running by your favorite funeral home and grabbing their price list. This will help you know how they are getting you in the door and then reveal what they are really trying to get you to buy. Same goes for cemeteries. Go by and get all the facts so that when you get to the point you need it, there won’t be the frustrating realization that you are not finished forking out the dough.