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Buying a casket or urn on your own for a funeral

By Erica Lamberg
Shopping on your own for items like caskets or urns can be a way to cut down costs of a funeral. Dylan Gillis / Unsplash

Shopping on your own for items like caskets or urns can be a way to cut down costs of a funeral. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Shopping around can save money

The FTC’s Funeral Rule mandates that consumers do not have to accept packages at funeral homes and are free to pick and choose the goods and services they wish. Funeral providers are also required to provide a current and itemized price list when requested.

Comparison shop for a casket

A casket is generally the largest expense of the price of a funeral. According to Consumers’ Checkbook, on average, the price of the casket alone accounts for approximately 30 percent of a funeral home’s total charges. Prices for identical caskets can vary widely among funeral homes, so it pays to comparison shop.

Wholesale clubs like Costco sell caskets; so do online sellers like Amazon and Walmart.com; some casket manufacturers sell direct to consumers online. A Consumers’ Checkbook found that for a basic oak casket, the average price quoted by area funeral homes was about $3,000, compared to $1,195 to $2,000 at a range of wholesaler and e-commerce sites. The same comparison-shopping approach can be used to when handling remains following a cremation. Urns and decorative containers are widely available through online sellers.

Under federal rules, a funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, another store, or somewhere else. They are also forbidden from charging a fee if you use a casket purchased elsewhere. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them. In simpler terms, you are not required to buy a complete funeral package from a funeral provider.

Try some old-fashioned haggling

It may seem like a time when bargaining or haggling isn’t appropriate but it’s never wrong to try to save a bit on expenses. Once you have quotes from direct sellers like Costco or an online store, consider approaching the funeral home to negotiate a lower price on their casket, coffin or urn. They know the law, and they know you are free to shop around. Most funeral providers have the discretion to lower a price; they may just do that once they know you are shopping elsewhere.

More:Don’t let emotions dictate funeral costs

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