Cheapest funeral options

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McCharley
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Cheapest funeral options

Post by McCharley » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:59 pm

Hi, Bogleheads,

I have heard of many cases where funeral homes have sold expensive coffins and funeral options to vulnerable, grieving families. Most people that I know, myself included, would prefer their estate to be spent on the living. The cheapest option is probably donating your body to science, but this requires prior arrangements. I came across this amusing "Ask a Mortician" YouTube video that addresses the issue. According to her, the total cost of a cremation can be as low as about a thousand dollars. :moneybag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzrTl3kYHBE

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Alexa9
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Alexa9 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:02 pm

Cremation and a ceremony at a house or park or wherever they would like their ashes spread.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:06 pm

Yes, you can have the body cremated and have the ashes returned to you in a cardboard box, and not ask the cremation company to host a visitation. If you belong to a church, you can have a funeral there for a small, probably voluntary, donation. Flowers optional. Or skip the funeral if that is not meaningful for you. No need to spend a lot of money. Put the ashes in a columbarium, or scatter them wherever you have permission (because to suggest scattering them anywhere you don't have permission would violate the Terms of Service for this site.)

It doesn't have to cost a lot, my in-laws were frugal to the core and this is what they wanted.

f35phixer
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by f35phixer » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:39 pm

Alexa9 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:02 pm
Cremation and a ceremony at a house or park or wherever they would like their ashes spread.
+1

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jeff1949
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by jeff1949 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:21 pm

McCharley wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:59 pm
Hi, Bogleheads,

I have heard of many cases where funeral homes have sold expensive coffins and funeral options to vulnerable, grieving families. Most people that I know, myself included, would prefer their estate to be spent on the living. The cheapest option is probably donating your body to science, but this requires prior arrangements. I came across this amusing "Ask a Mortician" YouTube video that addresses the issue. According to her, the total cost of a cremation can be as low as about a thousand dollars. :moneybag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzrTl3kYHBE
Loved the video. The next one on cryogenics was interesting too......and funny! :sharebeer

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mrc
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by mrc » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:27 pm

Whole body anatomical donation is one way, but some institutions impost a fairly high fee if they work with a funeral home. Others cover the entire cost. And it's possible that the body cannot be accepted for anatomical use (e.g., if it's too heavy, communicable disease, isn't discovered timely).

Look for "Direct Cremation" in your locale. One near here is $875. And that includes a FREE urn (up to $150 value!!!!!!).
Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as best he can, the same cause. —AL

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CABob
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by CABob » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:55 pm

I think you might get cremation and a minimum of extras (and there will most likely be some extras) for under $1000. My MIL recently passed and I think it was less than that to the mortuary. A very small memorial service primarily for family was done separately. Most mortuarys will have price list of services some being online. For example or this one.
Bob

jminv
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by jminv » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:57 pm

I was recently and unexpectedly in the position of choosing a place for a cremation for a loved one, unfortunately. I was of the opinion that the money should be maximized to benefit the living but that whatever process should be at a proper place. The decedent felt the same way. It's a hard time to make good decisions and I feel that funeral homes can prey on this if the person arranging the service isn't aware. I checked funeral homes closer by and then in the nearby metro area including a direct crematorium. I found that the funeral homes charged at least 5.5 times the rate of the direct crematorium ($595) and many were higher than this 5.5 multiple. I was wary of the direct crematorium due to the low price point but it turned out it was a full service place run by a good group of people. The deceased was high ranking retired military and the crematorium's funeral director helped arrange for the national cemetary service and was more than happy to do so.

If the survivors are eligible hopefully you are aware or the decedent left instructions to apply for the social security and/or veteran affairs death benefits if eligible. In my case the decedent was eligible for both and it nearly covered the crematorium's cost.

Buy an urn online. This is a very high margin product for a funeral home and you'll find something better matching your loved one online. I found something terrific which matched him exactly.

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climber2020
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by climber2020 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:58 pm

I plan on specifying in my will to have my ashes placed in a Folgers coffee container. The friends and family around my age who are still alive at the time should get a good laugh at the reference.

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CAsage
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by CAsage » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:11 pm

Direct cremation, shop strictly by price. I think we paid under $800 for a 2016 pickup and direct cremation, may have included several death certificates. No ceremony and definitely no funeral services/add ons. Ashes distributed privately. We will remember our past relatives in our hearts - family only.
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Ged
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Ged » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:16 pm

This whole thing about burying the corpse seems macabre to me. Thanks for reminding me to put cremation as my preference in my last letter.

Small Change
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Small Change » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:30 pm

My mother was a proud member of the non-profit San Diego Memorial Society, which negotiates set prices with local mortuaries. Her cremation cost less than $1,000, including death certificates that I requested.

Perhaps there is a similar non-profit memorial society in your area.

https://sdmsonline.com/

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dm200
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:55 pm

If you arrange for donation of your body to a medical school, you must have a "backup" plan. There may be reason(s) the medical school cannot take the body - such as no need at the time, location of condition of death, or lack of consent of the next of kin at the time of death.

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dm200
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:57 pm

For those who are honorably discharged Veterans (and their spouses), you can be buried in a National cemetary or have ashes in a columbarium (parhaps at Arlington national cemetary).

Theseus
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Theseus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:25 pm

My father wanted to give his body for research purposes. Nothing was written when he passed away last year, but my mother remembered that when we were calling funeral homes. The hospital where he was recommended a couple of organizations. We contacted them, and they took care of everything. My mother had to sign some documents. But there was no cost. They even sent us death certificate and ashes. They sent us a report of how his body was used - several months later.

There was NO cost.

Woodworker2
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Woodworker2 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:06 pm

I have made plans with the state medical school for pickup and delivery. After the body is used in the anatomy department what remains of the remains will be buried in a mass grave with the other donors. They even provide a priest, a rabbi and a cleric for the burial. All free.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:10 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:55 pm
If you arrange for donation of your body to a medical school, you must have a "backup" plan. There may be reason(s) the medical school cannot take the body - such as no need at the time, location of condition of death, or lack of consent of the next of kin at the time of death.
When my MIL passed in mid-December a few years ago, we called the organization she had donated her body to and received a recording that the organization had all the bodies they needed and wouldn't be accepting new bodies until after the New Year. I had verified with the organization a few times over the years to make sure they still wanted her, so it was a surprise when we heard the message.

So we made a mistake and called a funeral home to do the cremation, which resulted in the bill being double what a direct cremation would have cost.

Live and learn.

A few months later we had a gathering at my house, and also had a service back in her home town.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:26 pm

I briefly and non-professionally worked in the funeral industry to earn tuition money years ago (I was the funeral director's assistant, driver, telephone answerer, and building maintenance person, and an extra pall bearer if one was needed). We offered what we called a quick cremation, and back then the funeral home was willing to accept the Social Security $255 death benefit in return for it. I doubt it can be had so cheaply today, but there must still be quick cremations.
PJW

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F150HD
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by F150HD » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:43 pm

CAsage wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:11 pm
Direct cremation, shop strictly by price. I think we paid under $800 for a 2016 pickup and direct cremation, may have included several death certificates. No ceremony and definitely no funeral services/add ons. Ashes distributed privately. We will remember our past relatives in our hearts - family only.
so what happens if one pre-pays a local Company X for a cremation like that in your local City, but then you relocate. How does that work when one passes away?

Would your deceased body need to be transported back to Company X to be cremated etc? I'm assuming as such but wondered how that works...

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abuss368
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by abuss368 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:56 pm

I would look into being shot into space like Mr. Spock!
John C. Bogle: "You simply do not need to put your money into 8 different mutual funds!" | | Disclosure: Three Fund Portfolio + U.S. & International REITs

RadAudit
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by RadAudit » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:19 pm

A friend of mine, who works as a funeral director, use to joke that for $250 two men would come and, if you didn't ask any questions, they'd dispose of the body.

However, I think cremation is one of the low cost options now.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course.

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CAsage
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by CAsage » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:43 pm

F150HD wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:43 pm
CAsage wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:11 pm
Direct cremation, shop strictly by price. I think we paid under $800 for a 2016 pickup and direct cremation, may have included several death certificates. No ceremony and definitely no funeral services/add ons. Ashes distributed privately. We will remember our past relatives in our hearts - family only.
so what happens if one pre-pays a local Company X for a cremation like that in your local City, but then you relocate. How does that work when one passes away?
Would your deceased body need to be transported back to Company X to be cremated etc? I'm assuming as such but wondered how that works...
I assume most of these companies work locally, and have a small community radius they serve. Would not recommend prepaying this in any case - it's not that expensive. Leave your loved ones a note about what your choices are.... Having to move Grandma very far does not seem like a good choice....
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

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whodidntante
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by whodidntante » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:44 pm

If your family owns a farm it can be quite cheap.

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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Taylor Larimore » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:53 pm

Bogleheads:

I have made arrangements for my body to be donated to the University of Miami for medical research. Hopefully, it will save my heirs and friends time, money and grief and help future generations.

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

bowtie
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by bowtie » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:13 pm

I think that the Funeral Consumers' Alliance has not only a national organization and online resources, but also local branches where people can get information. I seem to recall reading an article from a while back stating that there are some funeral homes which do post their prices online and they advocate for that and mention which ones do that.
Anyway, they might also have information that's helpful, though looks like the people here have many suggestions for you.

seamonkey
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by seamonkey » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:15 pm

Anatomical gifts are a great way to go. Some of us have learned so much from the privilege of working with a donated body — one of our first patients in medical training.

Thanks, Taylor. You’ll keep giving after you’re gone.

DarthSage
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by DarthSage » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:58 am

Whatever way you go, make sure you leave clear instructions with your family. My MIL died recently--she had wanted to donate her body to science, but for various reasons, this didn't work out. But, we all knew she was super cheap, as are we, the next generation. She would send us articles about cheap funerals. I jokingly told her that, if I thought I could get away with it, I'd wrap her in two black trash bags and leave her on the curb! Luckily, she thought this was very funny.

We ended up having her cremated. Fortunately, because her sons knew her, and knew her wishes, they didn't spend tons on fancy extras. They did buy a nice container for her ashes, along with a small container. MIL was a huge world traveler, and my 20yo son wanted a piece of Grandma to travel with us.

Pigeon
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Pigeon » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:35 am

Dh and I have huge families and experience with lots of funerals. In my experience, ridiculously expensive funerals aren't so much the result of the funeral home upselling as they are the relative in charge of the operation going off the rails. Funeral homes have overhead and are there to provide services for hire. In my state they are required to provide a standard price list.

I'm sure some are predatory but the ones I've dealt with have been very compassionate and not at all pushy. However, the decision-making relatives have gone over the top, insisting on the full fig visitations at the church (transport the body back and forth to the funeral home), tarting up said body, top of the line caskets, every little add on imaginable.

The dead would have been appalled as they were frugal people, and had made their wishes known, sometimes in writing. My FIL was not religious, nor is the rest of the family, and left instructions for something very simple. My religious eldest BIL arranged for a $20K religious extravaganza for a 94 year old man whose friends were all long gone. There were very few people other than family at the services. I think you can't do enough of expressing your wishes clearly, but also make sure the decision-making people are on the same page. In this case the funeral home staff kept trying to offer simpler, cheaper options and i can't blame them.

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dm200
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by dm200 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:52 am

A few years ago, a coworker's father died. To honor his father's desires and heritage, my coworker arranged for a Jewish compliant arrangement through some kind of Jewish funeral society. The funeral home that had the arrangement agreed to not push or sell "upgrades" - as well as comply with the religious requirements.

bogglizer
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by bogglizer » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:53 am

Green burials can be very inexpensive, if cremation is not your thing. One example is Eloise Woods in Austin, TX.

mmmodem
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by mmmodem » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:07 am

Theseus wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:25 pm
My father wanted to give his body for research purposes. Nothing was written when he passed away last year, but my mother remembered that when we were calling funeral homes. The hospital where he was recommended a couple of organizations. We contacted them, and they took care of everything. My mother had to sign some documents. But there was no cost. They even sent us death certificate and ashes. They sent us a report of how his body was used - several months later.

There was NO cost.
Thanks! This will be my plan A.

FIL passed away two months ago. It was $3000 altogether including a small open casket viewing in a room only big enough to hold 15 people. They even charged extra to allow family members to literally press the button to start the cremation process. I believe it was $1300 for the cremation and the remainder was for the viewing. This will be my plan B

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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by friar1610 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:13 am

dm200 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:57 pm
For those who are honorably discharged Veterans (and their spouses), you can be buried in a National cemetary or have ashes in a columbarium (parhaps at Arlington national cemetary).
I have checked out the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod, about 45 minutes from where I live. It's very nice and it accommodates both burials and inurement in columbariums (columbaria, for you Latin scholars.) That's the ticket for me. In addition to the price being right, I've always wanted a place on the Cape.
Friar1610

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Abe
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Abe » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:26 am

bowtie wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:13 pm
I think that the Funeral Consumers' Alliance has not only a national organization and online resources, but also local branches where people can get information. I seem to recall reading an article from a while back stating that there are some funeral homes which do post their prices online and they advocate for that and mention which ones do that.
Anyway, they might also have information that's helpful, though looks like the people here have many suggestions for you.
I can vouch for Funeral Consumers Alliance. I have been a member for many years. They monitor the funeral industry and advocate fair practices of behalf of consumers. I made a one time contribution and each year they send me a price list for funeral services from several funeral homes in my area. This is a link to their website: https://funerals.org/
Slow and steady wins the race.

Zonian59
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Zonian59 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:42 pm

My mother and I are in discussion about her final plans.
Her wishes are to be cremated.

Any thoughts on urns purchased from Costco? The ones online are brass and cost around $100.
Understand remains offered through funeral home or crematory can be considerably more expensive.

We live in California. Any legality issues with keeping the remains in sealed urn at home?
By keeping the urn at home, she "will be with me always" per her wishes.

Thanks.

OnTrack
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by OnTrack » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:30 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:10 pm
So we made a mistake and called a funeral home to do the cremation, which resulted in the bill being double what a direct cremation would have cost.
I don't understand why it is implied that cremation done by a funeral home and direct cremation are mutually exclusive. Funeral homes can do direct cremation.

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mrc
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by mrc » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:31 am

OnTrack wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:30 am
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:10 pm
So we made a mistake and called a funeral home to do the cremation, which resulted in the bill being double what a direct cremation would have cost.
I don't understand why it is implied that cremation done by a funeral home and direct cremation are mutually exclusive. Funeral homes can do direct cremation.
Perhaps they do. The difference is in the cost. Once the FH is involved, the price for comparable service rise quickly.
Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as best he can, the same cause. —AL

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dm200
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:44 am

mrc wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:31 am
OnTrack wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:30 am
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:10 pm
So we made a mistake and called a funeral home to do the cremation, which resulted in the bill being double what a direct cremation would have cost.
I don't understand why it is implied that cremation done by a funeral home and direct cremation are mutually exclusive. Funeral homes can do direct cremation.
Perhaps they do. The difference is in the cost. Once the FH is involved, the price for comparable service rise quickly.
No experience (yet) with direct cremation, but my understanding is that you can do direct cremation with a funeral home. In fact many funeral homes have the cremation facility located at/with the funeral home.

Where cremation becomes (moch) more expensive is if you choose having the body in a casket for the funeral (or perhaps even viewing) - and cremation after.

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lthenderson
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by lthenderson » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:08 am

McCharley wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:59 pm
Hi, Bogleheads,

I have heard of many cases where funeral homes have sold expensive coffins and funeral options to vulnerable, grieving families. Most people that I know, myself included, would prefer their estate to be spent on the living. The cheapest option is probably donating your body to science, but this requires prior arrangements. I came across this amusing "Ask a Mortician" YouTube video that addresses the issue. According to her, the total cost of a cremation can be as low as about a thousand dollars. :moneybag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzrTl3kYHBE
I came across her youtube channels a couple years ago after reading her book "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". It is an extremely well written and very funny book on the subject.

https://www.amazon.com/Smoke-Gets-Your- ... 0393351904

alfaspider
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by alfaspider » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:12 am

"This is our most reasonably priced conveyance"

Image

Image

Image

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:38 am

We recently had an unexpected death in the family. I took care of the arrangements (she wanted cremation).
I called the best known and that was the Neptune Society. They quoted about $2500-$3000. Since I was paying (and I am a Boglehead);
we found a local business that handled all arrangements for about $900. I was told by the other company by the time all the other fees were added in,
it would cost more. My total cost was $900 plus about $35 or so for a certificate.

Your local options, rather than the larger chains are usually more reasonable.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Cheapest funeral options

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:46 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:10 pm
dm200 wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:55 pm
If you arrange for donation of your body to a medical school, you must have a "backup" plan. There may be reason(s) the medical school cannot take the body - such as no need at the time, location of condition of death, or lack of consent of the next of kin at the time of death.
When my MIL passed in mid-December a few years ago, we called the organization she had donated her body to and received a recording that the organization had all the bodies they needed and wouldn't be accepting new bodies until after the New Year. I had verified with the organization a few times over the years to make sure they still wanted her, so it was a surprise when we heard the message.

So we made a mistake and called a funeral home to do the cremation, which resulted in the bill being double what a direct cremation would have cost.

Live and learn.

A few months later we had a gathering at my house, and also had a service back in her home town.

Broken Man 1999
ETA: By "direct cremation" I meant contacting a crematory directly, when the body is moved from the place of death, with no typical "funeral" services, such as casket, viewings, etc. The family had none of those "extras". Just a pickup, and return some weeks later of the ashes. Some funeral homes do have crematories.

After things settled down after MIL's death, I called a couple of crematories, and just pickup and cremation was about one half to one third of the price we paid. I didn't check to see if the funeral home we called had a crematory, or just used another. Even if they did the price was still very high.

Now I know, so won't be making that mistake again. Family members also know.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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