How to cut down on funeral costs – – the best is to plan ahead while you are still alive and well

There are many questions that people ask about funerals – – “What should you do when your beloved ones pass away?”
“What should I tell my beloved ones before I pass away?”.
This topic is one of the most important topics you can think of.
As a (retired) long-time, licensed funeral director in California, my personal feeling is that funerals are done not for the sake of the deceased but only for the sake of the ones who “lost” their loved one.

Personally, I am not an advocate for “traditional” funerals.
Nowadays, funerals can cost anywhere from about $12,000 to $15,000 and up.
In fact (strange as it may sound, coming from a long-time funeral director), I do not really believe in having funerals.
I even dislike the word “funeral” and would rather use the term “Memorial Gathering” or “Celebration of Life” gathering.

My feeling is that instead of having a funeral after one passes away, people should have a one-time “Celebration of Life” gathering at a most appropriate time while they are alive and well.
This could eliminate the need to have a funeral later on.
This type of having a one-time “funeral service” while one is still alive and healthy is becoming popular in countries like Japan.
They use a community center or a hotel banquet hall with food, music and dance – – in addition to giving the attendees a chance to eulogize that person on stage – – it’s like a celebrity “roast”.
And subsequently in the near future when that person passes away, the family will not organize any funeral, but will simply go for a simple cremation with no service.

(My wife and I will be having this type of an event soon.)

If anyone has any questions on how to cut down funeral costs, I am here to help you do so.

First of all, to those who are having financial difficulties, I recommend cremation, whether or not you are planning a memorial service later.

For those who are having extreme financial difficulty, my recommendation is Straight Cremation (with no embalming) with no service at all, or if you still want to have a service, then have it at home, or borrow a community center, or even rent a private room at a restaurant.
Straight Cremation (itself) with No Service should not cost more than $1500, or maximum, $2000.
However, transportation and other required procedures are not usually included as well as such items as a decent urn, instead of just a cardboard urn.
There are some decent, reliable Cremation Societies (such as Neptune Society) that can take care of everything (including transportation, relocation protection, and a decent memento chest) for around $2500.

Here is one thing that most people do not know:
You can actually declare yourself an ACTING AGENT, remove the remains yourself from the hospital, go to the doctor and have the doctor sign a death certificate, go to the Health Department yourself and file for a permit for disposition. And take the remains to a crematory…and receive the cremated remains directly from the crematory.

The only reason that funeral homes exist is because most people do not have time or knowledge of how to do it yourself, such as going to the Health Department and filing a death certificate and getting a permit, or removing the remains from a place of death, etc. etc.
All these things take time. And most people would rather hire someone else (i.e. the funeral home) to do all the work.

Some regulations vary from state to state.
However, basically the funeral homes exist because most people do not bother to do it themselves.
Sure, funeral homes are businesses, just like any other business, i.e., making money. Some are atrocious for pushing things to you that are not really needed.

Also, here is something most people do not know.
You are not obligated to buy a casket at a funeral home. Actually you can buy a casket directly from some casket companies.

Going back to the topic of cutting down funeral costs, here is another way to do it.
For example, the casket is not required for a viewing.
A viewing can be held on a viewing table.
The remains can still be there, fully dressed and cosmetized….but the casket is not required.

Even wooden caskets are not required for cremation.
The least requirement is a cardboard cremation unit.

However, if you’re having a burial (as opposed to cremation) at a cemetery, then a good ole pine box is O.K.
However, most cemeteries require, in addition, a concrete vault for the pine box (or any casket) to go in. (to prevent “cave-ins”)

Sure, some folks say that when they pass away, they will make it simple.
Actually that’s what we all say.
But, in reality, when the death actually takes places, things do not go that way.
The surviving family, relatives and friends will not allow that.

The only way to guarantee your wish is to make a clear, documented will stating clearly what you wish, and legally.

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