Ripped off by the funeral planner. Any advice?


My mom and dad had a contract with a local cemetery for funeral pre- planning. She paid for this contract for several years. They had purchased their grave sites from my aunt who moved out of town. Neither one had a funeral, and in my mom’s case, since friends and relatives were gone, not even a notice was posted. When Mom passed, the bills still amounted to around $5000 for the grave marker and other fees. So, what did the pre-planning pay for? Do I still have the right to ask even though Mom’s been gone for a year? I will examine the original contract tomorrow, but I still feel like I got ripped and so did she.

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I understand what both of you are saying and thanks for your advice. I want to add that this cemetery does not have a very good reputation. It is a large corporation with several cemetaries. They’ve already been brought up on charges once that I know of.

As far back as I can remember, Mom and Dad did not want a funeral, We used funeral directors for both, but only to retrieve the bodies from where they passed. Dad passed at home, Mom in the NH. Nothing was done by the funeral homes except arrange transport to the crematorium. No embalming, no body prep or funeral prep at all. Followed their wishes to the letter. I need to get out this contract and go over it.

Just have the “hinky” feeling, you know?
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Well, FF, some cemeteries have funeral homes on the property. Even so, you are right they are usually two different contracts. I understood that her mom died awhile back. She was just remembering that she had to pay an additional $5000 and wondered what her moms policy had actually paid for.
Hugemom included the marker in her list of what was included in the $5000 and wondered what the prepaid contract could have possibly paid for. Preparing the body, picking up the body, dressing the body, all of these are line items on many contracts in addition to the ones already mentioned.
There are several components. The lot is usually separate (which by the way, some cemeteries will tell you that you don't own your lot, the cemetery does, you just have the right to bury someone on the lot you pay for if you can prove you bought it). The funeral itself and even that you can buy components separately. Like the casket can be purchased through Sams or Costco or other companies.
But not all funeral homes and cemeteries are the same. There are state laws and cemetery rules (like a vault is not a state regulation in some states but rather it might be a cemetery regulation). You have to listen very closely to what a consultant or sales person says. It's easy to get the wrong idea about what is required or included.
I think pre-need is the term they use in my area and this can be a policy sold through a third party company that many funeral homes will honor as they get paid by the third party company. Sometimes a person buys their pre-need policy at one funeral home and actually use it at another.
I had an aunt who died a couple of years ago at age 93. She had a policy that she bought as a young woman of 24. She paid $150 for it.
It paid for her funeral with the exception of the flowers. Now, not the lot or marker but the funeral which would have been about $10,000 otherwise. My aunt had an older brother who was killed in an motorcycle accident about the time she bought her policy. She paid for his funeral and bought a burial policy for herself and kept it all those years. There was a little grumbling from the funeral home but they honored it. Might have helped that she had bought it from the same funeral home where she had her service. The funeral home had been bought out by SCI but they still honored the contracts sold by the previous owner. You can bet they had to legally or would not have. But they are a business after all, there to make money.
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Hugemom, for the cemetery itself, the cost would be only for the cemetery plot itself, nothing else as the funeral home handles everything else. Since your Aunt sold the plots to your parents, the only fee would be a possible transfer fee with the cemetery. Make sure your Mom has the deed.

97yroldmom is right on regarding the headstone market, that is a separate company, separate contract.

Usually pre-paid is done for a funeral home where one picks out a casket and everything else involved with a funeral.
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Preplanning doesn't usually cover the marker or engraving. That cost will depend on the marker you chose. And then there is setting the marker. That's an additional fee.
Of course you have a right to ask. You should find all this on the original contract. Opening and closing the grave. A casket, a vault or grave liner, transportation. These are a few of the things I can think of. If she paid for things you didn't use like use of the viewing room, I doubt they would discount. You might could have negotiated at the time not to have used certain prepaid services in exchange for something you discovered you needed that they (parents) didn't preplan for. But doubtful.
Usually flowers aren't prepaid, clergy fees, police escort if needed. The list goes on. It's really good your parents had that taken care of for you as it can be very stressful at the time of death.
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