Although all funeral homes will offer an Immediate Burial package, they may not tell you about that option unless you specifically ask. Even if they do, the exact components of an Immediate Burial package can vary from funeral home to funeral home, and the pricing of the components will also vary widely.
It is very important to understand what is included (or not) when you begin price discussions with a funeral home. For Immediate Burial, these are typically:
- Basic Services Fee (covers sheltering the remains, necessary permits, preparing the death certificate, coordinating arrangements with the crematory, a portion of funeral home’s overhead, etc.);
- Transporting the body from place of death to the funeral home;
- Dressing and casketing the body;
- A basic “minimal” casket;
- Transporting the casketed body from funeral home to the cemetery;
- Filing of the death certificate;
- Notification to Social Security.
The following are NOT included in an Immediate Burial package:
- Rites or ceremony at the funeral home, gravesite, or elsewhere.
- Copies of the death certificate.
To ensure that you are doing a fair apples-to-apples comparison, you must verify that the quotes include the same components. When you call for quotes, be sure to specifically ask about these considerations:
— Transportation Charges: Each funeral home will have a designated “service area,” for transporting the body from the place of death to the funeral home and from the funeral home to the cemetery, and will charge extra if they must drive outside that area. A typical service area is a 30 mile range, but some funeral homes may have a service area of only 10 or 20 miles. At $2-5 per “extra” mile, that difference can add up to a significant upcharge. Tell the Funeral Director where you are located and where the cemetery will be and ask if there will be a transportation upcharge and, if so, how much.
— Storage of the Body: Typically a funeral home will provide refrigerated storage for up to 72 hours, included as “sheltering the remains” under the Basic Services Fee. Some funeral homes, however, will stipulate that they require embalming for storage over 24 hours. This potentially adds hundreds of dollars to the cost, so make sure that you ask the question.
— Casket: A casket of some kind will be required for burial in a traditional cemetery. You may choose to buy as casket from the funeral home or supply your own. Immediate Burial typically uses the most basic “minimal” casket but some funeral homes’ Immediate Burial prices include a casket that is not the least expensive one they sell. Other funeral directors do not include the cost of any casket in their quote for direct burial. Make sure that you ask if the price includes their most basic “minimal” casket.
— Cemetery Expenses: Keep in mind that there will be other cemetery-related expenses required for traditional burial that are seldom included in the Immediate Burial price. These are: the outer burial container (vault or graveliner), the cemetery plot itself, opening/closing of the grave, and the headstone or marker. Many funeral homes do sell outer burial containers and may be able to help you make the arrangements with the cemetery.
— Graveside Service: Funeral or memorial services are by definition excluded as a component of Immediate Burial. If, however, you do want a way for family and friends to say good-bye to the deceased, a simple closed-casket graveside service can often be added to an Immediate Burial for a reasonable upcharge. This will be much less expensive than coordinating a full funeral or visitation/viewing. If this is important to you, ensure that you discuss it with the funeral homes in advance.
Keep in mind that you are not limited to your immediate area when you select a funeral home, especially if you are not going to be using the funeral home’s facility for a viewing or service. Since funeral home prices for the same services can vary by thousands of dollars, widening your search and considering funeral homes a little farther away could mean an enormous savings, even if they charge a little extra for transportation. To get started, CLICK HERE to check out our sortable table of all funeral homes licensed in Georgia with their available pricing information.
Decide which funeral directors you’d like to talk to, and call several (CLICK HERE for a sortable table of the funeral homes’ contact info) to explain what you want and ask for a quote. Federal law requires that they give you actual prices over the phone. Don’t work with a funeral director who makes you feel bad or guilty about wanting or needing to save money. After shopping around, make appointments to go in to talk with the two or three funeral homes who gave you the fairest prices and made a good impression on you.