Planning funeral ahead saves money, reduces stress

Planning funeral ahead saves money, reduces stress

Jim Shirley, vice president, Shirley Brothers Mortuaries & Crematory,

Tony Lloyd, chief operating officer, Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Centers,

John Leppert, president, Leppert Mortuary & Crematory,

What's the average cost for a funeral service?

Shirley: The simplest cremation service starts right at about $2,000. A traditional funeral service can range from $5,000 to $9,000.

Lloyd: It depends on what people's preferences are, but it's around $6,700 for all funeral services.

Leppert: It varies with the consumer's choices, but usually it's around $10,000 for a traditional service, and $6,000 for a cremation with a service.

What are the benefits to preplanning your final arrangements?

Shirley: If a family has the guideposts in a prearrangement to follow, it makes the decision-making process much easier.

Lloyd: It relieves a burden on the family since they'll have to make fewer decisions when a loss occurs. You're also ensuring you carry out the wishes of the person who made the arrangements.

Leppert: It lifts a burden from the family, but for some family members, taking part in the final arrangement decisions helps them get through the process.

Do you save money by paying in advance?

Shirley: There are cost savings since you pay in today's dollars for a service that will be provided years later.

Lloyd: If you choose to pay ahead of time, you secure your choices at today's pricing and it relieves a financial burden.

Leppert: In terms of what the mortuary charges, what you pay today is guaranteed for the future.

When do people usually decide to preplan their final wishes?

Shirley: There's no typical event, but many people start thinking about their plans after they experience the death of a friend of family member.

Lloyd: Many people decide to make arrangements after the death of someone close to them.

Leppert: It's usually after or around an event, such as a friend or family member dying.

How have funeral services changed in the last few years?

Shirley: The increase in the percentage of people choosing cremation is one of the biggest changes.

Lloyd: There are a lot of new technology-based offerings such as DVD tributes and Internet broadcasts of services for those who can't attend the ceremony.

Leppert: When we started, about 7 percent of our services were cremations. Now, it's closer to 30 percent.

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