We’ve said repeatedly that prepaid funeral plans are bunk–the industry is too unregulated to be trustworthy, and it’s far too easy to lose money when you could just as easily set up a savings plan for a funeral on your own. Now there’s news from California that the state’s second-largest prepaid funeral trust was spending money “improperly” on everything from political lobbying to conventions, blowing $12.6 million from the $70 million paid in advance by customers.
The last place you want to find The Other Woman is on her back next to your husband. Especially when he’s dead. A woman named Lillas Hawkins in California found just that when she went to visit her husband’s grave two weeks ago. When she pointed out the error to a cemetery worker, she says he responded, “We are in terrible trouble.” The cemetery is owned by a company named Dignity.
Remember Burr Oak this past summer? That was the Chicago cemetery that dug up bodies and resold the graves to new customers. Well, yesterday a U.S. Representative from Illinois introduced the Bereaved Consumers Protection Act, a bill that would standardize record-keeping, make cemeteries accountable to federal officials as well as state, and protect consumers from shady business practices.
Someone wrote to us this week that a person in his family is terminally ill, and that he was told “that the cost of the casket, funeral, viewing, and burial would possibly exceed 12,000 dollars.” He thinks that’s an “exorbitant amount of money,” and so do we. There is no reason to pay that much money for a kick-ass funeral that people will be talking about for years to come. You don’t need to be a cheapskate to manage this, either—you just need to be aware of your rights and know what traps to watch out for. Here’s our list of what to do the next time you have to plan a funeral.
The Mount Auburn Funeral Home in Stickney, Illinois, mixed up the tags on a couple of bodies, so that when mourners showed up to view 91-year-old Lillian Grogan on Monday, they instead saw a different lady wearing Grogan’s clothes and jewelry. When a granddaughter tried to find out what the funeral home had done with the real Grogan, she discovered the woman had already been buried. She was exhumed and reburied yesterday. Hey, at least cremation wasn’t involved.
Prepaid funeral plans are the “extended service warranties” of the funeral industry—profitable for the funeral home but often useless.