Friday, October 7, 2016

Pre-Planning Removes Emotion from a Financial Decision

by Dan Applegate
President, The Arlington Memorial Gardens

Did you know that funeral expenses, together with related interment and memorialization services, merchandise and cemetery property, are an important financial transaction for consumers? In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has estimated that a funeral is the third largest single expenditure many consumers will ever make, ranked behind only the purchase of a home and a car.

However, this transaction of such enormous proportions is frequently made under duress, in the midst of an illness or even a death. The emotions that accompany the pending loss or the actual loss of a loved one limit the ability of the person making arrangement to make careful, informed decisions.

The FTC, which has studied funeral services and funeral transactions for well over 30 years, has found that consumers lack familiarity with the funeral transaction itself: nearly 50 percent of all consumers have never arranged a funeral and another 25 percent have done so only once. Even in the best of times, how good are we at anything if we’ve never had the experience or have just “practiced” once? Throw in the impact of grief and we all can imagine just how easy it is to make bad decisions when we’re planning for a funeral with a sense of urgency.

When making arrangements under duress, consumers are frequently required to give authorization for such things as the removal of the remains of the loved one from the place of death to another location - typically a funeral home, and must also decide on a variety of other matters such as embalming, the purchase of a casket, the use of funeral home facilities, the type of interment (including the selection of an outer burial container), or entombment in a mausoleum, or cremation (where calls for additional decisions regarding the final disposition of the cremated remains – including how and what kind of memorialization is preferred).

If all of this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. In fact, the FTC calls this the consumer’s “disadvantaged bargaining position” based on the following factors: emotional trauma; guilt; dependency and suggestibility; ignorance; and, time constraints. The ability to make considered and well informed decisions can take place, according to the FTC, only when these factors are eliminated. Therefore, consumers are in the most advantageous position to evaluate the purchase of funeral and interment services, merchandise and cemetery property when the purchase is a “pre-need” transaction.

Pre-need purchasing gives consumers the opportunity to shop comparatively and make decisions without the time and emotional pressures associated with purchasing at-need. The FTC has noted numerous other advantages of pre-planning, and our Family Care Advisors would be glad to spend time with you reviewing those advantages and all of the options you have as pre-planners – including the significant cost advantages.

Call our office today at 521-7003 and ask for one of our advisors to openly and intellectually walk you through the process of pre-need planning  rather than planning during the turmoil of an at-need event.

Daniel Applegate became part of The Arlington Memorial Gardens organization in 2001 and has worked in the cemetery industry since 1981, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer and then as President of the Ohio state cemetery association.  He was appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich and served two terms on the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, Ohio's cemetery oversight agency. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.

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