What Should You Know about Funeral Expenses & Wrongful Death?

By April 9, 2019 Law Firm

A loved one died. Now, a funeral must be planned. As well as a possible wrongful death action. Your wrongful death action may produce an award that includes the costs of the funeral, but the award will not materialize prior to the funeral. So, you will be paying for it yourself. Here’s a rundown on how you should proceed with the funeral, the costs (so you don’t go overboard and not get reimbursed later for it — because there are limits), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules on funerals.

Funerals & How to Pay for It

Funerals can be one of the biggest expenses you and your family face after a loved one dies. You want to do right by them by celebrating his or her life the way he or she would appreciate. You do not, however, want to overdo it because — if you are intending to request reimbursement via a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party who caused your loved one’s death — then you want to be cautious of how much you spend.

In the United States and California particularly, a funeral can run up to $10,000. So, if expenses are well above and beyond this threshold, you may want to cut back.

There are three basic types of funerals:

  1. Traditional full-service
  2. Direct burial
  3. Direct cremation.

The traditional full-service funeral is obviously the more expensive version and get out of hand rather quickly. This funeral involves a funeral service followed by a burial service or cremation service. A funeral can become elaborate, too, depending on one’s culture and if there will be a viewing the night before and a celebration of sorts directly after the funeral.

The direct burial is just that: a burial directly after death. There is no viewing, visitation, or embalming services. The family may, however, have a memorial service at the grave.

The direct cremation involves the decedent’s cremation without the need for embalming services shortly after death. Ashes may be returned to the family or sent to a crematory.

Paying for any of these — but especially a traditional one — can be costly. You will likely have to pay immediately and directly to the funeral home and services. The estate may pay for the funeral, but funds from an estate are usually never available immediately, so you will still need to pay out directly from your pocket.

As such, keep track of all your expenses. If handled properly, you should recover your losses.

FTC Rules to Know about Funerals

Under the FTC, consumers have rights — that means you if you are the heir planning your loved one’s funeral. The at-fault party does not get to dictate how you will plan the funeral of your loved one.

Basic rights include:

  • The right to choose the casket and services for your loved one.
  • When you call a funeral director, he or she is required to give you information over the phone upon your request, but you are not required to provide any information about yourself.
  • The funeral director is legally bound to provide you with a general price list, so you can be sure of the costs for each item you choose.
  • Before you pay the funeral director, you should receive a breakdown of everything you are purchasing. Make sure you receive this breakdown because you will want it for when you file a claim.
  • You have the right to also purchase a casket or urn from another entity and not from the funeral director or provider. Make sure you keep any other receipts so it can be added to the claim.

Your loved one died, and likely it was a tragic, unexpected death if you are filing a wrongful death claim. You owe it to yourself and the decedent to give a funeral you can all appreciate, just be sure to do it within limits and to keep any and all receipts.

If you have questions about funerals or anything else related to wrongful death actions, our personal injury lawyers can help you. At Ledge Law Firm, it is our passion to help each of our clients. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.