Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prepaid Funeral Plans....a Scam?

Just when you think you have heard it all, something comes along to surprise and disappoint you once again.

I have always felt that a lot of Funeral Directors take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable.  I try not to be judgmental, and to give people the benefit of the doubt, but once again my skepticism has again proven out.

I lost a dear friend in January.  She had purchased a prepaid program for her funeral/burial arrangements in 2003.  At that time she paid over $7,000 in cash which was given to the "insurance company" by the Funeral Home.  Now all that sounds okay.  She had listed exactly what she wanted, paid for the casket, vault, organist, minister, hair dresser, etc.  Everything was enumerated.

Or so we thought when I went with her in July to confirm everything would be covered.  We actually did not use an organist or a vocalist, we did not have a viewing prior to the funeral (all of her friends were too elderly/debilitated to attend two things), we did not use limos.  All that to say that in this Prepaid thing we used less than we had originally contracted for.  In fact, when we were there in July the lady actually told us we might get money back after expenses were paid.

Well, The funeral was January 13th, and I hadn't heard anything from the funeral home since the burial.  I called to find out why.  No bill, no statement.  I was told that the file had been "flagged" to wait for insurance from the beneficiaries because there was an additional $2,700 due!!!

I was shocked to say the least.  I asked what these charges could possibly be for, since I paid for the flowers, and we didn't even use the things we had originally contracted for.  I was told that the costs "had gone up" and that the original charges didn't include the "opening and closing" of the grave!  You have to be kidding!  How can you bury someone without opening and closing of the grave.  What is the point of a "prepaid" funeral if you are going to have to pay the "Current" charges?  What about the interest on the money given to the insurance company?  Didn't they actually invest that money so that it would grow (since 2003)?  And how much was actually paid to the funeral home by the insurance company?  All questions I was having trouble getting answers to.

I was referred to another individual who called me about half an hour later and said the charges would actually be "only" $550, since that was the cost of "opening and Closing" the grave and that had not been included in the original cost figures.  What a crock!  I said well, what about taking off the charges for all the things which you did not do?  He said he would talk to someone else and call me back.  About twenty minutes later he called and said now it would "only" be $325. 

Needless to say, after all of this I was sickened and wondered how many times these creeps took advantage of people in their most vulnerable time.  Many of the people who they take advantage of have had no business experience and are in the grieving process, and I am sure they fail to question why this happens.  Most of the time they are ELDERLY and were trying to make sure their loved ones did not have to bear the cost of their funeral/burial.  Little did they know!

I have always thought that the whole funeral business has been run by a bunch of money-grubbing individuals who take advantage of people during their time of grief.  Now that has been confirmed!
I am not sure how this will all actually play out, but I am not paying them another DIME until I see an itemized list, what the insurance company actually paid out, and what other funeral homes in the area charge for the same thing.

Please hear me...I think most of the pre-plan schemes out there are a way to take advantage of people, and I would advise you to put your money in an interest bearing account for the purpose of paying for your funeral.  You will probably be much safer.  Then at least you will know exactly what you have to work with.

God Bless....Peace, Love and Joy

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