Catherine, a CHOICE member from NSW, paid about $10,000 for her mother’s burial in May 2009. “The total amount was close to what was estimated, but we were obviously quite distraught when going through the planning and we didn't take in all the details,” Catherine told CHOICE. “I'm sure they never mentioned a contribution to the priest, but we were billed $250 for this and we had already paid the priest directly.” The funeral home also took out a death notice in the newspapers, but in colour and including the name of their business, which her family also doesn’t remember agreeing to. “I asked for a receipt but never got one. I think there should be third-party receipts issued for these items.”
Last year, CHOICE member Sheila, from WA, paid $9200 for her mother’s funeral (including a $4000 professional fee), which she believes was overpriced for the services received. “It was a lovely, tasteful funeral, but the things that made it nice were the environment and our choice of music, although seating and a marquee helped. The overall price of $9200 was exorbitant for such a small, simple funeral for 15 people. We also used our own transport and organised our own after-service refreshments.”
There are many funeral finance product plans that claim to help you secure payments for a funeral. Before committing to one, you should always compare it with putting your money in a savings account instead.
Pre-paid funerals involve making funeral arrangements now and paying for it at current prices. The money is usually held by a financial institution independently of the funeral company and registered with your state’s fair trading office.
Funeral insurance involves small, regular contributions for a specified cash payment on death. However, the premiums you pay over the years cannot be refunded if you decide to cancel the insurance. Age and health restrictions may apply when taking out the policy. The premiums may also increase over the years to keep up with inflation or other factors.
Funeral bonds are similar to bank fixed deposits. Your money is held as a bond and accrues annual interest. The principal amount can’t be withdrawn early and is paid when the funeral is required.