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Subject:  Funeral Business Date:  3/1/2009  3:11 PM
Author:  UnkaBob Number:  7866 of 8874

Early this year I had the unfortunate duty of arranging the funeral of my wife. I made arrangements through an undertaker that had handled three funerals in the family over the last ten years. My wife had arranged all of those funerals and my only input was organizing the finances. The cost has roughly doubled over the last ten years.
When the dust settled, the cost was just over eleven grand. My indulgences over the minimum probably amounted to six hundred dollars. Cemetery plots were purchased twenty years ago and are not part of that cost.

The undertaker was Digity Memorial which is owned by Service Corp. International of Dallas. They bought Alderwoods which was the restructured Lowen Group. Service Corp. only has one real competitor in Winnipeg and that is Arbour Memorial. If/when service Corp. buys Arbour, they will have a virtual lock on the business in Canada.

The undertaker provides basic services rolled into a package with a series of, in my opinion, high priced trinkets. Some of which were handy to me but most were not. One useful service (at a price) records the death with both Canadian credit agencies so that no accounts can be sought for the deceased. A step by step book would probably be adequate for most people but you can't charge enough for that.

The cemetery was Arbour Memorials. After hearing the description of the cemetery corporate business this morning on "Sunday Morning" I shouted right on! They charge an "overtime fee" of $254 for a Saturday funeral. The preferred day for funerals is Saturday and this seems even worse than the banks.When looking at headstones, it would appear (I haven't heard yet) that the cemetery must install the headstone for another significant fee.

In summary, funerals are expensive and when you have to make those decisions you are in a fog.

First thing is to have your will completed and have a copy in the executor's hands (not in a safety deposit box).

Do some preplanning and look at the cost. Prepaid plans may or may not make sense for you but at least think about it.

Direct cremation appears to be the least cost alternative but I still have't got my head around that one. Cremation and funeral around three grand.

Where will the remains be placed? Cemeteries can get expensive and have lots of incidental charges. Find out what they are. I still believe that those bronze markers will eventually be sold for scrap and melted down.

This may seem to be an overly pecuniary approach to funerals but this is the nut and bolt part which can make it a lot easier on those left behind if you have been over the numbers and know what to expect.

Bob
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