Shoddy maintenance is another frequent problem. When you visit the cemetery, look for signs of deterioration. Consider whether you're buying one of the last plots. If so, the cemetery won't be bringing in new revenue for much longer and may face financial difficulties. Make sure your contract with the cemetery specifies the level of maintenance you can expect. Choose a cemetery with a perpetual care fund. The fund sets aside money for maintenance.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK:
1. If you choose to prepay for your own funeral, make sure your family knows. Leave instructions where your family can easily find them. Some families have paid twice for funeral services because they didn't realize their loved one had made arrangements.
2. Get itemized price lists from more than one funeral home and compare. Make sure the funeral homes are not owned by the same company. National chains now own many funeral homes, cutting down on competition.
3. Check the reputations of the funeral homes by contacting the Better Business Bureau and your county and state consumer protection offices.
4. Find out what's included in the funeral home's basic services fee.
5. Consider getting receipts for fees the funeral home will pay to third parties like florists, limousine companies and cemeteries, or pay these providers yourself.
6. Compare costs at different cemeteries.
7. Find out if the cemetery you're considering is required to be licensed and whether it is.
8. Check the cemetery's reputation with the BBB and county and state consumer protection offices.
9. Visit the cemetery and the specific gravesite before committing.
10. Sign a contract with the cemetery that specifies the price, where the plot is located and the level of maintenance.