Make informed decisions with insights from the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
Planning for your own disposition after death can spare your loved ones the anguish of making difficult decisions while grieving. Shopping ahead of time, getting correct information, and making arrangements now not only allows you to make informed decisions, but also may save you money.
As you make these important arrangements, keep these four tips from Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (CFB) in mind:
- Check the license—To be sure that the funeral establishment, funeral director, crematory, crematory manager, private or fraternal cemetery, and private or fraternal cemetery managers are licensed by the state and in good standing, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs Call Center at (800) 952-5210 or check the license online at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
- Compare prices and services—First, visit websites and several funeral establishments to compare services, restrictions, rules, and prices. Then, decide how much you want to spend. If you buy a casket from a retail casket seller, be sure to ask if the seller will deliver it or if you must pick it up. You may also wish to compare prices at several cemeteries and ask about their endowment care funds and cemetery maintenance standards. If a funeral establishment or cemetery is not being maintained to your satisfaction, take your business elsewhere.
- Stay organized—You may want to make your arrangements in advance but not prepay for them; however, keep in mind that, over time, prices may go up and businesses may close or change ownership. You may also move to another location or change your arrangements. It’s a good idea to review and revise your decision every few years, and you should make sure your family is aware of your wishes. Put your wishes in writing, give copies to family members and your attorney, and keep a copy in a place where it can be easily accessed. (Don’t keep your only copy in a safe-deposit box. Your family may have to make funeral arrangements on a weekend or holiday when the bank is closed.)
- Prepay if wished—If you decide to prepay for funeral and cemetery services, you have several options, including:
- Preneed trust contracts
- Pay-on-death accounts
- Life insurance
- Funeral insurance
These are prepayment options, not recommendations. Be sure to carefully compare the advantages and disadvantages of each—and consider consulting an attorney and Medicare/Medicaid, if applicable—before making any decision.
Be sure to discuss your wishes with your family. You may also want to talk to an attorney about the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed. And remember: Funeral establishments and licensed cemeteries must present to the person making funeral arrangements for a deceased person a copy of any preneed agreement in their possession that is signed and paid for in full or in part.
CFB’s “Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases” (also available in Spanish) offers many additional tips and insights to help you make your own arrangements or to assist a loved one. For more information and consumer resources, visit www.cfb.ca.gov.