The purpose of the funeral -- which can be as conventional or unconventional as you prefer -- is to allow your survivors a time and place to grieve your loss. Arranging your funeral should be done with the same care and consideration that you use when writing a will, planning a wedding, or buying a home.
Making funeral arrangements in advance may lessen survivors' burdens at a difficult time and will help to ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you or a parent is trying to spend down assets to qualify for Medicaid, prepaying for a funeral can also be a smart move because dollars put toward funeral expenses aren't counted as part of your net worth.
Before making any decisions about funeral arrangements:
Be an informed consumer. Be familiar with state laws and the rights afforded to you by the FTC Funeral Rule.
Get a written general price list that you can keep, itemizing the range of costs of the goods and services offered there. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions.
Avoid the burden of making decisions while under emotional stress by organizing details with your Funeral Director ahead of time. Preplanning doesn’t necessarily mean prepaying.
Contact at least three (3) funeral establishments in your area to compare costs, services, and personal styles before making a final hiring decision. General price lists should be freely available to compare prices and offerings.
The Colorado Funeral Directors Association web site provides a directory of funeral establishment members to use as a reference. CFDA members subscribe to a code of ethics and pledge to uphold local, state and federal laws related to funeral service.
Make sure that the funeral establishment and/or crematory you select is registered with the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). DORA requires registration for each calendar year and status and disciplinary actions can also verified online.
Establishments that "sell or offer to sell" advance funeral plans must be licensed as a Preneed Contract Seller by the Colorado's Division of Insurance. If your funeral plans are to be paid through an insurance policy, an Insurance Producer license is also required for the individual who sells your policy. Read about Colorado laws that pertain to funeral service.
Colorado laws are intended to protect consumers from fraudulent practices; you can report complaints to DORA or get assistance from the Colorado Funeral Service Board.
Ask whether your funeral director is certified by the Colorado Funeral Service Board and ask to see this year's certificate. CFSB certifications are issued annually; make sure your funeral director is maintaining professional standards by keeping their certification active.
It can also be helpful to bring along a reliable friend or family member when you visit each funeral establishment.
The funeral business has evolved from brick-and-mortar funeral establishments, to store-front shops in retail centers and funeral brokers that subcontract handling and arrangements to other funeral establishments.
Here are a few questions to ask:
Does the funeral establishment have a physical location, i.e., its own building, a retail unit or an office suite, etc.?
What services are handled on the establishment's premises, such as funeral arrangements, embalming, cremation?
Where are embalming and restorative services handled and who is performing them? Many funeral establishments operate a care center in a separate location or outsource these services to a third-party provider. Does the establishment own and operate its own crematory, or is cremation handled at a third-party crematory?
What services are handled directly by employees of the funeral establishment? What services are outsourced to other providers? Transport, embalming and cremation are often handled by third-party providers.
Request a contact list of all third-party providers; Colorado law requires that outside providers must be disclosed when you contract for funeral goods and services.
The information provided here is intended to assist, however it is not to be considered legal advice nor is it to be considered absolute. If you have questions about legal issues, consult your attorney
Thinking about your own funeral leaves most people feeling a little uneasy, but more adults are finding that preplanning a funeral offers great emotional and even financial security for them and their families.
With preplanning, families find comfort in knowing that the funeral reflects what their loved one wanted. It also gives them peace of mind to not have to make important decisions at a stressful time.
If you are considering prearranging a funeral, talk with a Funeral Director in your community to walk you through the prearrangement process.
Be sure to keep a copy of any plans and any pertinent paperwork in a safe place. Also, inform a close friend or relative what arrangements have been made and where the information may be found.
If you choose, there are several ways to prepay for your funeral that can offer you financial benefits. Prepaying is not required, but an option that many individuals find helpful.
Preplanning is simply creating a plan or an outline of your final arrangements. Your funeral director can provide an estimate of costs for funeral or cremation services, a casket or urn, burial, or other options.
Preplanning does NOT include an agreement for payment in advance. Preneed is an agreement or contract with a funeral establishment to provide advance funeral arrangements, products or services in exchange for compensation, at either a guaranteed or non-guaranteed price.
If your funeral director asks for payment through deposit, installments or insurance policy to pay for advance funeral arrangements, this is considered a Preneed Contract and the funeral establishment must be licensed as a "Preneed Contract Seller" with the Colorado Division of Insurance.
Also, the funeral director selling an insurance policy must be licensed as an Insurance Agent through the Colorado Division of Insurance.
Be sure to ask for license verification before contracting for any funeral arrangements.
Consumers may file complaints in two ways:
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) will address written complaints about funeral establishments and crematories. An investigation and disciplinary action may be administered by DORA.
The Colorado Funeral Service Board may also assist consumers in resolving complaints through mediation without disciplinary action.
- A Guide to Funeral Service in Colorado
- Death Notification Checklist
- Department of Regulatory Agencies - Funeral Establishment and Crematory Registration
- Department of Regulatory Agencies - Division of Insurance
- File a complaint with the Colorado Funeral Service Board