Watch Out For Funeral And Burial Scams
Seniors are a favorite target of scammers, who hope to cheat and swindle you out of your hard-earned money. As a result, there are many scams that target seniors, including financial, health care, and pet scams.
But scams involving funeral and burial expenses are on the upswing. These scams often target people who are in a vulnerable emotional state after the death of a loved one. Watch out for the following scams and take common-sense precautions to protect yourself and your finances.
Avoid Paying for Unnecessary Extras
Several federal laws regulate the funeral industry across the country. In particular, these laws strive to protect consumers from nursing homes that sell unnecessary services or add-ons that only inflate the bill. In particular, federal law requires that any funeral home you contact provide you with a detailed price list for:
- All goods and services offered
- Grave liners and outer burial containers
If the funeral home does not give you these lists after asking for them, they are violating federal law and you should probably take your business elsewhere.
Furthermore, federal regulations prohibit funeral homes from requiring that you pay for services that are optional or from insisting that you buy the casket directly from them. Remember, according to Florida law, you do not need to pay for a casket if your loved one will be cremated. According to AARP, about 25% of funeral homes violate these rules in some way, so be on guard.
To protect yourself, check whether the funeral home is licensed by the state by calling toll-free 800-323-2627. If you are dealing with an out-of-state funeral home, then you should contact the regulatory agency in that state that oversees funeral homes. Working with a licensed funeral home provides some assurance that the business is legitimate.
Consider Pre-Paid Services Carefully
Increasingly, people are paying their funeral and burial expense ahead of time. This is often a good strategy, since your survivors will probably be in an emotionally-fragile place soon after your death. Furthermore, paying ahead of time gives you the power to pick the funeral and burial services you want.
However, many prepaid services are fraudulent. They take your money, spend it, and are nowhere to be found when you die. To protect yourself, thoroughly research the company, searching online and at websites such as the Better Business Bureau. Look for complaints. Also carefully read all of your contracts and ask where the business puts the funds. For example, do they hold them in escrow so that they will be available when you die? If not, the business might take your funds and run off with them.
File a Complaint
If you think you have been scammed, you can file a complaint against a cemetery or nursing home with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services by calling 800-323-2627. Alternately, you can complain to the state’s Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NOSCAM or by visiting their website.
Ask an Estate Planning Attorney in Florida Your Questions Today
Proper funeral and burial planning is an essential part of any estate plan. If you need help drafting an effect plan, please contact an estate planning attorney with Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages today. You can call 800-743-9732 or submit an online message.