BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s something most people never think about until a loved one dies; funeral costs.
But it pays to shop around if you can.
“The price of a casket does not cost that much money” said Ted Bieniek, who has spent years comparing the prices among local funeral homes.
Bieniek is President of the Greater Buffalo Memorial Society, a non profit funeral consumer group who says while the National average cost of a funeral these days may be $7,000, it’s possible to do it for much less.
“Well, there are 175 funeral homes in western New York, and I think we only need about 25,” he said.
Cremation has become the choice for more than half of those who die, according to Bieniek.
“Let’s say they’re less afraid about death, it’s a more transient society. People aren’t purchasing graves like they used to and they’ve redefined their priorities. They’re spending less for funerals and more for living expenses,” Bieniek said.
But take a look at the differences in price listed for direct cremation among local funeral homes:
- DIRECT CREMATION COSTS:
- Brian Lewis Funeral Home — $475
- Harry Wedekindt — $550
- John Roberts Funeral Home — $550
- Kevin Mason Funeral Home — $565
- Norman Gannon & Sons — $1,695
- Migliore Funeral Home — $1,895
- Amigone Funeral Home — $1,945
- Hamp Funeral Home — $1,984
- Charles Meyer Funeral Home — $2,0750
- Perna, Dengler, Roberts — $2,585
“Four times the price for the same service.even though direct cremation means direct cremation,” said Bieniek.
Kevin Mason Funeral Home in Kaistertown was one of the cheapest at $565 for direct cremation.
“We obtain the death certificate, file it, get the permit that we need to go to the crematory and transport to the crematory,” Mason said.
New York State requires families to go through a funeral home, even if they don’t have a visitation there.
“Now it’s becoming more popular where people will do something at their home, have an open house where they will go to a park or favorite location of the deceased,” said Mason.
Yet some funeral homes are charging over $2,500 to be the middle man between the family and a crematory itself, which the family pays an additional $300 for.
“It’s not as simple as it sounds sometimes,” said John Dengler, Director of Dengler, Perna, Roberts Funeral Homes.
He points out that you only get one chance to say goodbye to a loved one, and many clients come in thinking cremation is all they want, but see the unique ways to remember a loved one, and often want a visitation after all.
“There’s not many facilities like this in western new York that can accommodate a lot of people in one room, good parking, I mean those things cost money,” Dengler said.
As for smaller funeral homes, like Mason’s, he feels the consumer isn’t getting anything different from the larger funeral homes. People are cremated in a simple cardboard box that can cost as little as $20. Embalming is not required at all in New York State, even for burial.
So as awkward as it may seem, it pays to shop around, especially if a direct cremation is all you’re planning. Plus, if you become a member of the Greater Buffalo Memorial Society for a one time fee of $25, they can help you find discounts. So an entire cremation can be done for a total of $720 for members of the Greater Buffalo Memorial Society.
You can reach the Greater Buffalo memorial Society by calling (716) 837-8636, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org