MONROE, Maine (NEWSCENTER)--At some point we all have to face the tough decision of what we want to happen to us after we die.
Funeral consumer advocates say that pre-planning for your death, or the death of a loved one, is extremely important. But it's not always a comfortable conversation to have.
Alison Rector, President of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine, says the first step is for someone in your family to initiate the conversation.
"I think there can be relief when somebody initiates the conversation," Rector said.
Once the conversation is initiated, what else should you know?
Rector says most people may not know that there are federal and state laws meant to protect them from being taken advantage of by funeral homes.
For one, the Federal Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to hand you a general price list of all items and services they offer when you stop in. They also have to give you prices when you ask for them over the phone.
You're also allowed to provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere or make at home. They can't turn you away if you find one that is cheaper outside of their funeral home.
If you're looking to bury or cremate your loved one within a day or two of their death, you may want to know that embalming is not required in the state of Maine.
And if you're looking to keep costs low, you can always go with direct cremation, without holding a viewing ceremony. It could save you money.
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Rector also suggests not to prepay a funeral home for funeral services, during the pre-planning phase. She says anything can happen, like the funeral home closing. Instead, she says to pre-plan through the funeral home, but put the money into a savings account that your family will have access to.
In this age of digital information, you may also want to let family members know how they can gain access to certain online accounts after you die. Rector says you can keep an encrypted flash drive with your personal information that can be accessed when you are no longer here.
For more information on how to best prepare for your funeral visit the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine's website.
There you can find a survey of prices for different funeral services at funeral homes in Maine.