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The Rising Cost of Dying in Arkansas

It's a purchase many never want to think about making.
"...in today's society, they're not thinking ahead a lot on it," - Steve Ballard Roller Funeral Homes
LITTLE ROCK, AR - It's a purchase many never want to think about making.

But most of us will either have to plan our own funeral or that of a loved one at some point.

And the cost of dying has never been more expensive.

Steve Ballard with Roller Funeral Homes in Little Rock has been in the death care industry for over thirty years.

He says funeral preparation isn't something many of us spend a great deal of time contemplating.

"I'll tell you in today's society, they're not thinking ahead a lot on it," Ballard says.

Even those that do prepare for a burial or cremation have seen prices rise rapidly in recent years.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association the median cost of an adult funeral has nearly doubled in just over the last two decades.

The most recent survey conducted in 2012 puts the cost at $7,037. That is up from $3,742 in 1991.

Those costs do not include any costs associated with burial either. Most cemeteries in the state require what's called a vault liner. No one ever sees it, but the liner will often add an additional $1000 to $1500 to dying.

Ballard says public perception of funeral costs are also not congruent, especially when comparing burial and cremation.

"First thing people think about is direct cremation, no services, less expensive that type of thing," Ballard says. "Not necessarily so, that's our fault."

In addition to working in the funeral home business, Ballard also serves in a regulatory capacity on the Arkansas Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

He says there is one thing consumers should never have to think about when walking into a funeral home to plan arrangements.

"They need to know what the prices are at the very beginning. And need to have an opportunity to look at those," Ballard says. "The Federal Trade Commission, it's not good enough that it (General Price List) is laying there on the table in front of them, you've got to hand it to them."

If you don't know funeral home prices up front and they are not offered, consider it a red flag.

"You don't want them going in there looking at caskets for several minutes and then say oh by the way here's your price list," Ballard says. "That's a (FTC) violation."

Ballard says ultimately comes down to what the consumer wants and values in any funeral service.

"The service itself, there's value there. Tremendous value," Ballard says. "That's what we do. If we lose that. We're losing totally what we do as professionals."

A review of General Price List information for a variety of Arkansas funeral homes revealed a wide range of prices for both burial and cremation.

Despite the emotional difficulty associated with planning the remembrance for yourself or a loved one, advanced research could make the experience slightly less challenging.
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