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Family forced to rely on crowdfunding to pay for loved one’s funeral

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The sudden death of a loved one can leave a family scrambling to find the money for a funeral.

More and more people in the Mid-South are now turning to fundraising websites for help including Danielle Jones' family.

"I asked the paramedics is he breathing? They said no he`s gone. I just lost it. I lost it," she said.

Her uncle, Lasper Smith Junior, likely died of a heart attack. He was just 58-years-old.

"Very unexpected. Very unexpected," she said.

Now in the midst of mourning, Jones and her family are struggling to find the money to pay for his funeral.

"Why is it so expensive? Why is everyone`s prices so high and so different?" she said.

Jones said it's going to cost $5,200 for a modest funeral and the plot at New Park Cemetery, where her entire family rests.

Her uncle didn't have life insurance.

"It's the bare minimum. I know he deserves more," she said

That $5,200 is below the median cost according to the National Funeral Director's Association.

In fact, they said the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $9,000 and funeral costs with cremation $6,000 to $7,000.

A hefty price tag that's been rising steadily since the 1980's.

News Channel 3 investigators looked into the steep prices in 2017.

We quoted 30 funeral homes.

WREG asked each funeral home for prices for the following:

  • Simple/Direct Cremation (Transporting body, completing paperwork, cremation, return of remains to family)
  • Simple/Immediate Burial (No embalming, price of casket not included)
  • Full Service Funeral (Service fee for typical funeral, price of casket not included)

Findings:

Simple/Direct Cremation

Least expensive-$745
Most expensive-$4790

Simple/Immediate Burial

Least expensive-$945
Most expensive-$6670

Full Service Funeral

Least expensive-$2,000
Most expensive-$8,000 (this was the average cost at this particular funeral home)

"I'm trying my best. My family is trying our best to lay him to rest and in a respectable way," said Jones.

She said now her family is trying to raise the funds as they set up a GoFundMe page.

"We just need help," she said with tears down her face.

Jones' page is just one of thousands of funeral campaigns we found the website.

Their media team told us they don't keep a running total, but that memorial and medical campaigns are the two most popular categories. They said more than funerals fall into the memorial campaign category.

Your Legal Rights

  • Funeral homes must provide price information over the phone when requested
  • Callers don't have to provide a name, or additional contact details
  • Funeral homes must provide a breakdown of services, called a "General Price List" when requested in person

Additional Recommendations from experts:

  • Don't ignore idea of death
  • Plan ahead
  • "Pre-plan, not pre-pay"
  • Set aside money in separate account for funeral expenses for yourself and loved ones
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