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Burlington Family Surprised With a Bill for a Pre-Paid Funeral

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Lawrence Keller of Burlington said his parents Frederick and Helen Keller prepared well for their final resting place, but the family received a surprise bill after discovering the headstone engraving for their mother was not included in the pre-paid funeral package.

“It’s always tough to see a parent decline,” said Lawrence Keller. 

A debilitating condition took the lives of Frederick and Helen Keller. They died years apart. 

Keller said his parents pre-paid for their funeral arrangements decades ago so the family won’t have to carry that burden. 

“That was just typical of my mom and dad,” said Keller. 

The process went smoothly until the family learned Helen’s headstone engraving wasn’t covered. 

Keller showed NBC Connecticut Responds a copy of the $250 bill paid by the family to get it done.  The family didn’t dispute the charge and paid what they owed to the funeral home.

But that engraving didn’t happen quickly. 

“Unfortunately, I just simply got a variety of excuses,” said Lawrence. “Weather conditions or being too cold outside or a staff member at the funeral parlor doing this no longer employed there.”

Keller’s persistence paid off. After going back and forth with the funeral home for two years, the issue was finally resolved. 

Experts encourage families to keep copies of pre-paid funeral agreements.

“Family members are thinking it’s an automatic part of the funeral process or they think it’s automatic process of purchasing graves at the cemetery,” said Edward Sheehy, Jr., president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. 

Sheehy stresses that families need to know what they’re paying for, such as:

  • Flowers
  • Engraving
  • Death certificates
  • Clergy
  • Obituary costs

Sheehy told NBC Connecticut Responds that funeral homes should be providing annual itemized statements.

“If the funeral home went out of business that money is sitting in that escrow account in their name and social security number so it is protected,” said Sheehy.

He pointed out that pre-paid funerals can be a good option for people wanting to plan. 

Out of the 300 funerals Sheehy’s performed yearly, he said nearly half of them were pre-paid. 

The Federal Trade Commission requires funeral directors to give family members itemized statements in exchange for funds.  

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