- Dealing with the death of a loved one is always stressful. For those family members tasked with making funeral arrangements and designing memorials, the stress of dealing with death can easily be compounded by the frustrations of making plans. Thankfully, today’s headstone manufacturers make it easier than ever to design and create unique memorials to commemorate the lives of those who have passed. Read on to find out what everyone needs to know before buying a headstone online before getting started.
Funeral Homes Are Required to Allow Outside Purchases
- Until recently, funeral homes had a monopoly on goods and services related to burial. As a result, the cost of headstones and other memorials has historically been exorbitantly high. Since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to require that funeral homes allow customers to purchase accessories, including headstones, from other companies, all that has changed.
- Today, loved ones are free to purchase high-quality headstones online. They may still find that they are encouraged by funeral homes to shop with them, but it’s no longer legal to require one-stop shopping to use their services. If a funeral home or cemetery claims the only option is to buy a headstone through their network, know that they are in violation of the law.
Buying Online Is Cheaper
- The reason buying headstones from funeral homes and cemeteries is so expensive is that these industry insiders provide one-stop shopping services to customers. They tout this service as being worth the extra money, but for many consumers, it’s not. No one wants to deal with hefty bills on top unavoidable grief.
- Buying gravestones online allows consumers access to the same high-quality products for less. When they work with a reputable designer, customers can expect the same options and the same level of service they would get at the funeral home.
Some Cemeteries Have Regulations
- Before placing an order, buyers should obtain a copy of the cemetery’s rules and regulations. Each cemetery is different, but cemeteries are legally required to provide written copies of their regulations, so just call and ask. Pass the information on to the headstone designer to avoid unnecessary complications once it’s finished.
Some cemeteries place restrictions on what materials can be used in the headstone. Most allow, at a minimum, granite stones, and bronze markers, so those are almost always a safe bet.
There may be multiple restrictions to work around, which can include:
- Minimum and maximum sizes
- Required emblems or engravings
- Restrictions on photographs
- Types of edges
It’s always better to find out about these restrictions and stipulations in advance than it is to wait until the headstone has already been delivered and create unnecessary delays. A reputable online supplier will be happy to work with customers to find a design that meets both the cemetery’s regulations and the customer’s unique wishes.
Setting Fees Must Be Paid Before Delivery
- Most cemeteries only allow their own workers to set headstones. This ensures a uniform appearance throughout the cemetery and helps them avoid potential legal issues. Consumers who want to buy headstones online will need to pay their setting fees in full before delivery and may need to provide a copy of the receipt when the grave marker arrives.
There May Be Forms to Fill Out
- Some cemeteries require additional forms to be filled out before the headstone can be delivered. These may include marker authorizations, setting forms, photo release forms, and more. If they’re not filled out properly, the cemetery can refuse to accept the delivery of the memorial. Some online suppliers will help customers fill out these forms, though, which can make things a little easier.
It’s Important to Do Some Research
- Not all online retailers are reputable, so it’s important for consumers to do a little research. Check the company’s website, look for reviews on a third-party site, and search the Better Business Bureau for consumer complaints. It’s also wise to call and speak with a representative in advance to evaluate communication techniques and response times. The headstone design process will require a good deal of communication, so it’s important to work with a company that prioritizes customer service.
The Bottom Line
Buying online may require slightly more work, but it’s worth taking the extra time. Funeral homes and cemeteries charge exorbitant prices for their memorials. Online markets are more competitive, so customers can get the same high-quality headstones and grave markers for much less.