CLEVELAND - It's a choice many of us don't want to think about: setting up a pre-paid funeral.
But it's a decision that can save our surviving loved ones an additional burden, during what is sure to be one of the toughest times in their lives.
Mark Busch, owner of Busch Funeral homes in northeast Ohio, believes there are many safe ways to set up a pre-paid funeral, and ensure a families funds are safe.
"Sixty-five percent of the population thinks pre-arraignment is a good idea, yet only 35 percent of the population is actually doing something," said Busch.
"The problems that have occurred with prearrangement and the money that has gone missing as of late is a result of the money not being deposited to the funeral director to the funding institution. That's where the loophole is."
Busch pointed to a couple of northeast Ohio companies that are under investigation for allegedly misusing pre-paid funeral funds.
Louis Ripepi Junior, owner of Ripepi Funeral home in Parma, told NewsChannel5 consumers should ask a few key questions when setting up a pre-arranged funeral.
"Where is this money going? Is it going into an insurance policy, is it going into a trust account?" said Ripepi.
"They should get a receipt from the funeral home immediately, and then within 30 days another document from the insurance company or the trust company stating that the these funds are deposited."
Jim Milano, owner of Cleveland's Milano Monuments believes reputation and family references are critical when choosing a reputable company.
"Our family has been in business for over 50 years. We're not going anywhere, and it's been built on relationships," said Milano. "With that said, whatever the family wants, we'll do."
Larry Conti, owner of Akron's North Hill Marble and Granite explained independent certifications like Rock of Ages ensures consumers are dealing stable companies.
"If we don't keep up to their standards we lose our franchise," explained Conti. "It's not a franchise that if you have enough money you can buy. It's awarded to what they feel is the best, the most reputable company in the area."
Consumers should carefully review all pre-paid funeral contracts; some services may be guaranteed while others are not. Either way, make sure you get all services in writing on the agreement.
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