Ever wonder why death is so expensive?

Anyone who’s had the pleasure of shopping for funeral services knows how expensive a funeral can be. Even a basic pine box seems to cost thousands of dollars. Now, I have a better understanding as to why. Last week, buried at the bottom of a press release on various management changes, funeral services giant Service Corp. International (SRV) noted that its vice chairman, B.D. Hunter, planned to step down, but would remain on as a consultant. What wasn’t included in the press release (but was in the 8-K the company filed on Tuesday) was just how much Hunter will be paid: $91,667 a month in exchange for devoting “substantially his full time to the business of the company” (whatever that means). He’ll collect that monthly stipend for the next three years, before the fee drops down to a measley $50K a month in February 2008. The contract runs through 2010 and has the ability to be extended through 2013. The company didn’t include Hunter’s actual contract in the filing, so it’s hard to know exactly what else is included — office space, secretarial help, etc — clearly he can’t be expected to answer his own phones for $91,667 a month. It’s also not clear from the company’s proxies just how much Hunter was making as vice chairman. But for years, vice chairman has often meant golfer-in-chief.