How to Choose a Funeral Home

What to Know When Planning a Funeral

USA, Connecticut, North Haven, Funeral Viewing Room
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When you're trying to decide on a final resting place for yourself or a loved one who has passed, you may have a few different funeral, burial and aftercare options to choose from. These aren't the most pleasant decisions to make, but they're important and need to be made nonetheless. Here are several things to take into consideration if you're planning a funeral.

Selecting the Funeral Home

Funeral homes are chosen based on proximity to home.

Often times they've provided service to a family in the past or they've been recommended by a trusted friend. While these are useful ways to find a funeral home during times of distress, limiting the search to a single home might not work to your advantage.

In the funeral home industry, many neighborhood funeral homes are actually owned by larger corporations. If having a locally-owned funeral home is important to you, conduct your research accordingly. More and more people are planning their own funerals and designating their burial sites to relieve families from having to make all the decisions when the time comes. You might want a funeral home that offers a prepayment program.

Take time to do an actual search of all the nearby funeral homes. You might find a better selection of services and save money.

Comparison Shopping

Perhaps the best advice about how to find a funeral provider is to do some comparison shopping.

This can be especially helpful if the funeral is being planned in preparation for the future.

According to the Funeral Rule, if a potential customer asks about pricing over the phone or in person, the funeral provider must give them a price list with the costs of products and services offered. If you're just conducting pricing research, save yourself time and travel by calling the funeral home directly.

If you decide to visit in person, take a trusted friend along to ask questions and help you make decisions.

Some of the typical services and products associated with a traditional, full-service funeral home include:

  • Services fee for funeral director and staff
  • Pickup of body
  • Embalming and other preparation
  • Casket and coffin
  • Outer burial container (vault)
  • Visitation or viewing, including staff and facilities
  • Funeral or memorial service, including staff and facilities
  • Graveside service, including staff and equipment
  • Hearse and other vehicles
  • Financing

The Funeral Rule

The Federal Trade Commission enforces the funeral rule, which applies to both pre-need and at-need funeral arrangements. The funeral rule requires all funeral directors to give consumers accurate and itemized price information and disclosures about other services, whether the customer asks in person or over the phone.

Funeral homes offer different packages. When arranging a funeral, the customer has the right to purchase services individually if a package includes items they don't want.

The funeral's requirement for upfront pricing information and complete customization allows customers to pay for what they want without having to worry about hidden costs.

According to the Funeral Rule:

  • Consumers have the right to choose the funeral goods and services that they want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • If state or local law requires the consumer to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not charge a fee or refuse to handle a casket purchased elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

Comparing Costs

Picking a funeral home is only part of the puzzle. Once the funeral home is chosen, the funeral needs to be planned. Decisions like these often come down to cost. Here are all of your price considerations:

Disposition of the Remains:

  • Immediate burial
  • Immediate cremation (possible cremation fee)
  • Donate body to medical school or hospital

Traditional, Full-Service Burial or Cremation:

  • Fees for funeral director and staff
  • Pickup of body
  • Embalming and other preparation
  • Casket
  • Outer burial container (vault)
  • Visitation or viewing, including staff and facilities
  • Funeral or memorial service, including staff and facilities
  • Graveside service, including staff and equipment
  • Hearse and other vehicles

Other Services:

  • Forwarding body to another funeral home
  • Receiving body from another funeral home

Cemetery or Mausoleum Costs:

  • Cost of lot or crypt, if not already purchased
  • Perpetual care
  • Opening and closing the grave or crypt
  • Grave liner, if necessary
  • Marker or monument, headstone or gravestone, including setup

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