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How To Choose A Funeral Home

Perhaps your loved one is nearing death and you must find a funeral home quickly. Or you have decided to pick a funeral home for yourself long before it’s needed, to spare your family the ordeal of making this decision while grieving and pressed for time.
If you have used a funeral home in the past, don’t automatically assume it’s the best choice. Without comparing prices and services, you can’t tell whether their fees are reasonable, or you’ve been overcharged generation after generation.
Use this step-by-step guide to help you find the best funeral home for you and your family. By learning how to choose wisely, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and improve your overall satisfaction with the services you receive.

1. Consult your family and decide on a budget
Have you and your family discussed a budget, and decided on an amount that’s affordable for you—that you’re willing and able to spend without hardship? Shopping for a funeral should be like making any major purchase—you know what you can afford before you start shopping. Don’t make the mistake of buying a funeral the way many people do—accepting the funeral home’s price then scrambling to find the money.
Ask your family some specific questions. Do they have preferences about the type of final arrangement? If you are planning for a loved one, did he or she leave any written instructions? Have arrangements at a certain funeral home already been prepaid, perhaps years ago? Be sure to look for any documents that will help in the decision-making process before going forward.

2. Learn about your funeral rights
Next, review your rights as a funeral consumer. Briefly, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule affirms your right to:

  • Get price information over the telephone
  • Receive a written, itemized price list when you visit
  • Buy only the goods and services you want
  • Choose not to have embalming
  • Use an alternative container instead of a casket for cremation
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn bought elsewhere without incurring additional fees
  • Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, but before you pay

3. Weigh your priorities
Ask yourself: How important is a convenient location? Do you prefer proximity to your home, place of worship, or cemetery? Is price a critical factor? How flexible is your budget? If you or your family used a funeral firm in the past, how satisfied were you? Do you have special religious or cultural requirements? If you want a viewing or service, will you need a large facility with ample parking, high-tech video screens, or handicap-accessibility? Or is simplicity your first priority?

If both price and location are important, remember that most funeral homes will travel 20 to 30 miles to pick up the deceased without any extra charges. If the funeral home will not be a gathering space for family, why choose the place closest to your home? Which is better—saving $1,000 or 15 minutes of driving time?

4. Choose the type of arrangement

  • You might donate your body to a medical school for research, which in some cases incurs no charge for survivors
  • Other very economical choices are “direct cremation” or “direct burial” with no embalming or visitation
  • You could consider a funeral service held at home
  • Green, or natural burial, in a shroud or simple box, can be very affordable and ecologically friendly
  • Perhaps you prefer a traditional earth burial with embalming, visitation and an elaborate funeral service

Whatever you decide, write down your wishes in detail. The arrangement choice is the biggest factor in helping you determine the best, and most reasonably-priced, funeral home for your needs.

5. Get a list and compare prices
First, check with your local Funeral Consumers Alliance to see if they have a survey of prices in your area. If so, check the range of costs for your chosen arrangement, and pick out some affordable funeral homes. You may find a huge price difference for the same option, so doing a cost comparison might save you several thousand dollars. Often those specializing in cremation offer the lowest prices for that service, but not always—be sure to double check.

If you can’t find a price survey, look online or in the phone book for funeral home listings. Call five or six and get their prices for your chosen arrangement; perhaps ask about casket and urn prices as well. If a particular funeral director seems uncooperative, cross him off your list. Do the costs fit within your budget? If not, you may have to consider a more affordable type of arrangement, look beyond your immediate area for lower prices, or eliminate extra expenses like embalming or visitation.

6. Narrow your choices
Keeping in mind your personal priorities, do further research. Visit the funeral homes’ websites. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for their experiences with any of your choices. You could also check online customer review sites, or ask your local Funeral Consumers Alliance if they have received any complaints about any of them. Then focus your attention on two or three of the most promising choices.

7. Visit several funeral homes
Make an appointment to visit those funeral homes if possible. Bring a list of questions and a friend or family member less emotionally invested in the funeral than you are. Ask the funeral home for their General Price List and have the director review it with you. You might want to see an array of urns or caskets, ask about their billing policy, or meet the staff. Do you like the facility? Does the funeral director seem helpful and trustworthy, and answer questions willingly? Is he or she sensitive to your values and cultural or religious needs? Don’t select a funeral provider unless you feel completely comfortable with the director and the premises.

8. Get quotes
At each funeral home, discuss your specific arrangement choices and ask for an itemized statement. It will list the goods and services you have chosen, the price of each item, and total cost. Do not sign anything yet. Take a copy of each statement home to review more carefully, then compare and discuss them with your family.

9. Make a decision
When you have thoroughly evaluated information from several funeral homes, choose the one you like best. If the funeral is imminent, call the funeral home to begin the arrangements. At this point, you could fill out the funeral home’s pre-need planning form and pay a deposit if required. But remember, never sign a contract for more than you or your family can afford to pay!
If you are prearranging your own funeral, do not be tempted to pay for it yet. Many states have inadequate safeguards to protect consumers’ prepayment funds, and your money could be at risk. Read FCA’s pamphlet “Should You Prepay Your Funeral” for further guidance.

10. Put your wishes in writing
If you are planning a funeral in advance of need, be sure to tell your loved ones about your decisions. Write down your specific instructions and funeral home choice. Give copies of your instructions to your family members or close friends, lawyer, and/or spiritual advisor. Do not put your written plans only in your Will or safe deposit box—they might not be found and read until too late—after your funeral is over.

53 Comments

Olivia Nelson

I appreciate your tip on deciding your budget before choosing a funeral home. I would imagine that discussing your budget would be an important step towards choosing the right one for you. I know that if one of my relatives were to pass away I would definitely have a good talk about finances before starting planning a funeral.

Frank Delaware

A friend of mine just had a death in his family, and he was telling me that they weren’t sure how to choose the right funeral home. I really like that you say to get quotes from a few different homes and compare them all. It would be nice to know that you are going to get the best price.

Jade Brunet

I like what was said about making appointments to visit a few funeral homes before selecting one. It is also good advise to bring a list of questions to ask the funeral director. Finding out if the funeral home allows children would be a good thing to do if you plan on having kids at the event.

LNWeaver

I like that tip to ask your family about what services they prefer. That way you can get a ballpark figure for how much the service will cost. Some people even set up pre-death plans so that the financial burden is lifted from the family.

Afton Jackson

The health of my grandmother has been declining recently. We want to make sure we’re prepared to give her a great memorial service, so we’re looking at different funeral homes. I never knew how important it is to look at several different locations to ensure the staff is friendly and helpful. I’ll be sure to share this info with my family.

Max

I like how you talked about being sure to check the prices for cremation services to be sure that they offer the lowest pricing. My grandmother wanted to be cremated, and since her recent death, I think that finding a cremation service would be the next step for us. I’m glad that you talked about looking at prices, and I’ll have to be sure that I do that while I’m looking for some good cremation services for her!

Taylor Hicken

My great-uncle just passed away, and my family is scrambling around trying to plan things. For my family, I’m sure that our biggest priority is the convenience of location. There are just a lot of older folks in my family, and they less we have to travel is better for them.

Finley Moreira

My wife is in charge of planning the funeral of a relative of hers, and I think this article has some good points. I like how you suggest she ought to visit a couple funeral homes and bring a list of questions to ask during the visit. I’m sure this would be the best way for her to ensure she is picking out the right funeral home for the memorial services.

Derek Dewitt

My wife and I are in charge of planning the funeral of a friend who has passed away recently but aren’t sure where to start. I like that you suggest visiting the funeral home in person to ensure you like the facility and its staff. In my opinion, the location is really important because we need people to find it easily and having it nearby gives us a lot more time to prepare. Thanks for the help!

Thomas Pindall

I have a friend who just lost a loved one, and is trying to find a funeral home that he can use for the viewing procession. It really helped when you said to visit several funeral homes and compare prices and location with each one to find one that’s the most convenient. Hopefully this should help my friend narrow down his choices for what funeral home he should choose that’s affordable, and in a convenient place to go to.

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Marcus Coons

Thank you for mentioning how you should consult with a funeral provider and get a written list of items you can get with your plan. It is important to remember that doing this can help you know what you are paying for and what is available to you. My dad passed away yesterday and we want to make sure we get the best funeral services we can, so I’m glad I found your post.

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Dan Moller

When I give my last breath, I would like my family to just mourn my passing and remember my life with them, and not squander around looking for a funeral home to put me in. Funeral costs would only continue to go up following certain statistics on the market so it is only prudent to have a budget planned when looking for a funeral home. When choosing a funeral home, I think it is a clever idea to ask the establishment on how their services are different than the rest. Not only will this show you which one could provide more for your money, you can also choose which ones have a better set of packages/services offered.

Gloria Durst

I agree that you would want to consider visiting a few different funeral homes. It would be good to consider this because it would help you find the best one. My family is looking for a cremation service for our grandma, so we’ll have to view a few different ones.

Marcus Coons

It helped a lot when you mentioned how the price and locations offered by a funeral home are important parts to consider. I understand that doing this can help you find a burial service that can provide the type of convenience you need and give your loved one a proper send off. We are looking for a good funeral home that can help us have the services my uncle deserves, so I’m glad I found your post.

Callum Palmer

It is important to follow the article’s advice and actually visit any of the funeral homes that you’re considering. After all, you need to see if it looks nice and if they have an openings for your loved one’s funeral. It might also help to ask if they can meet any specific religions accommodations or any traditional stuff like that.

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Kyle Wayne

Asking your family specific questions about their preferences is a great tip! My dad is looking to find funeral homes that will be appropriate for my grandpa’s funeral. I think I will talk to my dad about talking to his siblings to find the best one for their dad.

Hannah Neilson

Thanks for saying that you need to consider your budget when choosing a funeral home. I would be good to consider this because it would show their experience. My brother needs help finding a funeral home, so he’ll have to find someone who has a good budget.

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Hannah Neilson

You made a great point when you mentioned that proximity could be important when choosing a funeral home. Considering what kinds of things are important to you, such as price and location, would be an important step to make when choosing a funeral home. My aunt recently passed away, so when my family plans the funeral, we’ll have to remember to weigh our priorities, as you mention.

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Amanda Drew

My mom has recently passed away after going through a battle with cancer. We know that she’s in a better place now. I’m glad that you point out that you should bring a friend with you who is less emotionally invested when you visit funeral homes. Thanks for the article; it should help me find the right funeral home for my mom.

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Ashley Maxwell

Thanks for your tip to choose a funeral home that offers many different types of burial services. I appreciate your tip to choose a place that you should actually like the place you are looking into as well. My husband and I are planning his great-grandfather’s veteran memorial service and we are looking for funeral homes.

Hannah Neilson

I like your tip about checking several funeral homes when choosing one. It would be smart to consider this because it would ensure that they are going to be right for them. I’m looking for a funeral home to cremate me when I die, so I’ll have to consider a few different ones first.

Moira Blythe

Putting your wishes in writing for the funeral home, family, and lawyer is good advice. I have never thought to do this, but I am headed to my step-grandfather’s funeral tomorrow and this having had communication like this has made the process very smooth. Thanks for the advice!

Hannah Neilson

Thanks for the advice about checking with five or six funeral homes when considering the price. Getting a feel for how much different services charge would be really helpful as well. My husband and I are looking for a funeral service for his mom, so we’ll have to check with a few first.

Hannah Neilson

Thanks for the advice about considering a funeral home that is close by. It would be smart to consider this because it would make accessing it much easier. I’m looking for a funeral home, so I’ll have to find someone who is close by.

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Jordan

I’ve been looking to buy a home for a while now. I’m glad you talked about how you should get the arrangement straight. I’m going to have to look for a few good home options and see what we can buy!

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Elsa Anderson

My grandpa is very sick, and my mother is trying to find a funeral service to get everything in order beforehand. I like that you say to visit several funeral homes and bring a list of questions as well as try to meet the staff. This will help you get an idea if you are comfortable with the director as well as the home. Also, I agree that you should weigh your priorities and see if you want the funeral home to be close to your home, a church, or a cemetery and decide which is most important.

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Hannah Neilson

Thanks for the tip about considering if you want a funeral home to be close to your home, place of worship, or cemetery. Any one of these things would probably really help make planning a funeral much easier. My mom is getting older and starting to plan her funeral arrangements. When she decides to choose a funeral home, she’ll have to consider the convenience of the location as well.

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Watson Williams

I”m looking into pre-planning my funeral soon. I like how you mention that I should consult with my family and decide how much money to spend before deciding on a funeral home. I’ll be sure to do this since I don’t want to place any financial burden on my family when I pass on.

Hannah Neilson

Thanks for the tip about considering if a funeral service gives a written price list. It would make planning the funeral much easier if you get the costs in writing right off the bat. My sister is helping to plan our grandma’s funeral, so she’ll have to consider the price estimate first.

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