5 things you should know before choosing a funeral home

4 min read

After someone close to you dies, one of the first things you’ll have to do is choose a funeral home.

You may think they are all the same, but there are many factors to consider and questions to ask before you pick the place that will support and guide your family through the ceremony, the burial or cremation, and more.

It can be challenging to make a clear-headed choice right now, when your loss is so fresh, but knowing what to look for when deciding on a funeral home will make the process less stressful.

You may be tempted to pick the first place you find in a Google search. But remember, funerals are expensive and emotional. It’s worth it to take a beat, and a deep breath, and consider your options more carefully.

You’ll want to work with funeral staff that is professional and well-prepared, sensitive to your family’s feelings and needs, and honest and straightforward about their prices and services.

Keep these things in mind before choosing a funeral home, to make sure you end up with a ceremony that meets your family’s needs.

Decide on your funeral budget and stick to it

Funerals, burials, and other memorial ceremonies can range widely in price, but they’re generally not cheap. In fact, the average price of a funeral in the U.S. is nearly $10,000.

Your loved one may have earmarked money specifically for their funeral, in which case you have your budget set. Even if they didn’t, funeral expenses can be reimbursed from your loved one’s estate. But this will take some time, and it will diminish the amount you or any other heirs or beneficiaries will inherit.

If their estate does not have enough funds to cover the funeral, then whoever signs the funeral home’s paperwork is responsible for the costs.

As much as you love the person who has passed away, they wouldn’t have wanted you to break the bank on their funeral. So do a bit of research on average costs, come up with a figure, and then keep as close to it as you can, even if the funeral director starts suggesting more expensive options and add-ons.

Familiarize yourself with the FTC’s Funeral Rule

Particularly if you’ve never planned a funeral before, it’s a good idea to read the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule before walking into any funeral home.

This law lays out your rights as a consumer. Knowing them ahead of time can save you from overspending on items you can get elsewhere for a lower price, or being convinced to take options you don’t need.

For example, a funeral home might try to lock you into a package deal, or insist that items like caskets and floral arrangements must be purchased through them. These are in fact violations of your rights—and funeral homes know this.

Feel free to shop around

Don’t be shy about searching for the right funeral at the right price. As the FTC asserts, anyone looking to plan a funeral is legally entitled to get pricing information over the phone and be given an itemized price list when they first visit a funeral home.

If your loved one died in an area where there are multiple funeral homes, it’s worth your time to compare prices. That way, you can make an informed decision rather than feeling pressured to commit to the funeral home you happen to be in at the moment.

Have the arrangements you want in mind

Will you be burying your loved one or having them cremated? Do you want an environmentally friendly burial or casket? Do you have specific cultural and/or religious needs? Will the ceremony be traditional, or will you incorporate less usual elements?

Consider these questions before you start looking for a funeral home. Not every funeral home is able to accommodate every request or provide every option, so you want to make sure that the home you work with will be able to provide you with exactly what you want for your loved one’s final ceremony.

Make sure you feel personally supported

A funeral isn’t just a major expenditure; it is an important way to honor your loved one and the life they lived. And it brings your family and friends together to mourn, and start healing.

You don’t want to get financially involved with a funeral home, only to realize the people working there aren’t being sensitive to your needs. Pay attention to how attentive and compassionate they are when you visit. If you are uncomfortable with the way you are treated in any way, listen to your instincts.

Even before you visit, you can get a good sense of how supportive the funeral home staff is. Yelp and Google reviews can lead you in the right direction. While you may not find a place that left every customer 100% satisfied with their services, you still want to see far more positive reviews than bad ones when it comes to your search. Funerals are difficult enough as it is; the last thing you need is a funeral director and their team who are not respecting your grief ●