There are two general situations in which you may find yourself seeking the services of a funeral home. First, you may have made the decision to do your own advanced planning for your funeral. Second, you may have lost a family member and need to make funeral arrangements. In either situation, there are a number of factors and strategies you will want to consider when it comes to choosing a funeral home.
Know Your Funeral Rights
The reality is that most people simply do not know that they have some very specific rights when it comes to planning a funeral and engaging the services of a funeral home. Before embarking on finding a funeral home, you need to have a basic understanding of these rights.
Your rights large are governed by what is known as Funeral Rules established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Primary elements of the Funeral Rules are:
- You have the right to obtain accurate, thorough price information over the phone.
- You’re the right to receive a written, fully itemized price list when you visit a funeral home.
- You have the ability to purchase only those goods and services you desire.
- In California (and all other states) embalming is not always required. Indeed, in California, it rarely is required.
- You have the right to select an alternative container other than a casket for cremation.
- You can purchase a casket or urn from a third-party and a funeral home must accept and use it without charging you an additional fee.
- You’re entitled to a fully itemized written statement regarding what all goods and services will cost before you make any payment whatsoever.
Consult With Family and Friends
Undoubtedly, you’ve family, friends, and other colleagues that have either pre-planned their own funerals or planned funerals for loved ones. One of your most important resources when choosing a funeral home are those people in your life who’ve planned a funeral previously.
The key to discussing funeral home options with people you trust is that you are not only likely to get favorable recommendations about particular businesses, but you are also likely to receive info about funeral homes to avoid. As is the case with any type of business, there are funeral homes that distinguish themselves for outstanding service – and others that do not.
Develop a list of recommendations from your discussion with friends, family, and colleagues. You might want to consider using a list of recommendations as a starting point in your own search for a funeral home that will best meet your needs.
Establish a Budget
The one factor that you must bear in mind is that you are in control over what you spend when it comes to pre-planning your funeral or planning the funeral of a loved one. You do not have to settle in purchasing pricy packages pushed by funeral homes.
A key to making sure you keep the cost of a funeral within your comfort range is to establish a budget in advance of visiting specific prospective funeral homes. Again, you are able to obtain basic price information from funeral homes before you physically visit any of them. Thus, you will have the raw data you need to develop a budget. In addition, you can obtain helpful information, including data to create a budget, from the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
Preferences of a Loved One
You certainly will want to do your best to honor any preferences a deceased loved one may have had for his or her funeral. Unfortunately, a good number of people fail to delineate their preferences in advance of their deaths. This information might be contained in a last will and testament or in a separate document prepared by a loved one before dying.
If no such document exists, it becomes incumbent upon you to consider what you believe your family member or other loved one would have desired when it comes to funeral planning. In this regard, visiting with other family members and friends can provide insightfully.
Make Decisions Regarding Preparation
As referenced a moment ago, despite the broad misconception that embalming is always required, the opposite is the truth. Thus, you need to give serious thought as to what you would like to see done in the way of body preparation.
If cremation is desired, embalming certainly isn’t necessary. The one caveat would be if the viewing of the body or an open casket funeral is going to occur and that event might be several days (or more) down the road. Embalming can prove to a practical undertaking in that type of situation.
You will want to visit with a funeral home to ascertain what they are willing to do in the way of body preparation alternatives. Some funeral homes are more willing to undertake what might be classified as alternative arrangements when it comes to body preparation and related matters.
Compare Prices From Different Funeral Homes
Pursuant to the Funeral Rule discussed a moment ago, you should be able to arm yourself with basic price information from different funeral homes. This provides you the ability to make educated price comparisons between different funeral homes in your area.
In the final analysis, when it comes to pricing of goods and services when selecting a funeral home, the business offering the cheapest prices is not necessarily the wisest selection. Similarly, the funeral home with the highest price points is always the one with the best goods and services.
More often than not a funeral home with moderate but fair pricing will prove to be the one that has struck a balance between quality products and reliable services and reasonable pricing.
Visit Funeral Homes
Once you narrow this list to a few funeral homes, you will want to take the time to visit with them and to meet with a funeral director. You definitely have the time and opportunity to visit funeral homes is you are involved in pre-planning.
If you are planning a funeral for a loved one, you may feel a bit more pressed for time. Nonetheless, you should strive to thoroughly investigate more than one option and to try and set forth the time to visit more than one funeral home in person.
The Final Decision
By undertaking the course of the due diligence outlined for you in this article, you will be in the best possible position to make an educated final decision regarding the selection of a funeral home for a loved one’s needs or as part of your own pre-planning endeavors. You will be confident in making a final decision that fits into your budget and that ensures that all elements associated with a funeral are satisfied in the desired manner.