Choosing a Funeral Home

Choosing a funeral home is a decision that many families face at some point -- for their own pre-arrangements or on behalf of deceased family members. It can be a very emotional process because choosing a funeral home often provides the final closure for those left behind. When loved ones are in a state of shock and grieving, the task can become even more challenging.

To save heartache and headache, and to make more financially sound vs. emotionally driven decisions, it is smart to learn about processes and options before you or your family actually needs to research and choose a funeral home. Armed with the right knowledge, the experience can be actually be a positive one.

Laws That Protect Consumers

The funeral home industry is highly regulated by federal, state, and local laws in order to keep consumers safe. Overall, consumers are protected by The Funeral Rule -- which is enforced by the FTC. It requires, among other things, that providers clearly itemize prices. They must also furnish written price lists to customers inquiring about services in person or over the phone.

Many providers offer package deals, but it is important to note that you have the right to buy individual services. When choosing a provider, request an itemized list and choose the individual services that you need.

Before You Arrive At The Funeral Home

1) Check to see whether pre-arrangements were made. Many people pay for services in advance. This takes the burden off of families and will potentially make planning the funeral easier. If you are researching options for a loved one and arrangements have already been made, all you need to do is follow through.

2) Get everything in writing. Make sure that the home you select gives a detailed and itemized list of their services and costs in writing. This way there will be no surprises when it comes to payment.

3) Make sure the provider is sympathetic to your needs. Make sure the provider is professional, caring and sympathetic. Sometimes choosing the right home is as easy as going with your gut.

The Bottom Line: Money

In order to avoid costly financial surprises, it is important to find out ahead of time what the basic fees are going to be. Expect additional costs such as transporting remains, embalming, and viewings. Consumers are usually required to pay in advance for third party services such as flowers, obituaries, and musicians. All extra fees must be disclosed in writing or come with good faith estimates. You are not required to purchase a casket from the funeral home where you are holding the service. Funeral homes cannot refuse to handle or charge extra fees for caskets purchased elsewhere.

Doing thorough research ahead of time will ease the burden of choosing a funeral home when the time comes. Tracking costs, comparing services, and planning ahead can help to ease the stress and heartache of this already emotional event.

29 Dec 2009

By Funeral Home Resource Team