#TipsonTuesday: How to Choose a Funeral Home

Funeral services for veteranChoose a funeral home that provides your loved one,
or yourself, the honor your life deserves.
Photo by Sandu Antonescu)

Not all funeral services are the same. While it seems logical that all funeral parlors provide the same service, they also differentiate themselves by their reputation, cost and luxuries available. Funeral planning is one industry that everyone will have to use at some point in their lives. Because of the delicate situation of funeral arrangement, in addition to the intense emotions and grief surrounding death, choosing a funeral home can be difficult. When arranging a funeral many people will use a funeral service they have dealt with in the past, one that has been recommended to them, or one they have seen advertised over the years.

Funeral expenses can differ greatly. The average funeral costs between $7000 and $10,000, so choosing a funeral home is a decision that carries a lot of weight. Consider funeral costs that include renting the funeral home, casket prices, embalming, cost for funeral service, gravesite and burial service expenses, and the headstone.

Many people are interested in “green funerals,” which promote funeral services that are considerate to the environment. With embalming releasing toxic chemicals over time and cremation as a less expensive option, people around the world are choosing funeral arrangements that are environmentally-friendly. For example, in Italy, the cremation rate is only 10%. About 28% of all funerals in the US include cremation (varying from 10% in Mississippi to 67% in Washington), while Japan uses cremation in 95% of their funerals.

Funeral parlors are in business to make money, and they may direct customers to pricier options. You have the right to ask questions when planning a funeral for yourself or a loved one.

Everlasting Footprint wants to help everyone leave the legacy they want. From funeral services to lasting digital footprints, a person leaves memories that we all contribute to. To get the best options for funeral arrangements for you and your loved ones, consider some of the following:

Budgeting for Funeral Expenses

You may be able to save money by choosing funeral services at lower costs. Some funeral homes may not be as luxurious, but they provide the same options for funeral arrangements. You have the right to call and ask questions about their cost structure before visiting them.

Choosing Funeral Services You Really Need

Many people opt out of a burial service or choose not to have a viewing. Some people prefer a brief funeral service or none at all. Depending on your preference for a viewing, you may not need embalming services.

Plan Funeral Arrangements with Loved Ones

Because the time surrounding a death can be emotional, find out what your loved one wants for his or her funeral services beforehand. Even discuss what kind of casket. Planning a funeral with the person’s help allows you to avoid wrestling with decisions about these details later. Casket prices vary greatly depending on whether the casket is metal or hand-carved wood, and the different lining choices, which even might include pockets to place keepsakes in. When you are choosing a funeral home, you can ask to visit their display room to see the available caskets.

Be Realistic About Funeral Costs

If you have used more than one funeral parlor in the past, you will realize the wide differences in prices and available options. Choose funeral services based on what you are comfortable with, not necessarily the services recommended by the funeral planning service.

Know Funeral Laws

All funeral services must comply with the federal government’s Funeral Rule as well as state laws. One part of the Funeral Rule is that you have the right to buy a casket elsewhere, and the funeral home must agree to use it. Funeral parlors must provide you with prices in writing, and they must have lower funeral costs available for options such as a customer-provided casket or cremation. Funeral homes may not charge you any fee for a General Price List (GPL) with a phone or mail inquiry.

Green Funeral Options

Green funerals are increasing. Environmentally-friendly funeral options include degradable caskets and containers, as well as “green” cemeteries. A natural alternative to traditional burial sites, green cemeteries generally do not use concrete vaults, and may offer degradable caskets. Most green cemeteries (there are over 150 in the US) are all-natural, without showy headstones, and use native plants instead of manicured lawns.

The difficultly involved with arranging a funeral can be made smoother by knowing ahead of time what you want. Just as with any purchase, don’t be swayed in the moment into making an impulsive purchase. Sit down and think about the funeral services you’ll need, set a budget for funeral expenses, and relax, knowing you can live with your funeral planning decisions.

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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