How Do I Choose A Funeral Provider?
There is no legal requirement to use a funeral home to plan or conduct a funeral. Until the second half of this century, most funerals took place at home and burials were without the use of professional undertakers. However, because most of us have little experience with the many details and legal requirements involved, the services of a professional funeral home may be a comfort.
How To Choose A Funeral Provider
It's easy to select a funeral home or cemetery because it's close to home, has served the family in the past, or has been recommended by someone they trust. However, people who limit their search to just one funeral home risk paying much more than necessary for the funeral or narrowing the available choice of goods and services.
Comparison shopping doesn't have to be difficult, especially if it's done before the need arises.
Look for a funeral provider that:
- Suits your needs. For instance, does it have enough seating capacity? Parking?
- Has good facilities for your loved ones.
- Retains privacy if there is more than one funeral at a time.
- Is licensed if required by your state. (You can find out at Funeral Service Examining Boards, http://www.theconferenceonline.org/students-req.shtml or tel.: 479.442.7076)
- Does not have complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau (Find your local Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org ).
How To Compare Prices Among Funeral Providers
You can compare prices and goods either in person, or by telephone. You can also compare services on the internet.
During the price comparison process, ask who owns the funeral homes that you contact. This probably seems odd, but many independent funeral homes were purchased by large conglomerates during the 1990s. In spite of the purchase, the homes kept their original name. One state investigation found that often consumers who thought that they were comparing prices between one or more funeral homes, were actually comparing the prices between homes owned by the same conglomerate.
- In person: If you visit a funeral home in person, the funeral provider is required by law (the federal Funeral Rule) to provide a written price list itemizing the cost of the various items and/or services that the home offers. If the general price list does not include specific prices of caskets and outer burial containers, the law requires the funeral director to show you the price lists for those items before actually showing you the items themselves. (See Legal Protections Under The Funeral Rule.)
- On the phone: You can comparison shop by phone if you feel this may be less stressful. .The federal Funeral Rule also requires funeral directors to provide price information over the phone to any caller who asks for it. Additionally, many funeral homes are happy to mail you their price lists, although they are not required to do so by law.
- On the internet: Funeral homes may have internet sites that at least describe the services provided. However, they may not include a price list. As noted above, you can get that information in person or by calling.
Prices are not set in stone. You can negotiate.
Just because a funeral home tells you their standard prices, that doesn't mean you have to pay what is being asked. Yes, you can negotiate price with a funeral home.
Think about what leverage you have. For instance, if you are a noted member of your community or part of a large family that traditionally uses the funeral home, the home would want your business.
Just mentioning that you are looking at other funeral homes may be enough to get a discount.