Depending on how much energy you want to invest in comparing funeral homes, you can visit or speak on the phone with multiple funeral homes and funeral directors to can get a better sense of each funeral home’s style, service offerings, and prices. You can also have someone else make these calls or visits with you or on your behalf. When visiting a funeral home, be aware of the following features:
- Does the funeral home have the type of facilities you'd like?
- If you'd like to have the funeral service at the funeral home’s chapel, can the chapel accommodate the number of people you expect will attend?
- If you expect elderly or disabled to attend the funeral, is the funeral home accessible to people with walkers or in wheelchairs?
- Does the funeral home look clean, well maintained, and otherwise presentable?
Goods And Services
- Does the funeral home offer the goods and/or services that you’re interested in purchasing?
- Does the funeral home offer a selection of products that includes items you’re interested in?
- If not, are they willing to help you find the products you’d like?
- If you’re interested in bringing in your own products from another vendor, does the funeral director seem amenable to this idea? (Legally, it is your right to purchase products elsewhere and use them at the funeral home for no additional charge.)
- Does the funeral home offer the services you’re interested in? For example, if you’re not interested in embalming, does the funeral home offer an alternative, such as refrigeration? Likewise, if you’re interested in cosmetics or restoration, does the funeral home have someone on staff with those skills?
- Does the funeral home offer affordable goods and services?
- Consider how much money you want to spend on the funeral. This number can include the cost of all products and funeral home services you will be purchasing, as well as all cemetery costs.
- Does the funeral home offer competitively priced products?
- How much is their Basic Services Fee (the non-declinable flat fee that funeral homes charge), relative to other funeral homes in the area?
- If you have a sense of the amount of money you want to spend on the funeral, is the funeral director willing to work with you based on your budget?
Religious And Cultural Considerations
- Does the funeral director understand your religious or cultural needs?
- Has the funeral home ever made a funeral according to your religious or cultural customs?
- Can the funeral home provide the products and services necessary for a traditional funeral according to your beliefs? If the funeral home does not carry any of the products you might need, are they willing to obtain them or have you bring them in from an outside vendor?
As you meet with or speak to funeral directors at funeral homes, keep in mind that, while the subject matter is unusual and sensitive, you are still a consumer and a customer, and you have the rights of a consumer and a customer. To ensure these rights, the Federal Trade Commission created the Funeral Rule, which details the rights that a consumer has when shopping for or purchasing a funeral.
The most basic element of the Funeral Rule guarantees your right to the funeral arrangements you want and the right to decline any arrangements you don’t want. This includes:
- Your right to purchase a “package” of combined goods and services, and your right to purchase goods and services “a la carte”
- Your right to purchase the products you want from the funeral home
- You right to view a price list of products before being shown any products
- Your right to purchase the products you want from a retailer of your choice to be used at the funeral home without fees or penalties from the funeral home
- Your right to an itemized price list, known as a General Price List (GPL), which must list all the services offered by the funeral home. The GPL must be made available to you if you request it, in person, over the phone, or through the mail.