There are nearly 20,000 funeral homes in the US alone, which can make picking the one that perfectly matches your family’s needs difficult. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying thousands for a funeral ceremony that could’ve cost much less elsewhere. But if you thoroughly research all your options and follow these steps, you will be able to find a high quality, cost-effective funeral home with minimal stress and frustration.
Step 1: Decide on the Services You Want
First of all, you will need to decide what funeral services you want for your loved one. Do you want a traditional funeral with an open casket, or do you want a simpler memorial with an urn? Do you want a direct cremation or an immediate burial? Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of services funeral homes offer and pick an option that best fits your vision. Some funeral homes may even let you fully customize your service, but don’t let funeral homes pressure you into picking services that you’re not interested in.
Step 2: Determine How You’ll Pay
Will you pay with cash, check, or credit? Some funeral homes offer payment plans if you can’t afford the full cost at once. Find out if your family has made any funeral arrangements in advance. Have burial plots been pre-purchased or the funeral pre-paid? Some families set aside funds for a funeral in a trust, others in a POD (Payable On Death) savings account. You may even have a death benefit as part of a life insurance policy or final expense insurance that will cover funeral costs.
Step 3: Consider Alternate and Additional Options
Have you considered organ or body donation, or having a green funeral? Have you decided between cremation and traditional burial? Go over all possible options before committing to a traditional . full-service funeral.
Step 4: Decide On A Funeral Budget
Once you’ve figured out what services you’re looking for and how you’re going to pay for them, decide on a reasonable funeral budget for your family. Funeral home costs for an average full service funeral is more than $7,000, so make sure you understand this will be a hefty investment no matter what funeral home you choose. But if you do your research, you can save thousands of dollars.
Step 5: Begin Your Online Search
With Funerals360.com’s search function, you can find nearby funeral homes, cemeteries, florists, and more. You’re not stuck with the closest option, either, because funeral homes often service areas up to 15-30 miles away from them at no extra cost, so cast your net wide. Read reviews on Funerals360, which already include Yelp and Google Reviews, for a full picture of the business. Do you want a cultural or religious funeral? Use Search Filters to see whether the funeral home is affiliated with your culture, or at the very least knowledgeable about funeral customs in your culture or religion.
Step 6: Compare Costs
Though it’s still not common to find pricing on funeral home websites, it’s worth looking to see if they post their pricing or a general FAQ, saving you the trouble of calling or visiting them--though that should be your next step once you’ve narrowed down your search. You can also check Funerals360.com for pricing, or contact the funeral home directly via phone or email to request a copy of their General Price List. Make sure the funeral home is clear and upfront about all its prices, or you may be hit with hidden costs.
Step 7: Know Your Consumer Rights
The only way to be prepared for hidden costs is to be fully aware of all the services a funeral home may charge you for. Ensure that you have access to all price lists. As a consumer, the Federal Trade Commission grants you the right to…
Buy only the funeral arrangements you want
Get price information over the telephone
Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home
See a written casket price list before you see the caskets.
See a written outer burial container (burial vaults) price list.
Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, and before you pay.
Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement
Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation.
Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere
Make funeral arrangements without embalming.
Step 8: Visit the Funeral Home
Now that you’ve settled on a cost-efficient choice, visit the funeral home in person in order to get a feel of the facilities and the staff. Are the staff compassionate, understanding, and willing to answer all your questions? Do they make grieving families feel welcome? Are the facilities clean and beautiful? Go with your gut--if something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t the right funeral home for you.
For more educational articles on funerals, click here. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the funeral planning checklist, which will guide you through planning the perfect funeral for your loved one.