What To Do When Someone Dies: First Steps in Funeral Planning

Funeral Planning

Posted on November 23, 2012 by Rachel Zeldin

What do you do if a loved one passes away and you need to make the funeral arrangements? If you are like the majority of North Americans, you have not planned a funeral in the last decade or even at all. This task can be completely overwhelming which is why  we are going to outline where to start.

1. The first thing to do is to establish who you will work with to make the funeral arrangements.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), there are over 19,000 funeral homes across the United States making finding the right funeral home for you and your loved one a time-consuming task.

Even if you have used a particular funeral home in the past, you should evaluate others in the area since prices vary greatly between providers for identical services.

2. Evaluate Your Funeral Home and Cremation Options.

If a funeral home has not been pre-selected, it is wise to evaluate who your options are and call between 3-5 establishments to understand what services they offer. Be sure to get à la carte pricing for each of their services and products so you can have a true apples-to-apples comparison between providers.

By law, funeral homes must provide pricing over the phone, so you don't physically need to go tot he funeral home until you've done your homework, gathered your prices, and made a decision.

Funerals360 offers comprehensive information on all funeral homes across the US. Using the Find a Vendor option is far more efficient than using the phone book or initiating a search online to visit each funeral home's website (if one exists) and it provides all the information in the same format so you can narrow down your options in a fraction of the time it took in the past.

3. Narrow down your list of funeral or cremation providers.

Once you have initiated a funeral home search, viewed each of their listings, and narrowed down the options to the top 3-5 that meet your criteria, it is time to call or visit each one for further information on the services they offer and at what cost.

By law, funeral homes must provide prices over the phone and a price list if you visit them in person.  

4. Compare Prices.

Services must be offered à la carte, however many offer packages or bundles of common services. Be sure you understand what is part of each package before you select one to ensure you are not purchasing goods or services that are not necessary. Throughout this process you will find that you are often comparing different packages to one another which makes it difficult to establish exact costs. You have the right to know what each item costs so you can compare apples to apples, so be sure to ask for the prices à la carte as well.

5. Make a Decision Who To Work With.

After you have spoken to the funeral directors at the funeral homes you have selected, you should have a good idea of the type of business they are and what the funeral will cost you. At this point you should be confident of your options and it is time to make a decision and put plans into action.

6. Get Organized and Educated

You can use Funerals360's Funeral Planning Checklist to help stay organized and jot down notes for after the funeral. It is customizable, savable, shareable, and printable for your convenience. 

Also read through the Funerals360's Casket Guide to understand casket choices prior to visiting the funeral home. You can even shop online first (check Amazon or Walmart) to get an idea of price and bring a print out to the funeral home to negotiate a lower cost on similar caskets that they offer.