Planning a Funeral Service – The 5 Important Things to do














 
 

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Planning a Funeral Service – the 5 important things to do

Planning a funeral service can be a daunting task.  There are a number of preparations to co-ordinate, important documentation to be located and completed, decisions to be made – and all this often in a short timescale.  To help you we have listed below 5 top tips to help you plan a dignified, yet affordable, funeral or cremation service.

#1 Compare Funeral Prices

When ever possible, always try and get more than 1 estimate from a funeral home for the cost of the funeral service required.  Prices can vary greatly between different funeral homes, and don't forget that you can order a funeral casket from a different company and the funeral home must use the casket and cannot charge any extras for this.

#2 Know the ‘funeral rule’

Always acquire the funeral home’s price list. All funeral homes in America are required by Federal Law to provide everyone with a written price for all services and funeral related products that they offer.   Check out the related article below on ‘Understanding the funeral rule’.

Do not allow yourself or your family to be pressured by the funeral home or funeral director into ordering extra items or services that you feel you do not want. 

Remember to try and avoid spending too much money on the funeral service, you do not have spend a small fortune to have a dignified funeral, whether it be a burial service or a funeral cremation service.   A dignified service can be achieved for a modest amount.

#3 Be clear about how state funeral legislation affects you

Know your rights as a consumer. Funeral laws are not the same in every State and it is very useful to know which items are required by the law for a funeral service and which items are added extras and are not required by state law. 

There are 7 states in the U.S. where you are legally required to employ a licensed funeral director.  There are also varying regulations about your rights to purchase caskets, burial vaults, conduct a burial on your own land or scatter cremated remains.  

Check our state-by-state funeral-planning guides in the resource section at the bottom of this article.  Each state guide provides a section by section account of your rights in terms of purchasing funeral services and merchandise.

#4 Use a checklist to help you plan your funeral 

As I mentioned above, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start when you have the task of planning a funeral.  Let’s try and keep it simple, and use available tools to assist you.  There are numerous funeral-planning checklists available today.  Whether you download one from a website, use an online tool, or one provided by your funeral home.  There are checklists available on our page about how to ‘Save Money Arranging a Funeral’.

When determining the actual price of a funeral service, there are several different things that need to be established before hand.  The cost of the funeral will in part depend on what type of funeral service you choose.   What kind of extra, or ancillary, services you contract from the funeral home, or arrange directly.

Using a checklist to plan the funeral can also help you keep focused on just the services, and budget, you have outlined.  During the distress of arranging a funeral, often family can find they end up being swayed to purchase products and services that they really did not want.

#5 Carefully consider burial or cremation as funeral options

Although burial still outweighs cremation as a funeral option, 4 out of 10 funerals are now cremations.  Cremation is the cheaper option when compared with a burial, however, a cremation funeral service is no less dignified and has become much more popular over recent years. 

When arranging a burial there are other costs like the actual grave plot, which can sometimes cost thousands as more and more cemeteries become full.  Opting for a cremation can significantly reduce the funeral services and products you require, and generally cuts the cost of funeral expenses by at least 50%.  You can even reduce them lower, if you decide upon a direct cremation without a service.

Also, bear in mind --

The choice of casket or coffin can add greatly to final cost of the funeral service, some Name Brand Caskets today cost more than the actual funeral service itself. 

The number of family members and friends attending the funeral service will also add to the cost as will the number and types of vehicles required. 

Remember, some of the larger corporate owned chains of funeral homes trade under many different names and it can be very difficult to tell the difference between an independent family owned business and a corporate owned funeral chain.  

Expert Author: Sara J. Marsden

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 5 years.

Related Articles:

Resources:

Individual State Funeral-Planning Guides – Top tips to arranging a funeral and how state laws affect decisions

Last Revised:  04/09/2013