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11 Essential Questions To Ask A Funeral Home Director

Rikin Shah | Licensed Life & Health Insurance Agent

Questions To Ask A Funeral Director

When it comes to planning a funeral or memorial service, you want to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that your loved one is given the respect and dignity that they deserve.

The director of your local funeral home can be a valuable resource in aiding with your funeral planning and all of the many options available to you, from direct burial to direct cremation to green burial to even grief assistance.

Without further ado, here are some critical questions to ask a funeral home director.

11 Questions To Ask A Funeral Director

Below you’ll find our list of the most important questions to ask while planning an imminent funeral service.

How Long Has This Funeral Home Been In Business?

Depending on where you live, it may be challenging to find a funeral home that has been in business for many years; however, finding one with some longevity means that they have proven themselves as reliable and trustworthy and able to handle budgets and other financial matters properly.

browsing products and services at a funeral home
Funeral homes have many needed items available for purchase

Can You Provide Your General Price List (GPL)?

Funeral directors are required by law to provide consumers with a list of their services and corresponding prices. Not only will this provide you with price transparency, but it will also give you an idea of all of the options available for your funeral ceremony or memorial services.

Sample Funeral Home General Price List

Sample Funeral Home General Price List (Page 2)
Every funeral home is required, by law, to give you a General Price List (essentially, a funeral cost menu)

It will include prices for a casket, burial vault, flower arrangements, death certificates, and the overhead and professional services required for your funeral service.

The highest additional cost that this “menu” will not show is the cost of a burial plot (or cemetery plot). For that, you will have to reach out directly to the cemetery you’re interested in.

Finally, this list will help you compare prices between the various independent funeral homes in your area and ultimately help you save money.

Do You Provide Cremation?

Cremation is an increasingly popular choice – almost 6 out of 10 Americans are cremated these days.

However, not all funeral homes cremate bodies.  Less than 20% of them do it themselves.  Be sure to ask your funeral director if they provide this service and how much it will cost.

In most cases, cremation will take between 1-4 hours, depending on the size of the person being cremated.

The standard fee for a direct cremation without a chapel service typically ranges from $400-$850. You likely will also have to purchase an urn or other container to hold the cremated remains, and these cost between $100 and $200 on average.

When all of the costs are totaled, you’ll find that direct cremation is by far the least expensive.

Can You Tell Us About The Cremation Process?

Many families choose this type of service because it can save them time and money; however, you should know a few things before making a final decision.

  • First, many funeral homes will not cremate human remains without permission from a person’s family or estate representative.
  • Second, if a body has been dead for less than 24 hours, it can typically be embalmed, halting decomposition progress. The deceased body will look as it did before death. Embalming costs can range from $400 to $1,000

What Type Of Memorial Service Can We Have?

funeral service with family members

During a funeral service (or memorial service), friends and family come together to pay their respects, reminisce about good memories, and eulogize the deceased.

In most cases, there are no government regulations regarding how many guests may attend, nor do you need an obituary notice for friends and family members to visit (unless required by the place of death).

However, be sure to check with your funeral director to see if the funeral home has any special requirements for viewings and services.

What Can You Do To Make The Body Presentable?

In certain circumstances (i.e., depending on the nature of the death or whether the decomposition process has already begun), the body may need work before it is ready for an open casket viewing.

Make sure to ask your funeral director what they can do to make the dead body more aesthetically presentable, especially if you would like to have a viewing during your funeral service.

Is Embalming Needed For Our Funeral Service?

You should ask your funeral director if an unembalmed body would provide family and friends the opportunity to view the person in their casket.

Typically, the body will require embalming if you hold the funeral more than 24-48 hours after death. Embalming is a process that uses chemical preservatives to slow or stop decomposition.

This maintains the physical presentation of the body so they can be viewed in their casket.

Note that embalming makes cremation impossible without first applying additional measures, so if you are undecided, be sure to let the funeral home know.

When does law require embalming?

Embalming is required by law in most states when someone dies under specific circumstances.

If the death occurred because of trauma (e.g., accident, homicide, suicide), infectious disease (e.g., HIV/AIDS), or if the body has been autopsied, embalming will typically be required by law.

Additionally, federal regulations require that bodies transported across state lines for funeral services must first receive certain levels of embalming and disinfecting before cremation or burial can take place.

Are There Other Options For Final Arrangements?

If you do not want your loved one cremated or buried, check with your funeral director about other options you may have.

One increasingly popular option is to donate the body to medical schools and universities for research purposes. This will cost you nothing but will require some paperwork.

What Are My Payment (& Financial Assistance) Options?

If saving money is a priority for you, one easy option is to ask if your funeral home has any funeral packages that can help you save by bundling goods and services.

Funeral homes typically require payment at least partially upfront (usually 30-50% of the total cost).

With the average funeral now costing upwards of $10,000 (including the cost of the burial plot), affordability can be an issue. If this is the case for you, be sure to check out our article on what to do if you can’t afford a funeral.

Burial Insurance

Perhaps the best way to plan for end-of-life costs is to buy burial insurance (also known as funeral insurance or final expense insurance).

Check with your life insurance company to see if they sell burial insurance, as this may be a great way to afford the significant, unexpected expense of a funeral.

Funeral Savings Plans

Finally, be sure to ask your funeral director about personal funeral plans that your funeral home may offer to help with the cost of future funerals.

How Soon Can My Loved One Be Cremated Or Buried?

If you are in a rush to get your funeral service done quickly, make sure to let the funeral director specifically know so they can assist you in any way possible.

Your state may have specific requirements for storing human remains after death; however, some facilities offer refrigeration units that help reduce the amount of time spent in their facility before transportation and disposal – ask about what options they may have available for you during this difficult time.

Do You Provide Resources For Grieving Family?

The passing of a loved one can be a challenging and emotional time, and family and friends often like to feel as though their deceased loved one will be remembered long after they are gone.

A burial plot and headstone are not the only way to accomplish this, though.

Most funeral homes offer ways for friends and family to pay tribute and share their happy memories (e.g., an online guestbook). If this is important to you, inquire with your funeral director about their options for remembering and memorializing your loved one.

Brother and sister visiting grave site

Conclusion

As you can see, funeral directors do a lot more than provide you with a death certificate.

When it comes to organizing your loved one’s funeral services, you deserve to have all of your questions answered, so be sure to set up an appointment with your local funeral director and get the answers you need to plan a fitting funeral for your loved one.

Warms regards,
The GetSure Team

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