11 Essential Questions To Ask A Funeral Home Director

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    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.

    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

    Can you provide your general price list (GPL), including details on any funeral packages you offer?

    Funeral homes 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.

    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 biggest 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.

    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)

    What Can You Do To Make The Deceased Body Presentable?

    In certain circumstances (i.e., depending on the nature of the death or if 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 can be done to make the dead body more aesthetically presentable, especially if you would like to have a viewing during your funeral service.

    What are my payment options and options for financial assistance?

    First, understand that funeral homes typically require payment at least partially upfront – usually 30-50% of the total cost.

    Some argue that requiring payment first means they don’t have any incentive to manage your finances properly; however, it does guarantee that you will be able to reserve your loved one’s spot in the facility of choice, which could ultimately save money down the road since other services (e.g., cremations) might not be available without a reservation.

    In the end, however, you must be able to pay for your loved one’s funeral and understand how to plan if money might be a problem.

    Finally, be sure to inquire about personal funeral plans for future funeral services that you may have to arrange.

    How Soon can We have my loved one 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 do 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 Or Services for Grieving family Members? 

    Funerals can bring up many different emotions, and it is important to feel as though the person you cared about is still remembered even after they are gone.

    Many funeral homes offer an online guest book or some other way that friends and family can pay tribute and share their memories – if this is important to you, inquire with your desired funeral home about what options might be available during this time.

    Brother and sister visiting grave site

    What do we need to know about the process of cremation?

    Cremation is an increasingly popular choice among those who have passed away – in fact, 4 out of 10 Americans choose cremation as their final disposition!

    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 – doing so otherwise is illegal.
    • Second, if a body has been dead for less than 24 hours, it can typically be embalmed, which means preventing the growth of bacteria and halting the progress of decomposition. The body will look as it did before death, but there will be a fee associated with this process which can range from $400-1,000. See below for more information on embalming.

    Would You Recommend Embalming For The Funeral Service We Have In Mind?

    Embalming is a process that slows or stops decomposition by replacing bodily fluids with chemical preservatives such as formaldehyde.

    This allows funeral home staff to change the physical presentation of someone’s body so they can be viewed in their casket. However, this makes cremation impossible without first applying additional measures (e.g., special equipment).

    You should ask your funeral director if an unembalmed body would provide family and friends the opportunity to view the person in their casket – this may be an important factor when making your final decisions.

    Is Embalming Required?

    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.

    Funeral directors are legally obligated to offer standard embalming services to families – however, they usually have the option of embalming or not. In some states, families can choose what level of preservation they prefer so long as it is sanitary and still adheres to local health codes.

    Embalming process

    Are there any other options for the body’s final disposition?

    If you do not want your loved one cremated or buried, check with your funeral director about bodies donated for anatomical study at medical schools and universities; this costs nothing but requires some paperwork.

    Some people also donate their bodies for research purposes (e.g., cancer studies) or to companies that make products (e.g., synthetic diamonds, bone china).

    Do You Provide Cremation?

    No, 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 can take from 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 dollars. Keep in mind that you would have to purchase an urn or other containers separately when choosing this option – these usually cost around $100-$200.

    You will also want to determine exactly what you want to do with the cremated remains.

    What are my options For My Loved One’s funeral service?

    Friends and family can come together in a room of your choice to pay their respects, reminisce about good memories, say a favorite quote or poem – or anything else that they feel is appropriate. Instead of flowers, you could also choose to have donations made in the deceased person’s name to assist with funeral-related costs. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for an economical way to honor someone who has died on a fixed income.

    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, you may want to check with your funeral director if they have any special requirements for having a viewing and/or service.

    funeral service with family members


    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

    Rikin Shah

    Rikin Shah

    Rikin is the Founder & Head of Content at GetSure. He is a licensed life, accident & health insurance agent, with over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. He holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University and an MBA from The Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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