How to Choose the Right Funeral Home --
Calculate how many people you expect to attend. Make sure you
have a good estimate before you choose the funeral home
and reception site and that the facility will be large enough to
accommodate your gathering.
Just because your loved one died away from home it doesn’t mean the funeral or burial needs to occur away from home. Bodies or ashes (cremains) are often transported for a funeral gathering or burial.
Funeral homes frequently arrange for the transport of bodies by air or car for services in another city, state or country. Pick a funeral home in a location convenient for survivors to gather for the ceremony or in a location close to the place of burial. You will need to arrange transportation with two funeral homes one to pick the body up and transport it and a second funeral home to receive the body.
If cremation is desired, you may hire a funeral home or crematory to cremate the body and then place the ashes (cremains) in a fly-safe container for travel by air or simply drive the cremains to the location for the ceremony. This is a much less expensive option than transporting a whole body.
If you’re planning on using the funeral home as the location for the ceremony and reception, look carefully at your options. There’s a huge variety in what funeral homes offer. Look at their websites for descriptions and pictures of their facilities. Unfortunately, many funeral homes don’t have comprehensive websites, so you will probably need to make phone calls for more information. Before booking a service, visit the funeral home and tour the facilities. Here are some things to consider:
Prices vary. Call around. If you ask, funeral directors must give you pricing information on the phone. This makes comparing prices between multiple providers much easier. The funeral home cannot demand your name, address or phone number before giving you the prices.
The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule requires all funeral directors to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and various other disclosures about both funeral goods and services. Funeral directors are required to provided the itemized pricing for individual products in person and if asked also over the phone.
Know what you’re buying. Ask what services are included in the fee. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Consider Cultural and Religious Practices.
Most funeral homes will accommodate any culture or religion, although, some specialize in a particular religious or cultural practice. Ask to make sure your religious and culture practices will be followed at the funeral home.
There are several websites that provide reviews of funeral homes, including TheFuneralSite.com. Do a Google search for the funeral home name you're considering along with the word "reviews" - sometimes the search results will contain customer reviews.
Follow your gut.
How were you treated on the phone or during your visit? Will the funeral home meet your expectations?
Ceremony Considerations -
- Is there adequate parking for your anticipated guests?
- Will the chapel/ceremony site accommodate the number of anticipated guests?
- Is there a sound and video system for playing CDs or a tribute video?
- Will your loved one’s service be the only service at the facility that day?
- Is there a separate play area for children or infant “cry room”?
Reception Considerations -
- Does the funeral home allow food and beverages at the reception?
- Does the funeral home require the use of their caterer or can you bring in your own food or catering service?
- Does the funeral home allow alcohol at the reception?
- Is the reception space adequate for the number of guest you expect?
- Are there sufficient tables, chairs and standing room for the anticipated guests?
- What is the time limit for your reception?
- Can you play music at the reception?
- Can you show a video at the reception?
Disposition Considerations -
- Is there a cemetery nearby or adjacent to the funeral home?
- Is there an in-house crematory?
- Can you witness the cremation procedure?
If the funeral homes in your area do not have adequate reception areas or if you’re located in a state that prohibits food and beverages in funeral homes, consider using the funeral home just for services involving the storage, preparation and disposition of the body.
Have the memorial gathering at a hotel reception room, banquet hall or outdoor location.
Five states prohibit food and beverages in funeral homes; they are -- New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.