Before You Begin

Here we will help you look at some of the decisions to be made before moving on to the funeral, memorial or end-of-life celebration. Some questions you should ask yourself:

Here are some things to think about before you start planning:

  • Did the honoree discuss their wishes with you?
  • Did they have a pre-plan arrangement with a funeral home or cemetery?
  • What can you afford?

It's a good idea to do some research before making any decisions.

Ask for recommendations

If you know someone who has planned a funeral, ask them about their experiences. Would they recommend the funeral director they used? Did they feel they were treated honestly and fairly?

Consider your budget

Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. The median price of a full-service funeral with a funeral home, including a casket and vault, is about $7,755, although "extras" like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards or limousines can add thousands of dollars to the bottom line. Many funerals run well over $10,000.

Unlike any other major purchase we make in our lives, we spend this money with little or no research. We encourage you to research, have a budget and try and stick to it. If you don't feel up to making phone calls to check pricing, ask a friend to do it for you.

Know your rights

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone. The Rule also requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services. For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list that shows the goods and services the home offers. If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets.

According to the Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

What kind of funeral do you want?

Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.

Among the choices you'll need to make are whether you want one of these basic types of funerals, or something in between. Please visit Heart2Soul's Funeral Planning Help Section to understand what your options are.

The full-service funeral

This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral directors as a "traditional" funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment or cremation of the remains.

It is generally the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to the funeral home's basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body; rental of the funeral home for the viewing or service; and use of vehicles to transport the family if they don't use their own. The costs of a casket, cemetery plot or crypt and other funeral goods and services also muct be factored in.

Federal Trade Commission: Funerals: A Consumer Guide

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