FUNERAL SHOPPING: THE BASICS
If you’ve never planned a funeral before you might feel overwhelmed and not even know where to begin or what questions to ask. Here are some items that you should consider.
DO NOT FAIL TO CONSIDER THE REPUTATION OF THE FUNERAL HOME
Not all funeral homes are the same. A qualified funeral professional will take time to discuss the variety of options available. You will need to know that the funeral home stands behind the services and products they offer. An established firm with a strong reputation offers peace of mind in knowing all the details will be carried out as planned. A funeral is one of life's major events, so it is important to have it take care of by people you can trust.
Just like planning for a wedding, a baby, or buying a home or car, families need to talk about funeral planning and the costs involved. Avoiding the topic won’t stave off death, but it will make it more difficult, and likely more expensive, for survivors. Planning ahead can make a painful time easier to bear, and many find great meaning and peace carrying out thoughtful funeral plans that honored their family member’s wishes.
There are as many ways to honor the dead as there are cultures, religions and budgets. Your personal philosophy or faith should guide your choices. No religion or philosophy dictates how much money should be spent on a funeral, and no belief system encourages burdensome spending. Families can choose simple arrangements, such as a cremation with no ceremony, or more elaborate ones, such as a long wake before a funeral. You can use no casket at all, or choose a handcrafted hardwood casket. You can keep the body at home for visitation, or hold a viewing at a funeral home.
Whatever you choose, be sure it’s based on what’s meaningful to you, not on what you think other people expect you to do. No amount of money, great or small, can express how we feel about those who have died. Taking an active role in your funeral arrangements is important.
EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS
DON'T OVERLOOK HOW THE FUNERAL HOME MANAGES THE DETAILS
We believe that a funeral should be as unique as the individual. Today, most funeral directors offer ways to tell the story of the life that has been lived, through services such as memory tables, tribute videos, memorial websites, military tributes, and much more. Personalizing the service makes the event more satisfying and memorable for everyone.
DO NOT PRICE COMPARE WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT IS INCLUDED AND WHAT IS NOT
When people shop they often fail to compare the same services and merchandise at each firm. If a casket has the same name, they will assume it is the same quality when often there are different levels of quality. The most confusing part is when families compare service charges and think one funeral home is a lot less when actually the firm with the lower service charge may often charge more for the casket and other services and merchandise. Always compare the bottom line and find out what is included and what is not.
Many times, families gathering information on funeral costs make a decision because of a low price. While it is very important to stay within a predetermined budget, it's also important to completely understand exactly which services are offered, and which you really want. In making this decision, be sure to consider the trustworthiness of the funeral home, the quality of the facilities, and the experience of the staff. You might receive much more satisfying service for a few dollars more.
Federal law requires funeral homes to give you price quotes over the phone and a printed, itemized General Price List when you show up in person. A General Price List is no more than a menu is at a restaurant. The items that you select, are the items that you are changed for.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Once you’ve decided what you want, begin the conversation with your likely survivors about your wishes and what you’ve learned.
Put your plans in writing, but don’t put them in a will or a safe deposit box, as they likely won’t be seen until long after other arrangements have been made. To have all your documents in one place, see the “25 Documents you Need before you die from the Wall Street Journal.” Also, please refer to the “10 Mistakes to Avoid in Funeral Planning.”