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How to Shop for a Funeral Home

by Jessica Campbell

Compare costs and services to figure out what makes the most sense for your family.

With funerals, as with any expensive purchase, you’ll want to understand what you’re buying before you pay a large sum of money. Just like when buying a car or house, even though there’s a sense of urgency, it’s smart to take a little time to shop around, check out a few different models, and get a feel for which one makes the most sense for you. Here are eight tips for doing that.

1. Plan ahead

Comparison shopping is easier to do if you are planning a funeral in advance. Pre-planning a funeral, before the need arises, can help you make thoughtful choices about funeral providers and services.


Learn whether funeral pre-planning could help protect your family

2. Shop around

Visit multiple funeral homes and compare service offerings and costs. Talking with funeral directors in person can help you decide which funeral home will be the right fit for your family.


3. Talk to at least two funeral homes

Planning a funeral after a loved one’s death can be more complicated. You and your family are grieving, you may be caught off guard by your loved one’s sudden death, and time is of the essence. If possible, call more than one funeral home to compare costs and payment plan options so that you can select the funeral provider that can best accommodate your family’s needs.


4. Ask for a price list

At each funeral home, ask for a general price list (GPL). This will help you understand the types of services offered as well as the prices for each. (Visit consumer.ftc.gov for more info and a funeral pricing checklist.)


5. Choose less-expensive services

Making thoughtful choices about which funeral services and products to include, and which ones to leave out, can help keep the funeral within your budget. A few cost-savers to consider:

  • Cremation. Opting for cremation rather than burial reduces funeral costs by about $1,000, according to the NFDA.
  • Green burial. With natural burial, there is no embalming, so you can save money and the environment at the same time.
  • Body donation. Donating your body to science is one way to reduce costs (no burial or cremation needed) and inspire the next generation of doctors and researchers.
  • Home funeral. Hosting a home funeral may not be for everyone. But for some, a funeral at the home of the deceased or family member can be an intimate, meaningful, and cost-effective option.


6. Avoid emotional overspending

Think about what kind of funeral would be ideal for you and your family, and then decide which service options are a must and which are less essential. Choose the services and products that make the most sense for you and your family. Don’t let your grief guide your decision-making.


7. Bill the funeral to the estate

Money from the deceased’s estate can be used to pay funeral fees. Exactly how much money is available, however, may not be known until long after the funeral. And by law, estate funds cannot be paid out right away. For this reason, the experts at Executor.org recommend that you ask the funeral home to bill the estate.

If you are helping to plan a funeral for someone whose estate may not have enough money to pay, you should be aware that the person signing the funeral home contract typically is held responsible for paying for funeral expenses if the deceased’s assets don’t cover the bill. Executor.org advises choosing the most economical options possible in this situation.


8. Discuss payment options

Ask funeral homes about discounts for pre-payment. Many funeral homes also offer payment plans that allow you to pay off the funeral over time.


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