How to Choose a Funeral Home

How to Choose a Funeral Home

There’s never a perfect time to look for the best funeral home or to plan on what items you want included in a funeral. Even though the average funeral costs around $8,000 this moment is quite possibly the most neglected major life event that we reluctantly encounter.

The right time to find the best funeral home for you or your loved one is when you don’t need to. Often, finding the best funeral home is put to the wayside when a loved one passes away. The spouse or significant other is in a state of distraught and simply uses the nearest funeral home or a funeral home that a friend or relative has suggested.

The difference between funeral home A and B can mean the difference between spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for the same services. How so? The underlying reason is ownership.

Although a funeral home may appear to be privately owned, over 20% of funeral homes are actually owned by a corporation. Corporations typically charge much higher rates than a privately owned funeral home and may even keep the same name of the funeral home that it has acquired.

You may think that you are going with a local company just because of the name on the board outside of the home, when in fact, that funeral home may be operated by a corporation which charges 30-40% more than the competing privately owned funeral homes in the area.

You can see why preparing in advance for a funeral can help save you money and reduce unnecessary stress in your life!

Here are the top five things to look for when finding the best funeral home for your needs:

1. Price compare. Every funeral home is required by law to make available a “General Price List” of all of the services and products that it offers. Ask for a copy so that you may compare the pricing with other funeral homes in the area. Many funeral homes offer a packaged selection – this may help reduce your overall out of pocket costs or they may charge more. Double check to see what competitors are offering.

2. Note what is included in their service fees as these may vary significantly from one funeral home to the other. The more specific the line items, the easier it will be to choose a funeral home.

3. Include ‘funeral costs’ in your life insurance plan. Avoid buying a funeral plan from the funeral home itself to avoid any undue headaches.

4. Skip the “protective” casket upsell. While this so-called feature keeps outside elements from destroying the body, it actually dehydrates the body and petrifies it. This little $8.00 cost to funeral homes is upsold for as much as $800 extra to their clients!

5. Buy a casket at Costco or a local retailer. Even Wal-Mart’s online store sells caskets. Funeral companies are required to allow you to use the casket of your choice. You are not required to use only their services or products should you decide to have the funeral at their location. Funeral homes are NOT allowed to charge a handling fee for using outside caskets. Currently, only Oklahoma bars customers from buying caskets directly from a retailer.

Although one hopes for the best, it is always good to prepare for the worst. Preparing in advance will help you and your loved ones have a smoother transition during this difficult time.

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.

50 Comments

  1. Douglas Brown July 17, 2015 Reply

    These are some great tips when preparing for funeral home service, especially the price compare. We are going to be looking for the right place for the next couple of months, and since we have plenty of time we can make sure we get it right. The other thing we can do in the meantime is prepare by including funeral costs in our insurance plan; that should help quite a bit I would imagine.

  2. Linda Tucker September 29, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this advice on choosing the right funeral home! I had no idea that you could actually buy a casket from a local retailer instead of from a home! That could definitely help save money, especially if you are picky about how your casket looks. Plus, I think it would be kind of nice to be able to pick out a casket without worrying about forming a contract with a specific funeral home.

  3. Jennifer Andrews October 28, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for the post. Our Grandmother will be passing away soon and she has asked us to help choose her funeral home and take care of her estate. I was unaware that you could funeral expenses in your life insurance plan, I will have to ask her if that is included in hers. I also like the tip to check on specific services. If something is unclear make sure they clarify it in writing.

  4. Timothy Reeg January 29, 2016 Reply

    Great tips, but I would like to add one more important tip here, i.e. visit several funeral homes. Ask the funeral home for their General Price List and have the director review it with you. Don’t select a funeral provider unless you feel completely comfortable with the director and the premises.

  5. patti February 16, 2016 Reply

    “This little $8.00 cost to funeral homes is upsold for as much as $800 extra to their clients!” I’m sorry, but usually cemeteries require a vault to protect the large equipment they use for digging graves from crushing the casket. It also cost significantly more than $8.00. Check with your cemetery and local to see if this is a requirement.

    “Buy a casket at Costco or a local retailer.” Do they have them in stock or do you have to order them? If you have to order them, how long does it take for them to be delivered?

    “3. Include ‘funeral costs’ in your life insurance plan. Avoid buying a funeral plan from the funeral home itself to avoid any undue headaches.” It is my understanding that you cannot use the funds from your life insurance plan until the estate is settled, usually well after the death has occurred. With a PreNeed plan made and funded with your local independently owned funeral home, your funds are safe, and your plan is guaranteed to lock in today’s prices.

  6. Jeff Madison March 29, 2016 Reply

    I appreciate your tip on including funeral costs in your life insurance policy. It seems that making this kind of adjustment would be a good way to ease the stress your family would face after your passing. My wife and I are beginning to plan our estates so maybe we should include funeral home expenses when we set up our life insurance policy.

  7. Sarah Smith May 19, 2016 Reply

    My father is trying to pre-plan his funeral but doesn’t know what funeral home to go with. Thanks for the tip that all funeral homes are supposed to have a general price list. I’ll have to make sure that we look at this so that we can find a decently priced funeral home.

  8. Luke Smith June 9, 2016 Reply

    A friend of mine’s father just passed away and they are looking to work with a great funeral home. They don’t have a lot of money so they should look for what fees there are. It would be nice for them to find a caring funeral director.

  9. Maggie Allen July 1, 2016 Reply

    I really like your second point on seeing what is included in the service fees of the funeral home, and then comparing them. That could definitely make it a lot easier to compare prices, too. After all, one funeral home could seem more expensive, but have less additional fees than other options.

  10. Jade Brunet August 10, 2016 Reply

    I am looking to find a good funeral home. Thanks for informing me that it is wise to compare prices. Another thing to consider is if children are allowed. I want my children to be able to witness this special experience.

  11. Shad Morris November 3, 2016 Reply

    We recently just lost my grandmother, and we weren’t sure what funeral home to hold the service. I really like that you say to compare the pricing of the different homes. It would be nice to find one that isn’t too expensive, but is close by.

  12. Funeral Homes Ipswich November 4, 2016 Reply

    I agree that locating for funeral homes Ipswich in advance is the best way to be ready in case one of your family member suddenly passed away. Indeed, it’s always better to be prepared for the worst. These funeral firms will surely make a difficult time more bearable for the families.

  13. Ridley Fitzgerald November 10, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the tips for finding a funeral home. I agree that it’s a good idea to really look at a what’s included in their service fee. That would be easy to overlook in the aftermath of a death in the family, so thanks for the reminder.

  14. Finn Stewart November 17, 2016 Reply

    I’m reaching the age where it’s logical to start thinking about my funeral and what my kids will do after I leave this earth. I want to get everything in order and choose a funeral home now so that my kids don’t have to worry about anything. I really like your tip about asking for a copy of the general price list at a few funeral homes and compare the price of the packages or service. I don’t want anything fancy, so it will be nice to see what each funeral home offers to help me make my decision easier.

  15. Troy Blackburn December 12, 2016 Reply

    I had no idea that over 20% of funeral homes are owned by a corporation! I’ve heard though that many people end up choosing a funeral home based solely on location and not anything else. I have an aunt who is aging quickly and we’ll need to choose a funeral home with her soon. This article will help lots! Thanks!

  16. Burt Silver February 22, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the tips about choosing a funeral home. My grandmother is nearing the end of her life, and we want to make sure that everything is taken care of. Thanks for mentioning that you should be very specific about what is included in the funeral package. I would want to make sure we knew exactly what we were getting.

  17. Ridley Fitzgerald March 6, 2017 Reply

    I appreciate the tips you have for choosing a funeral home. I like how you said to skip the protective casket thing. I wouldn’t want to spend extra money to protect the casket when it is under the ground.

  18. Bernard Clyde March 17, 2017 Reply

    I agree that you should compare a few different funeral homes and their prices so that you can find an option that provides the service you want for your loved one at a fair price. There are enough things to worry about when funeral planning to have to feel overcharged. It’s important to not just settle for the cheapest funeral home option, but you should feel like you are getting a fair deal.

  19. Olivia Nelson March 28, 2017 Reply

    I agree that you need to compare prices when looking for a funeral home. It would seem that if you want to leave your loved ones in good financial shape you would need to consider the cost of a funeral. I have heard that cremation is another way to help reduce costs so finding a home that offers this would be helpful.

  20. Annika Larson April 27, 2017 Reply

    My mother is critically ill, and we are looking to plan some of the funeral arrangement to ease the stress when the time comes. It’s important that we are able to have a meaningful service at an affordable price. Thanks for the information on the general price list that should be provided by different funeral homes in order to compare. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Gloria Durst May 17, 2017 Reply

    Even though a funeral is an emotional time you still would want to choose a funeral home that offers a fair price. It would make sense that you would not want to overburden yourself with the cost of memorial services. My husband’s aunt recently passed away so they’ll have to find a funeral home that offers a good price.

  22. Alex Dean May 26, 2017 Reply

    We are worried that my grandfather might not be with us much longer, and we are trying to be prepared for when he passes. It’s good to know that something we might want to do is compare prices of different funeral homes. That way we can find the right package to help lay him to rest.

  23. LNweaver June 14, 2017 Reply

    That’s good to know that funeral homes are required to make general price lists. That way you can compare multiple homes for the best price. Funeral services are generally pretty expensive.

  24. John June 15, 2017 Reply

    I liked you suggestion to compare pricing from different funeral homes and to look at packaged selections for discounts. This will be helpful for my wife since she’s in charge of planning the funeral of one of her close relatives. I think things would be less stressful on her if she were to compare the prices and services of multiple homes and picked one that fits her needs and budget.

  25. Afton Jackson July 19, 2017 Reply

    I didn’t realize how important it is to compare prices across several mortuaries to ensure you know what their packaged selections are. My grandmother’s diabetes has been giving her problems lately. Hopefully, we can use these tips to find a location that can help us give her the memorial she deserves.

  26. Harper Campbell July 26, 2017 Reply

    My mother believes that her time on earth is drawing to a close, and she wants to be prepared for when it does. I like how you pointed out that we might want to buy a casket from a local retailer, to hopefully save a little money. It will be nice to try and find her something that won’t break her bank during her final days.

  27. Gloria Durst September 9, 2017 Reply

    I agree that you would want to consider asking for a price list when choosing a funeral home. It would be good to find someone who is experienced and who also offers a fair price. My cousin is looking for a funeral home for my aunt, so he’ll have to consider the pricing of a few different ones.

  28. Gloria Durst September 13, 2017 Reply

    I like how you say that you would want to find a funeral home that is well priced. It would be good to find something that is affordable to not put too much a strain on your finances. My brother is looking for a funeral home, so he’ll have to consider one that is well priced.

  29. Bobby Saint October 3, 2017 Reply

    It’s never easy for anybody whenever a loved one has passed on. Just the same, you made a good point about the comparison of prices and services provided by the funeral home of choice. You obviously would want to give your final respects by providing a nice funeral service for the dearly departed. I’ll always keep this in mind.

  30. Joy Butler October 5, 2017 Reply

    My husband’s mother has just passed away and I wanted to make her funeral really special for the family. I agree that comparing prices is the wisest thing to do even in this situation. Thanks for these great tips!

  31. Zachary Tomlinson October 20, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I agree with the statement in order to make a right choice of the funeral home it’s necessary to start from comparing prices. My girlfriend’s granny has recently died, so she has spent the whole day looking for any useful information. I’ll definitely support her sharing this useful information.

  32. Marcus Coons October 25, 2017 Reply

    I loved when you mentioned how taking the time to get a list of services form a funeral home can help you compare them with other providers and choose the best one for your needs. It makes sense to think that taking the time to consult with several funeral providers can help you get the type of services your loved one deserves and be able to personalize it for the best results. My uncle passes away yesterday and we want to make sure we get the best services for him, so I’m glad I found your post.

  33. Taylor Bishop October 31, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for going over some things to think about when looking for a funeral home. I’m glad that you mentioned to look and see what’s in the service fee. It sounds like it could be good to maybe research and learn more about these different items so that you can discuss it with the funeral home.

  34. Marina Wellis November 2, 2017 Reply

    My grandfather passes away this morning, and my parents are in so much grief that they asked me to plan the funeral. Now I’m busy making a research about the things I should do and how I will start. It was great that I read your article first because your advice of asking for copies of general price lists and making comparisons was great. Thanks. I really appreciate it.

  35. Roger Middleton December 6, 2017 Reply

    My father is getting pretty sick and with his age, it might be time for us to start looking into his funeral service and how everything will be handled. I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to compare prices and packages to make sure you can reduce your out of pocket costs. We’ll have to start doing some research and price checking a few services offered in our area to find the best one possible for him.

  36. Julius Wither Amberfield December 18, 2017 Reply

    I really liked it when you said that funeral homes are mandated by law to have a list of the prices and service they offer and that we should ask for a copy so we can make a comparison. That will surely be beneficial because my grandfather wants to plan his funeral in order to avoid problems for his loved ones. I’ll be sure to tell him about this. If we could get in touch with a funeral home that offers packages or discounts to war veterans, then that would be much better. Thanks a lot!

  37. Roger Middleton January 3, 2018 Reply

    I liked that you had mentioned that when it comes to looking for a funeral home that it can be important to compare prices to make sure you can save money where it’s needed. My wife recently lost her father and I’ve been trying to help her with all of the funeral arrangements because she’s pretty distraught about all of it. I’ll have to start shopping around and looking at funeral home pricing to find one that works for us.

  38. Earnest Watkins January 12, 2018 Reply

    I think the most important tip you shared in your article was to compare prices from multiple funeral homes before selecting one. I’m considering pre-planning my funeral, and cost is important to me. How many different locations do you suggest I compare prices from before settling on one?

  39. Hannah Neilson February 6, 2018 Reply

    Comparing the pricing of a few different funeral homes seems like really good advice. It would be smart to consider this because it would ensure that you are going to find a place that will not put too much financial strain on your family. I’ve been thinking about planning my own funeral for a while now, so I’ll have to compare the prices of a few different funeral homes first.

  40. Hannah Neilson February 14, 2018 Reply

    Your advice about considering comparing a few different funeral homes based on price made a lot of sense to me. It would be smart to do so because this way, you could be sure that you are getting a good deal. I’ve been considering pre-planning my funeral home recently, so I’ll have to consider comparing their prices first.

  41. Bethany Birchridge March 8, 2018 Reply

    I found it surprising that you could buy your casket from companies other than a funeral home, and that funeral homes are required to allow you to use your own casket. When my mom died, I was very grateful to our funeral director and how much respect he showed the body. He also gave us the choice to help dress her up–something that helped us give our final goodbyes. Having a funeral is already difficult enough, so I believe that choosing the right funeral home with a thoughtful and caring staff is of utmost importance.

  42. Marcus Coons March 30, 2018 Reply

    I agree with you in that it is a good idea to compare the prices of several funeral homes. It is important to remember that doing this can help you find the best one for your needs. Personally, I would also want to check online reviews before choosing one.

  43. Ashley Turns April 25, 2018 Reply

    I like your suggestion to find a funeral service that will allow the costs to be covered by your insurance plan. Since my grandma just passed away, so we are wondering how to find the best price for her funeral services. We will be sure to get her memorial covered under our insurance plan.

  44. Funeral services June 4, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for going over some things to think about when looking for a funeral home…

  45. Carol Delves August 28, 2018 Reply

    I appreciate your website and its content. I question your advice to not purchase a funeral plan from the funeral home to avoid any undue headaches. As a disclaimer I work for a funeral home, however, on a personal level I have had to plan a funeral where the deceased did not make prearrangements and prepay, and when someone has. It was definitely much easier with the person who took the time to preplan and prepay. A prepaid funeral is a protected asset for Medicaid purposes. It also may guarantee the price of the funeral, casket and vault or cremation container and urn. At the time when someone passes, as you indicated, it is very stressful. Any decisions that can be made ahead of time is helpful. Prepaying relieves the family of the financial burden. As you noted, a funeral is not a minor expense. We plan for lifes major expenses – college, cars, weddings, etc. but often times this important piece is overlooked. As a side note about life insurance, if Medicaid is involved they may require that you liquidate that asset. Sometimes it can be protected but the laws are getting tighter in that regard. Also, any funds that you use to prepay should be secured with a third party, NOT placed in the funeral homes bank. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. Please be an informed consumer. Definitely sit down with funeral homes that you trust. Speak with a licensed prearrangement counselor and an elder law attorney.

    As my parents caregiver I visited (or tried to visit) three funeral homes in the area where my parents lived. Just going through this exercise will be eye opening. One place the doors were locked in the middle of the day and when I called and scheduled an appointment they did not show up. (This was a major funeral home!) Another one I just did not like the vibe. The one I chose made me feel well cared for. The director was informed and the atmosphere was calming. While price did play a part, and I did have a limited budget, I personally do not feel that price should be the ultimate reason you choose a funeral home. Good luck!

  46. Katie Wilson August 31, 2018 Reply

    I agree that you want to compare a few prices when choosing a funeral home. Finding out what kind of price a home charges would be really helpful. My husband and I are looking for a funeral home, so we’ll have to compare a few different prices first.

  47. http://sands-funeral.com/ October 11, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful insight about funeral homes. I’m very sure I learned a lot even about the Funeral Ceremony Order. I’ll be sticking around here most of the time.

  48. Taylor - Sands-Funeral October 11, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful insight about funeral homes. I’m very sure I learned a lot even about the Funeral Ceremony Order. I’ll be sticking around here most of the time.

  49. Katie Wilson October 18, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for the tip about comparing a few different prices when choosing a funeral home. It would be good to consider their qualifications as well as their prices. My husband and I need a funeral home for his mom, so we’ll have to consider their price first.

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