How to choose a Funeral Director that’s right for you

Funeral Planning
funeral director

Whether you're planning ahead or find yourself in a situation where you need to make funeral arrangements quickly after a loved one passes away, choosing a funeral director is one of the first decisions you'll have to make.

We've put this guide together to walk you through the process, as well as give you some ideas for what to consider when choosing a funeral director. This is an important decision to make because it can affect your finances, your sense of wellbeing during a difficult time, and how your loved one is remembered.

Step 1. Determine any funeral intentions

When selecting a funeral director, understanding your loved one's funeral wishes will make the funeral planning process smoother.

Your loved one may have specified a preferred funeral director or, at the very least, offered some information about the type of funeral they wanted.

The first place to start is to find out if your loved one specified any funeral wishes. Funeral instructions or intentions are often spelt out in a Will or an Advance Care Directive, Advance Health Directive, or other estate planning document. They might have also filled out a separate funeral intentions form that's kept with the Will.

Check if your loved one had a pre-paid funeral plan or purchased a burial plot in advance. Notify the service provider about their passing and enquire about the services that are covered.

Step 2. Consider your loved one’s funeral wishes

If your loved one did not have a pre-paid funeral plan or no funeral desires were expressed, you may be wondering, "How do I find the right funeral director?"

It can be tough to prepare a funeral alone, so enlist the support of those who were closest to the one you've lost. If you are not the person's next of kin, speak with their relatives.

Step 3: Make a list of what’s important

Planning a funeral for a deceased loved one is a final opportunity to honor their life and celebrate all they meant to people who cared about them. mAs a result, the departed person's principles and beliefs should be reflected in the funeral.

Make a list of what is essential to everyone with the help of the person’s immediate family. This will assist you in determining how to select the best funeral director.

Decide on the style of funeral ceremony that would be most appropriate to honor your loved one's values, beliefs, and passions together:

  • Is it going to be a burial, a memorial or an unattended cremation with a separate memorial? If money is an issue, a burial may be ruled out based on the area, as the cost of a burial can vary greatly depending on the amount of land available.

  • Should any religious or cultural components be included? Is it more proper to have a non-traditional funeral service?

  • Are there any individualized features that would best celebrate what your loved one cherished? Consider colors, music, meals, sports, hobbies and fandoms, for example.

  • The location of the service and the final resting place — whether a burial site or what to do with cremated ashes — are also important considerations.

  • You'll want to choose a funeral director who is prepared to work with you on your requirements, especially if they're a little out of the ordinary.

Step 4. Set a funeral budget

Many of the decisions your family will have to make as you prepare to say goodbye to a loved one will be heavily influenced by your feelings. As a result, we urge that you and your family talk about money up-front and agree on a budget.

We’ve created this free funeral budget template for you to make the process a little easier.

Most funeral homes need payment before or shortly after the funeral so that they can pay suppliers and other expenses on your behalf.  Choosing which family members are best suited to make those payments is often your first financial decision. Of course, they usually do so with the idea that they will be reimbursed by the estate later (the bank will release monies from the deceased's bank accounts upon production of a funeral invoice).

When it comes to choosing a funeral director, many people take the first fee they are given without realizing they have alternative options. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to families struggling to pay their bills during an already tough emotional period.

Knowing how much your family can afford to spend on a funeral service not only prevents financial hardship, but it also helps your family choose the right funeral home for you. If a funeral home offers to help you fulfil your loved one's wishes while staying within your budget, that's a very good sign. 

Before visiting a funeral home, ask around the family and go over all of the paperwork and written instructions given by the person who's died. As we mentioned earlier, if they've made prepaid arrangements with a funeral home or purchased a burial site, for example, you'll want to be ready to accommodate that in your plans. We've heard instances of families who didn't realize a funeral was already paid for until it was too late — something to avoid if at all possible.

Step 5: Shop around for the right funeral director

You may end up with a number of solutions that appear to meet the needs of your family. At this point, reduce the list to two or three companies that offer the best combination of services, reputation and pricing. There's only so much you can learn about a funeral home's features by reading about them, which leads us to the next point.

To get started, you can compare funeral homes in the US here.

Step 6: Choose a funeral director you trust

If you're thinking about how to choose the appropriate funeral director, it's critical to choose someone you can trust to create a service that genuinely honors your loved one's life in the best way possible.

We recommend calling them as it's usually a good idea to chat with the company and the funeral directors themselves to establish confidence. Even better, talk to a few people at the company to get a clear idea of the customer service standard. If you don't feel like you're in the greatest hands, keep looking until you're satisfied that you're making the best decision.

Step 7: If pre-planning, make your plans official

An increasing number of people are opting to make their own pre-paid funeral arrangements. Most people believe that this will relieve their family's financial and mental burdens once they die. This is a wise and considerate decision that your family will undoubtedly appreciate as they begin their healing journey after you die.

If you decide to go this route, make sure you write down your ideas and share them with the appropriate family members. This will ensure that your wishes are fulfilled and that all arrangements go according to plan.

Preparing to say farewell

We've covered how to choose a funeral director that’s right for you, including the important steps that you need to make prior to meeting with them. 

Choosing a funeral director is never easy, and on top of that, there are multiple things you need to take care of in a short period of time to ensure the funeral is planned out properly. 

We hope this guide will help with planning your loved one's funeral and that you find some practical advice to prepare you to say farewell.