Things to consider when looking for a Funeral Director

A good Funeral Director ensures the whole process runs smoothly, helps a family think through their choices and is a source of expertise and comfort to help you at what can be a very difficult time.

The key services a Funeral Director provides are to:

  • Remove the deceased and look after them up until and on the day of the funeral
  • Dress the deceased and place them in a coffin
  • Help plan the ceremony
  • Arrange and supply the vehicles and bearers needed on the day of the service
  • Deal with the necessary legal documentation to allow the cremation or burial to go ahead
  • Make sure everything happens at the right time, in the right place and with the right people present.
  • Liaise with third parties on behalf of the bereaved.

Many Funeral Directors also have funeral arrangers who meet everyone who comes into the premises, explain the choices available to families and deal with the behind-the-scenes paperwork and telephone calls.

It is possible to pull together a funeral that’s an extraordinary, unique, personal and passion filled day of both remembrance and celebration. When you look back at a funeral you should not always consider it as a sad mourning of a loved one’s death but also remember it fondly as a celebration of a person’s life where you recalled memories of good times.

Despite funerals often costing many thousands of pounds, a recent survey by Royal London revealed that only 6% of people get a quote for a funeral from more than one Funeral Director. It is important to remember that you are the client and if a funeral director is unwilling to carry out a service to your wishes or if you have any doubts whatsoever about your Funeral Director, simply move on and look elsewhere. There will almost certainly be plenty in your local area and it may take a few meetings before you find a Funeral Director that you feel comfortable using.

Specific points to think about:

  • Take your time: Apart from some religions, there is no rush to carry the funeral out immediately. The only time restraint upon you is that of registering the death, which must take place within 5 working days of the death.
  • Know your budget: Be sensible. You can organize a very moving and meaningful funeral without having to spend a fortune on the bells and whistles. This is a huge expense, you should always ask for written quotes.
  • Be upfront if you have difficulty in meeting the funeral costs. It is a little-known fact that if you are in receipt of certain benefits you may be entitled to some assistance from the Government. There are several other different organisations that can help with these (including some energy suppliers, HMS Forces and some religious groups) and your Funeral Director should be able to point you in the right direction. It’s also worth asking if they can assist you with a more affordable option.
  • Listen to your instincts: Your Funeral Director should feel like the ‘right fit’ for you and your family, if you feel uncomfortable or they aren’t listening to your requests, look elsewhere.
  • Listen to other people’s recommendations. This is a service that you may not have had any dealings with previously.
  • Look for a fully guaranteed package that covers all aspects of a funeral or ask for a breakdown of all the costs involved and what’s included. What might seem like a reasonable charge may include many hidden extras.

    Things to look out for are:

Additional costs for visiting the deceased in the chapel of rest

Collection of the cremated remains

Care and preparation of the deceased

Transfer of the deceased out of hours, additional mileage etc.

Embalming

  • Ask for the breakdown of “other costs”, these will often refer to ‘Disbursements’ which are payments they make on your behalf to others i.e. Doctors, Crematoriums, Ministers. Are these included or extra?
  • Do they have an industry recognized qualification? This is an unregulated industry, so it is wise to find one that has been trained appropriately.
  • Ask where the deceased will be resting: Do they have a temperature-controlled environment. Some Funeral Directors will retain their deceased off site and their funeral home may just be an office.
  • Embalming: This not a strictly necessary procedure in this modern day. There are some instances where the procedure must occur for hygienic reasons, namely if the deceased is being repatriated from abroad or they are to be taken into a church or private residence before the funeral. All other times are by suggestion only i.e.; if the funeral is to be delayed by a family holiday for example. Never feel pressured into having this procedure carried out, and if it is suggested to you, ask for a clear explanation of the reasoning and the cost.
  • Are all of the services required? You could significantly lower costs by taking on some of the responsibilities yourself and you are not obliged to have a certain aspect of the Funeral Director’s services just because it may be seen as traditional to do so. For example, you may wish to use your own vehicles to travel to the service rather than use the Funeral Director’s limousines and despite modern belief, you do not even have to have the deceased arrive in a hearse if you feel it is unnecessary to do so and the Funeral Director may have an alternative suitable vehicle that is not as expensive to use.
  • Consider other areas of the service where you may be able to directly arrange things yourself: Many Funeral Directors use florists, printers or stonemasons because they receive a commission from them for supplying the business, it may well be more cost effective for you to use a supplier of your own (if you feel able to).