Perhaps your loved one is nearing death and you must find a funeral home quickly. Or you have decided to pick a funeral home for yourself long before it’s needed, to spare your family the ordeal of making this decision while grieving and pressed for time.

If you have used a funeral home in the past, don’t automatically assume it’s the best choice. Without comparing prices and services, you can’t tell whether their fees are reasonable, or you’ve been overcharged generation after generation.

Use this step-by-step guide to help you find the best funeral home for you and your family. By learning how to choose wisely, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and improve your overall satisfaction with the services you receive.

Consult your family and decide on a budget

Have you and your family discussed a budget, and decided on an amount that’s affordable for you—that you’re willing and able to spend without hardship? Shopping for a funeral should be like making any major purchase—you know what you can afford before you start shopping. Don’t make the mistake of buying a funeral the way many people do—accepting the funeral home’s price then scrambling to find the money.

Ask your family some specific questions. Do they have preferences about the type of final arrangement? If you are planning for a loved one, did he or she leave any written instructions? Have arrangements at a certain funeral home already been prepaid, perhaps years ago? Be sure to look for any documents that will help in the decision-making process before going forward.

Learn about your funeral rights

Next, review your rights as a funeral consumer. eziFunerals empowers you to understand your funeral rights to:

  • Get price information
  • Receive a written, itemised price list
  • Buy only the goods and services you want
  • Choose not to have embalming
  • Use an alternative container instead of an expensive coffin for cremation
  • Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, but before you pay

Weigh up your priorities

Ask yourself: How important is a convenient location? Do you prefer proximity to your home, place of worship, or cemetery? Is price a critical factor? How flexible is your budget? If you or your family used a funeral director in the past, how satisfied were you? Do you have special religious or cultural requirements? If you want a viewing or service, will you need a large facility with ample parking, high-tech video screens, or catering? Or is simplicity your first priority?

If both price and location are important, remember that most funeral homes will travel up to 70 kms to pick up the deceased without any extra charges. If the funeral home chapel will not be a gathering space for family, why choose the place closest to your home? Which is better—saving $1,000 or 30 minutes of driving time?

Choose the type of arrangement

  • You might donate your body to a medical school for research, which in some cases incurs no charge for survivors
  • Other very economical choices are “direct cremation” or “direct burial” with no embalming or visitation
  • You could consider a funeral service held at home
  • Green, or natural burial, in a shroud or simple box, can be very affordable and ecologically friendly
  • Perhaps you prefer a traditional earth burial with embalming, visitation and an elaborate funeral service

Whatever you decide, write down your wishes in detail. The arrangement choice is the biggest factor in helping you determine the best, and most reasonably-priced, funeral home for your needs.

Get a list and compare prices

First, check with eziFunerals to help you see compare of prices in your area. We can help you check the range of costs for your chosen arrangement, and pick out some affordable funeral directors. You may find a huge price difference for the same option, so doing a cost comparison might save you several thousand dollars. Often those specialising in cremation offer the lowest prices for that service, but not always—be sure to double check.

eziFunerals has a list of funeral directors online for you to view. We can get you multiple quotes. If a particular funeral director seems uncooperative, you can cross therm off your list. Do the costs fit within your budget? If not, you may have to consider a more affordable type of arrangement, look beyond your immediate area for lower prices, or eliminate extra expenses like embalming or visitation.

Narrow your choices

Keeping in mind your personal priorities, do further research. Visit the funeral homes’ websites. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for their experiences with any of your choices. You could also check online customer review sites, or ask eziFunerals if they have received any complaints about any of them. Then focus your attention on two or three of the most promising choices.

Visit several funeral homes

Make an appointment to visit those funeral homes if possible. Bring a list of questions and a friend or family member less emotionally invested in the funeral than you are. Ask the funeral home for their Price List and have the director review it with you. You might want to see an array of urns or caskets, ask about their billing policy, or meet the staff. Do you like the facility? Does the funeral director seem helpful and trustworthy, and answer questions willingly? Is he or she sensitive to your values and cultural or religious needs? Don’t select a funeral provider unless you feel completely comfortable with the funeral director and the premises.

Get quotes

Get quotes via eziFunerals, discuss your specific arrangement choices and ask for an itemised statement. It will list the goods and services you have chosen, the price of each item, and total cost. Do not sign anything yet. Take a copy of each statement home to review more carefully, then compare and discuss them with your family.

Make your decision

When you have thoroughly evaluated information from several funeral homes, choose the one you like best. If the funeral is imminent, call the funeral home to begin the arrangements. At this point, you could sign the contract and pay a deposit if required. But remember, never sign a contract for more than you or your family can afford to pay!

If you are prearranging your own funeral, do not be tempted to pay for it yet. There are different ways to pre-pay your funeral. Ask eziFunerals for assistance and your options.

Put your wishes in writing

If you are planning a funeral in advance of need, be sure to tell your loved ones about your decisions. eziFunerals online planner helps you write down your specific instructions and funeral home choice. Give copies of your instructions to your family members or close friends, lawyer, and/or spiritual advisor. Do not put your written plans only in your Will or safe deposit box—they might not be found and read until too late—after your funeral is over.

GET FUNERAL QUOTES

About eziFunerals

eziFunerals supports individuals and families coping with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.

Our member Funeral Directors operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. They are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.

For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.

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Peter Erceg is the Owner and Founder of eziFunerals. He has had a long history within the funeral industry, and is a published author of ‘What Kind Of Funeral: A self help guide to planning a meaningful funeral’. Prior to eziFunerals, Peter worked in the public sector and health industry for more than 30 years. The views and opinions expressed on posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eziFunerals and members.