10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Funeral Home

How do you know you have chosen the right funeral home to serve the needs of you or your family in a time of need? Maybe you have to choose a funeral home quickly, or maybe you are choosing a funeral home well in advance of when you would need it. Either way, this can be a difficult task. Many times when choosing a funeral home a family may rely on those who have helped them in the past. Don’t always assume that because your family has used the funeral home in the past that they are the best choice. Follow these steps in order to help you choose the best funeral home for you and your family. By learning how to choose the best funeral home, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and improve your overall satisfaction with the services you receive.

1. Decide on a budget

Deciding on a budget is one of the most critical aspects of planning a funeral. You and your family have to decide what is affordable without experiencing a hardship. Too often families do not plan their budget accordingly, plan funeral arrangements, sign the contract to accept pricing, only to find themselves scrambling for money. Make sure to know what you or your loved one wants for final arrangements as this will help you stay within budget. In the case of your loved one, check to see if they have prearranged services with another funeral home if so, contact the funeral home to get a copy of the prearrangements. Keep in mind that you are not bound to use the funeral home where the funeral arrangements were written. Preneed funeral arrangements can be transferred to any funeral home of your choice.

2. Know your funeral rights

As a funeral consumer know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule affirms you the right to the following:

  1. Getting price information over the telephone.
  2. Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.
  3. Get a written, itemized price list before you see the actual caskets.
  4. See a written outer burial container price list.
  5. Receive a written statement after you decide what you want and before you pay.
  6. Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes legal cemetery or crematory requirements.
  7. Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation.
  8. Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere.
  9. Make funeral arrangements without embalming.

3. Weigh your priorities

When choosing a funeral home ask yourself some questions.

  1. How important is the location for me?
    1. Do you want the location to be close to your home or church?
    2. Do you want the location to be in close proximity of the cemetery?
  2. Is the price of the services and merchandise a critical factor?
  3. How does the funeral home rate from other families experiences?
  4. Does the funeral home meet your religious requirements?
  5. Does the funeral home have ample space to allow for a service and visitation, and will they accommodate the hours that I am requesting?
  6. In regards to parking, will space meet the requirements of the guest I am expecting?
  7. Does the funeral home have video screens or other multimedia for use during the visitation?

4. Choosing the type of arrangements

  • Will the body be donated to a medical school for research?
  • What type of service are you or your family interested in?
    • Burial Service
    • Direct Cremation
    • Traditional Cremation
    • Direct Burial
    • Graveside
    • Memorial Service

Remember whatever services are chosen, be sure to write them down and discuss them with the funeral director who assists you. If you have questions about the different types of services make sure you ask.

5. Compare prices

Comparing prices for funeral services and merchandise is no different than comparing prices for any other good or service you purchase. We know choosing a funeral home is often based on loved ones use in the past, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compare their pricing against other funeral homes in the area. Check with your local Funeral Consumers Alliance to see if they have a survey of the pricing. This will save you much time. Contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance for the Central Carolinas at P.O. Box 26507 Charlotte, NC 28221, phone: 704-996-4524 or by email at funeralconsumersalliancecc@gmail.com. Don’t forget that you can contact funeral homes and get their pricing over the phone, or you can go to their facility to receive their general price list. If you find a particular funeral director who seems uncooperative, mark the funeral home off of your list. Make sure you eliminate expenses that are not needed for your service request.

6. Narrow your choices

Once you have answered questions about the location, pricing, service needs, etc. begin to narrow down your choices. Once you have a narrowed list, make appointments with funeral directors on your list. This will give you a chance to meet with the staff that will be assisting you with arrangements and view their facility. Be sure to check their reviews online as this will be consumer responses to the services and goods they have received. Also, check again with your local Funeral Consumers Alliance to see if they have received any complaints about the funeral home you are visiting.

7. Visiting the funeral home of your choice

With your narrowed list and appointments ready, visit the funeral homes you have chosen. Be sure, however, you bring a list of questions that you may have. These are important, since often when you meet with a funeral director, you may forget important questions until after the meeting has ended. Here are some typical questions you may want to ask:

  1. Ask for a general price list and have the funeral director review it with you so you can have a clear understanding.
  2. Ask about the funeral homes billing policy. What types of payments are accepted?
  3. Ask to meet the staff.
  4. Ask to have a tour of the facilities.
  5. Ask about merchandise for remembrances.
  6. Ask about scheduling services, are there certain times or days of the week that are better than others?
  7. Ask about using another facility such as a church for a visitation or service.

8. Get a quote

If you know the specific services and merchandise you are looking for ask the funeral director for a written quote. Keep in mind that since you are asking for a quote, and that prices could change if there is a length of time until the service, see how long the quote is good for. Be sure that after you have visited the list of funeral homes that you take all of your quotes and compare them along with your visiting experience to see which funeral home best fits your needs.

9. Making a decision

Once you have reviewed all of your information, you are now ready to make an informed decision. Whether you are preplanning for services or need at-need care, you are able to decide which funeral home will suit you and your family. You are now able to make firm arrangements with the funeral home.

10. Putting you or your loved one’s wishes in writing

Write down all of your wishes and keep them in a secure place. Be sure to let others know what you want as well. Give copies to family members who will take care of you or your loved one’s wishes, give them to your lawyer, or pastor/spiritual advisor.  Be certain not to put them somewhere that they can’t be found, such as and safe deposit box or only in your Will. They might not be found until it is too late – after your funeral is over.


For more information from Ellington Funeral Services, please call us at 704-334-6700 or email us at info@ellingtonfuneralservices.com.

Here are some other resources of interest to help you make informed decisions regarding funeral arrangements:

Funeral Consumers Alliance

Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information, The Funeral Rule

Planning a funeral? Know your rights.


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Carl McEwen Ellington Sr.

President of Ellington Funeral Services


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Derek W. Hunter

Sr. Funeral Director

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