10 Essential Funeral Planning Questions
Planning a funeral for a loved one is an emotional process that is likely to financially cost you as much as buying a car, paying for a wedding, or even making a down payment on a house. It is also something you get one chance at. Although you can always hold a memorial service for a loved one at a future date (or even exhume remains to have them buried elsewhere), for most people, the funeral is your last opportunity to say goodbye.
This is why it is so important to head into a funeral planning meeting with everything you need to make smart, informed decisions. In addition to having the support of someone you trust, we recommend you come equipped with these ten essential funeral planning questions.
- What are the burial/cremation options? Direct burial, direct cremation, green burial, traditional burial, combination cremation/burial interments, science donation…there are so many different ways to say goodbye to the remains of a loved one.
- What are costs associated with each choice? Ask to see a price list for services so you can compare and contrast each of your burial and cremation choices. Funeral homes are legally required to offer this, so they should always have the information at hand.
- Who is the funeral director? Some funeral homes just have one funeral director; others have several to choose from. Meet all of them and find somebody who feels like the right fit. This person will guide you through some of the most difficult decisions you will make, so it’s important that you feel comfortable.
- Where are the services taken care of? Are all the services (embalming, cremation, caskets, funeral procession escorts, etc.) provided on site, or are they handled by third-party vendors? It is a good idea to know where – and who – will be handling all the details.
- What funeral packages are offered? For ease and cost savings, it may be better to choose a funeral package rather than put it all together yourself. Look at the packages offered and decide if it is worth your time and money not to worry over the details.
- What’s the capacity of the facility? If you are expecting a large turnout for the funeral, make sure you know how many people the funeral home and/or cemetery allows as well as what kinds of permits may be required for such a large gathering.
- Is there a religious denomination/affiliation? Funeral homes are required to provide services to individuals from all cultures and religions, but some have more specific affiliations and options that might affect your own perspective. Ask in your community for references so you can find the appropriate fit.
- What are the payment options? These days, you can pre-plan (and pay for) a funeral, take out a burial insurance policy, get a line of credit to cover a funeral, or access a monthly payment plan—just to name a few. Make sure you understand all the final costs and how you will be asked to cover them.
- What if I change my mind? Always check funeral prepayment plan return policies and what your choices are if you (or your loved one) changes your mind later on down the road. Many of these policies are transferable, but not all are.
- What if the funeral home goes out of business? Funeral homes can and do go out of business, so it is a good idea to ask how long they have been in business and what happens to your funeral plans if they are no longer providing services when you need them.