Why Do Funeral Homes Close?
If you have ever shopped for a funeral home, you probably noticed that many of them make some mention of how long they have been in the business (and in the community). There is something about an establishment that has been serving the same area for 20, 50, or even 100 years that makes us feel good about giving them our business—especially when it comes to pre-planning a funeral. After all, we want some kind of guarantee that the funeral home will continue to be there when we need their services.
However, funeral homes are businesses like any other, and they do experience occasional closures. These may be ordinary business decisions, or they may be due to circumstance. Here are a few of the more common reasons why some funeral homes eventually shut their doors.
- Purchased/Sold: In the past, almost all funeral homes were owned and operated by local families, many of whom kept the business running from generation to generation. Today, however, many of these homes are purchased by a larger corporation, which absorb them into their overall chain of funeral homes.
- Location: Funeral homes tend to be very community-oriented businesses, which means they largely serve the people who live and work directly around them. If the part of the city where they are located experiences a shift (the population turns younger, the neighborhoods close to make way for businesses, new developments take place), the funeral home may choose to close, move, or consolidate several funeral homes into one.
- Moving: Funeral homes occasionally pick up and move for reasons other than the neighborhood. For example, they may need newer, up-to-date facilities. They may wish to build an attached crematorium or cemetery. They may also be forced out when a lease or rental agreement is up.
- Finances: As is the case with many industries in this economy, there is always a chance that a funeral home will go bankrupt or make a decision to close as a necessary financial move. Although unfortunate, this is a reality in the funeral industry.
- Legal Issues/Loss of Permits: The most rare (but most publicized) reason for a funeral home to close is because of some kind of law being broken in the care and disposition of human remains. These instances are almost always a shock to the entire community – both to residents and to other funeral homes in the area.
What to Do if a Funeral Home Closes?
You do have rights if the funeral home you have chosen closes prematurely or without contacting you first. Although you should always be sure to read the fine print of any contract to make sure there is a contingency plan in place ahead of time, you can also contact your county service provider or a lawyer to make sure that any arrangements are transferred over to the new facility or that you receive compensation for the canceled service.
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By Amy Johnson