How to Choose a Funeral Director
A guide to the services offered by funeral directors, including information on trade associations and advice on finding the right funeral director for you
Photo by Joe Houghton on Flickr
This guide to choosing a funeral director explains what funeral directors do and provides advice on the services and support they can offer you, including guidance on how to choose the right funeral director for you.
What does a funeral director do?
A funeral director can help you arrange the funeral service and burial or cremation for your loved one when they die, allowing you to focus on remembering them. Many funeral directors can also arrange natural burial, celebrations of life and any other personal touches you require. A good funeral director will also provide compassionate and respectful advice and support in every aspect of looking after your loved one when they die, from registering their death to installing a memorial.
Funeral directors can be especially helpful if you don’t know what happens at a funeral. This advice and support is why choosing the right funeral director is so important.
Why should you shop around for funeral director?
Many people assume that they need to choose a funeral director quickly, but it is important to remember that, unless you have a cultural or religious requirements, there is actually no rush to arrange your loved one's funeral.
The range of services and costs offered by funeral directors can be very diverse, so taking enough time to compare a range of funeral directors will ensure you make the right decision and create the perfect send off for your loved one. Most funeral directors offer a range of different packages that include particular services and products.
Many funeral directors now offer a simple funeral package which will usually include the services of the funeral director, care of the person who has died, a coffin, and chauffeured hearse to a crematorium or other venue for the service. This can offer a more cost effective option for those families that have a tight budget. Any services usually provided by a third-party, such as floral arrangements, are likely to be an additional cost.
More expensive funeral packages might include higher-quality coffins, additional transport for the funeral procession and third-party services. You can find out about funeral costs in our guide.
It is also a good idea to choose a funeral director that is a member of the National Association for Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). These organisations ensure that all of their members adhere to strict codes of conduct, complaints-procedures and price transparency policies that ensure you will receive a high level of service.
A step-by-step guide to choosing a funeral director
- Find funeral directors in your area
- Identifying all of the funeral directors in your area and the difference services, packages and prices that they can offer you allows you to see the range of choice available to you.
- Decide the type of funeral you want to arrange for your loved one.
- If you know that your loved one would have preferred a green funeral and natural burial then you can focus on funeral directors who provide these services. It can be helpful to find out more about burial, cremation and green funerals and celebrations of life before searching for a funeral director so you know what is available to you.
- Decide the services that you would like a funeral director to help you with As well as arranging funerals, funeral directors can also help you complete paperwork, such as registering a death, organise a memorial for your loved one, such as choosing a headstone or memorial jewellery, and find bereavement support. If you are happy to do these things yourself you should make sure that you are not paying for a package that includes services you do not need. If you would like some help with these things it is also important to know that your chosen funeral director can provide it.
- Read reviews of funeral directors from other bereaved people.
- If you have never had to arrange a funeral before it can be difficult to know how to decide if a funeral director is right for you. Reading reviews of funeral directors written by other bereaved people.
- Meet with funeral directors before deciding to arrange a funeral with them
- Comparing funeral directors and reading reviews of their services can be very helpful, but it is still a good idea to discuss your options with them in person. Most good funeral directors will be happy to discuss your options at their local branch or even come to you.
Here are some questions you should consider asking a funeral director before making a decision. Questions you should ask a funeral director:
- What type of funerals can you arrange?
- Do you provide funeral packages, or does everything have to be arranged separately?
- What is the cost of your funeral packages?
- What is included in your funeral packages; do you offer a "simple funeral" and how does it differ from other packages?
- Are your funeral packages better value than arranging everything separately?
- Can additional options, such as alternative funeral transport, be added to a package?
- How much of the cost of the funeral goes to third parties, such as florists?
- Can we purchase coffins, flowers and other elements from different providers or do we have to use your suppliers?
- Do we have to pay a deposit and if so, how much is it?
- When do we have to pay the balance of the funeral?
- What happens if we decide to use a different funeral director at any point?
- What happens if you cannot fulfil your obligations, or have to change the date of the funeral; can we choose a different funeral director and be reimbursed for the deposit?
- Have you previously arranged similar funerals to what we have requested?
- Are there any aspects of arranging this funeral that might be challenging for you, or that there might be difficulties with?
- Can you suggest alternative ideas that might be more manageable, affordable and in accordance with our loved one's wishes?
Where can you find a funeral director?
You can compare funeral directors in your local area and read independent, verified reviews of their services on Funeral Guide. Once you have chosen a funeral director, you should schedule a meeting with them to discuss their services before asking them to collect your loved one.