David Parente
CDFDA President
Albany, NY
Phone: (518) 489-0188

Choosing a Funeral Home

When a loved one dies, what are the reasons the family use in the selection of a funeral home? Years ago, the decision may have been based solely on “family tradition”. They may naturally turn to the funeral home which was involved in the burial or cremation of earlier generations of the family.

Things have changed. Thanks to the Internet, today’s families have immediate access to the information they need to make different choices, based on their needs (not on those of their parents or grandparents). But, as everyone knows, sometimes too much information can cloud your thinking–especially when emotions run rampant after the loss of someone dear to you.

The members of the Capital District Funeral Directors Association put together this checklist to assist you in choosing a funeral home.  

Determine if your loved one already has a pre-arranged funeral plan. If so, that document will guide you in the selection of the funeral home.

If no such document exists, it’s time to use the resources you have, including:

•    The Internet
•    Friends, Co-workers, and Extended Family
•    Social Review Sources: Yelp, Google
•    The Telephone

Get connected to the Internet, and complete a search for funeral homes in your community. Use a basic search string such as “funeral homes in…” (naming the location). Write down the names of the funeral homes in the top search results.

Members of the Capital District Funeral Directors Association are committed to providing families with a higher standard of funeral and cremation services. That’s why you should compare that list to those funeral firms found in our Membership Directory.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau to determine if there are any complaints against these firms.

Visit each of their websites. Review the information there closely. Get a feel for their approach to funeral service. Check for images of their facility to see if the funeral home is a place you’d like to spend time in. Read staff biographies, if provided. And if pricing is a major concern for your family, review the details on funeral costs, if provided.

Check in with your network.  Offline, you may benefit from calling those you know who have had dealings with a funeral home recently. Listen to, and write down, everyone’s recommendations.

Contact the funeral homes on your “short list” directly, either by phone, or in-person. We advise asking the following questions:

•    Are you locally owned?
•    How long have you been in business?
•    What services are available?
•    What are the basic costs?
•    What is the actual cost of the specific services I need?
•    What options are available to customize the funeral service?

The Funeral Rule, a regulation of the Federal Trade Commission, requires that all funeral establishments provide pricing information both on the phone, and in-person. If the funeral home in question refuses to discuss pricing over the phone, they are in violation of the regulation. They are also in violation if they do not provide you with a General Price List of all goods and services when you visit.

When you narrow down your choices, and are ready to take the next step in making funeral arrangements make sure to obtain:

•    A copy of their General Price List (GPL)
•    A copy of their Casket and Urn price lists (if not part of the GPL)

And after the arrangements are made, you’ll need to have a copy of the Memorandum of Charges, which itemizes all merchandise and services purchases.

We know that choosing a funeral home is a critical part of the compassionate care of your loved one, and we hope this information and guidance will help with your decisions.