If you intend to use the services of a funeral director like those at Lee Adam Funeral Services to coordinate the burial arrangements of a loved one, it is recommended that you interview several service providers (personally, where possible) before making a final decision. In addition, bring along someone else, preferably someone close to you but who wasn't too close to the dead person to serve as an objective party.
As you conduct your search, the following is a useful checklist you can use in the interviewing process:
1. Disposal alternatives
You have a number of options to dispose of your loved one's body, apart from the conventional cremation or earth burial. For instance, you can opt for above-ground burials in mausoleums or donation of the body to medical schools for anatomy studies. Talk to the funeral director about all the possibilities.
2. Price list
Even if you're given packages, ask for a pricing schedule to see a breakdown of costs for each product/service. Ideally, you should go through this schedule before seeing the actual products so that your objectivity remains.
If you're doing it in person, you should see the price schedule for caskets and outer containers for instance (some local laws require an outer container to cover the burial casket). If on phone, the funeral home is obligated to give you pricing information. You can also request for a price list of be mailed to you (this is not a requirement by law).
3. Basic costs
Many people are not comfortable with bargaining or comparing prices when it comes to a loved one's funeral arrangements. However, if you make a few calls you may find dramatic difference in pricing between funeral homes.
Every home should have a basic package for the most common parts of any funeral, usually planning, taking care of legal documents (burial permits and death certificates), putting up a death notice, body storage and coordination between church, crematorium/cemetery and any other locations. You should know exactly which services are included in a basic send-off package.
5. Overhead costs
Apart from basic fees, there may be other charges for the funeral director's time and other overheads. These should be written down and given to you for your perusal. Some of these costs include embalming, direct cremation, transferring bodies between funeral homes, immediate burials, use of their facilities (for viewing, the funeral ceremony or memorial service), provision of a hearse, purchase of casket etc.
Every item charged must be mentioned in your pricing schedule, and you can enlist someone's help to compare different items.
6. Financial aid
Being in contact with death and the required arrangements on a daily basis, a funeral director is the best person to ask about any financial assistance if you cannot afford a proper send-off for your loved one. They should be able to give you information on aid from state, local or national sources depending on what you qualify for according to your specific circumstances.Share