Choosing a Funeral and Cremation Service Provider

After more than 50 years in this business, I know that a majority of families who meet me for the first time are in a very vulnerable state.

They’ve just lost a loved one or death is eminent. The prospect of planning these last arrangements can be daunting, confusing and even intimidating.

When I was a young man, just starting out in this business, I was fortunate to have mentors who taught me how to assist families in this state of mind. The bottom line is this: You have to listen with compassion and advise with ethical expertise.

With too great of frequency, we have read or heard stories that are contrary to this standard we’ve established at A.R.N. Cremation Services. High-pressure sales tactics and improprieties have no place in business in general and even less so within the funeral industry.

There are rules that have been established by the Federal Trade Commission that protect consumers. The so-called “Funeral Rule” provides that:

  • You may purchase a casket (or cremation urn) from anywhere you choose (including the big-box discount houses); you are not required to buy from the funeral home.
  • The funeral establishment must provide you with a general price list (GPL) and a casket price list (CPL) when you inquire in person.
  • Funeral establishments must give an itemized statement that includes only those items you selected when you contracted for services.
  • A funeral package statement must describe and include all goods and services. If you’re going to sign a contract, get a total dollar amount in writing first.

In addition, each state has its own licensure and inspection procedures. Those licenses should be predominately displayed and up-to-date.

As we’ve become increasingly aware, just because these rules are in place does not mean that they won’t be bent or broken. The best way to ensure you are treated with compassion and dignity is to get to know the funeral service professional before you need him or her. If that is not possible, there are a few questions that you may consider asking that can help determine your level of comfort.

1) How long have you been in the business? What licenses and memberships do you hold?

2) Why did you enter this business?

3) Is your mortuary locally and/or family owned or a chain?

4) (If you are considering cremation) Do you have an on-site crematory?

5) How do you charge for cremation/funeral services?

These are just a few things to consider. It is much like entering into a relationship with any other professional service provider like an attorney, an accountant or a physician. It is essential to establish a relationship that allows you to trust this person and, in turn, allows them to assist you.

September 10th 2011 |