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Choosing a funeral director

Advice on choosing a funeral director.

Many families use the same funeral director ('funeral homes' in the US) which has organised the funeral of previous family members. There are obvious advantages such as shared knowledge, trust and understanding.

If you haven't used a funeral director before, or were not satisfied with a company, go to the websites of the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors to find the names of member companies close to where you live, or where the funeral will take place.

You then need to appoint the most suitable funeral director, and the more information you have when discussing the service you require, the more likely you are to purchase the most appropriate funeral at the best price.

Things to help your decision

These are the considerations when choosing the funeral director:

  • Previous experience in dealing with other loved ones' funerals;
  • Membership of trade bodies, particularly the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Association of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors; 
  • Independent recommendations and letters of gratitude;
  • The right 'chemistry' when first dealing with the people who will support you during the process;
  • Breadth of advice - understanding of needs of the non-religious, ability to deliver alternative funerals;
  • Administering donations to suitable good causes;
  • Costs - cheapest is not normally the best as you are paying for professional expertise and experience;
  • Relationships with a wide range of celebrants: humanist; civil; interfaith; various faiths and Christian denominations.

The costs are calculated by assessing the necessary disbursements and professional fees for providing the type of funeral requested.

You can ask to see all the cost headings and professional fees that make up the amount the funeral will cost.

We have created a funeral planning checklist to help you get the best service from the funeral director you commission.

The Good Funeral Guide gives excellent advice, and Which? have brought out a useful publication.

Consider pre-paid plans

If you are worried by the costs you or your family members will incur to pay for the funeral, you should consider a pre-paid funeral plan. These have the benefits of being:

  • Inflation proofed;
  • Paid up front either in one payment or instalments;
  • Transferable - a funeral plan will be honoured wherever you (or the person whose funeral is being paid for) die;
  • Controlled - if you pay, your wishes will be carried out, not the wishes of other family members.


My Last Song recommends that you spend time planning your own funeral or that of a loved one before it is needed.  Discuss your wishes with your selected funeral director.

In the funeral trade these inquiries are known as 'pre-need' and are welcome because more time can be taken with making the important decisions.

We have produced a helpful list of wishes, which will help guide your discussions.

Once you have made your funeral wishes, put them in your Lifebox. Only you can open your Lifebox to make changes, and on your death (or when you permit), only the second key holder (we recommend your executor or next of kin) is allowed access.

They will then know your funeral wishes, including the funeral director you have chosen.

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