Funeral directors: how to choose the right one?

When seeking the service of a funeral director you’re likely at your most vulnerable, which is a time where the seeking of commercial services, or the undertaking of practically any task at all, can seem rather intimidating.

So how do you choose the right funeral director for what can be nothing short of the last and most important task that you can be entrusted to organise for a loved one? Well here we tell you step by simple step.

First and foremost: Notifying the authorities of the death

You may notify the authorities of the death either before or after you get in touch with the Funeral Directors (although the Funeral Directors will need to see the Death Certificate when you have it). If the person has died within hospital or a hospice then there will be a registrar’s office within the building; if the person has passed outside of such institutions however it will be your local registration office that you will need to visit. This process must be undertaken within 5 days.

What services do funeral directors provide?

The Funeral Director should be seen as a person who is there to relive you from the burden of funeral arrangements. They will ask all of the questions necessary and consult with you as to specific wishes for your loved one’s last journey.

The services that funeral directors provide will undoubtedly differ from company to company, however generally speaking these services will include the following services within even the most basic of funeral packages:
  • The arranging of all of the necessaries for the funeral, such as the filling in of any required forms
  • The transportation of the body to the funeral director's premises
  • Taking care of the person who has passed until the funeral. This will include washing and dressing, although it probably won’t include embalming
  • The provision of a hearse to transport the body to the crematorium or burial ground
  • The staff to look after the coffin and transport and carry it on the day
  • A coffin
  • The services that you may choose to pay additional charges for include:

  • Flowers
  • A more upmarket coffin
  • Notices for the newspaper
  • A medical certificate for the cremation, if required
  • An organist, musicians, bagpiper, harpist or singer for the service
  • Additional cars
  • Embalming
  • Alternative Hearses (such as Horse Drawn Carriages or Motor Bikes)
  • Celebrants for NON religious services
  • Fees for the church/religious service
  • A few important pointers when choosing a funeral director’s services

    Today there are in excess of 5,000 funeral directors within the UK, which can make the process of choosing a funeral director that little bit more confusing. Just a few of the major funeral directors within the marketplace include: The Co-Op, The co-Op regional Funeral Directors (such as Co-Op Central) Funeral Partners, Dignity Funerals and Saga.

    However choosing funeral director shouldn't be a matter of judging a book by the cover of their super shiny marketing materials. Instead there are a few well-placed pointers to consider, which we delve into next.

    The average cost of a funeral

    The average cost of a funeral service within the UK currently stands at £3,456, which accounts for a figure that has risen by 80% over the past decade (The Guardian 2014). Beyond the basic funeral costs however are also the ‘extras’ that include flowers, wreaths, catering, venue hire and the additional services that we've outlined above.

    Why smaller funeral directors may not be all that small

    Whilst your local funeral director may appear to be a one man band so to speak, in actuality they could very well be a part of a larger company. This may be due to their being part of a network, or it may be that a smaller, localised business has been taken over by the larger funeral directors, but that remains trading with the same staff and under the same, smaller business’ name. In any event this can very often mean that you are provided with a more personal service as opposed to dealing with the larger of businesses that may be relatively faceless in comparison.

    A sensitive industry that lacks regulation

    To many the fact that the funeral director industry is free from any regulation whatsoever may be surprising, however this is and always has been the case, and so the onus for delivering high quality service is completely upon the service provider. That said you can look out for a few pointers as to the company’s reliability, such as their on-line reputation through review sites, as well as their membership to certain associations and the signing up to that particular association's code of conduct.

    The importance of being a member to a funeral directors association

    There are a plethora of funeral director associations in existence today, and each is defined by a differing set of values and codes of conduct to which members must adhere. This is then very much the best indicator of the quality of service that you may receive from a funeral directors.
    Here follows a summary of the main associations to look out for:

    NAFD

    The National Association of Funeral Directors represents in excess of 3,700 UK funeral homes. They aim to provide comprehensive support and guidance to funeral firms and the bereaved families that they look after.
    National Association of Funeral Directors, 618 Warwick Road, Solihull, B91 1AA
    Visit the NAFD website

    The National Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)

    The National Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors, SAIF Business Centre, 3 Bullfields, Sawbridgeworth, Herts, CM21 9DB
    Visit the SAIF website

    Green Funeral Directors Association

    The Green Funeral Directors Association has three major aims:
    1. To help members of the public in finding funeral homes that adhere to greener standards;
    2. To encourage funeral directors to become more green-minded and focused;
    3. To give donations to charities which the board votes for each year.

    The Green Funeral Directors Association, Lion Farm, Rawling Street, Milstead, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME9 0RT
    Visit the Green Funeral Directors Association website

    The British Institute of Funeral Directors

    The British Institute of Funeral Directors gives consumers the assurance that when they choose one of their members for funeral services, that they will receive a competent and qualified practitioner. Members for his association must meet stringent training conditions and attend courses that are accredited by the University of Greenwich, gaining 60 Credits at Level 4 (the highest level for this type of course).

    The British Institute of Funeral Directors, National Office, North House, 5 Parkins Close, Colliers End, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG11 1ED
    Visit the British Institute of Funeral Directors website

    The Funeral Services Guide is a complete website that is dedicated to helping those making the difficult decisions for taking care of their loved one’s final journey as free from issues as it can be. We are here to guide, educate and inform and ensure that every one of our visitors understand the choices before them, and how they can choose the right funeral director who will meet all of their needs… whatever they may be.