Why Funeral Directors?
If you are arranging a funeral, you are in charge. The person who has died is your responsibility. By law, you must do certain things which a funeral director is not allowed to do. You must register the death. You must apply for cremation or burial. You must see it all through and you must demonstrate that you did.
Funeral directors undertake to do those other jobs, and only those other jobs, that you are allowed to delegate to them. That’s why they are called undertakers.
What Needs to be done?
When someone dies their body must be looked after until it can be transported and, to use the “official” word, disposed of by burial or cremation. There is paperwork attached to this. You do not have to hold a funeral. If you don’t want to have one, find out about direct cremation below.
You can engage a funeral director to do all or some of these jobs for you.
A funeral director will be able to put you in touch with other service providers — a celebrant, a florist, a caterer. A funeral director is also allowed to do a certain amount of paperwork for you and pay certain bills (disbursements, they call them) on your behalf. These include fees to doctors, celebrant, organist, and crematorium or burial ground.
Remember: funeral directors are in business to make money. Treat the transaction the same as you would that with any service provider. Check all terms and conditions carefully. You are protected by consumer protection laws.
The Right Funeral Director for you
A funeral director is, basically, an event organizer. A really good funeral director will guide you through unfamiliar territory, make suggestions and help you create a send-off for the person who has died which will be, both, worthy of that person and, also, of immeasurable emotional value to you. Of all the services a funeral director offers, this is the one with far and away the highest value. Some are brilliant at it.
In addition, an undertaker will be able to put you in touch with other service providers – a celebrant, a florist, a caterer. He or she is allowed to do a certain amount of paperwork for you and pay certain bills (disbursements, they call them) on your behalf. These include fees to doctors, celebrant, organist, and crematorium or burial ground.
More funeral directors than you might think are brilliant; some are are awful. When searching for a good funeral director, don’t bother looking for professional qualifications. Many of the very best have none. It really doesn’t matter.
Personal Qualities Matter Most
The person who you are looking for is someone like you: someone who will listen to you, understand you, see where you’re coming from and interpret your needs and wishes.
The right funeral director for one person may not necessarily be the right funeral director for someone else. You have to make a subjective judgment. Go with your gut feeling.
We have selected funeral directors who, we think, try hardest to get alongside their clients, give them all the time they need and do their best for them. The reviews are written in a way which ought to enable you to answer the only question that matters: “Is this my sort of person?”.
Who’s the Cheapest?
Value for money can only be measured by the value you place on the funeral as an event. The more important this is to you, the more important it is to find exactly the right funeral director, and that funeral director might not be the cheapest. However, a highly attractive paradox of the funeral industry is that the best funeral directors are often the cheapest. A funeral cost comparison survey conducted in January 2010 by IPSOS Mori for the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors found that on average in England, Scotland and Wales, the larger chains of funeral directors are consistently more expensive, independents are better valued. The majority of funeral directors registered with Compare the Coffin .com are independently or family-run funeral directors.
Many branches of funeral chains trade under the name of the undertaker who sold out to the chain. They look like family businesses but they’re not — because they know that people don’t like big chains. When ringing around for quotes, always ask about ownership. Any business which answers to you, not to shareholders or venture capitalists, is likely to be the better.
If Money is Real Issue for you
If you are in a financially difficult position you may be eligible for a payment from the Social Fund. It won’t cover the complete cost of the funeral and it is very hard to get. Citizens Advice offer good guidance here.