How do you choose a funeral director? It’s not always easy – especially if you need to plan a funeral quickly. But it’s well worth taking a little time to find a funeral director you’re comfortable with and who can plan the service you want.
This article should make things a little simpler. Consider it a checklist for choosing a funeral director who fits your needs and budget. We’ll also show you how to find a good funeral director in your area.
Choosing a funeral director
Follow these steps to help you choose a funeral director:
- Check if the person left instructions
- Check if the person had a funeral plan
- Decide if you want to use a funeral director
- Compare prices
- Look for reviews and recommendations
- Check their location
- Ask questions
- Check if the funeral director is NAFD or SAIF-registered
- Make sure you feel comfortable
We’ll take you through each of these steps and what you need to do.
Remember: even if you’ve used a funeral director to collect the person who has died, you don’t have to use this funeral director to organise the funeral for you. You still have time to look into other options and change funeral director if you need to. Learn more.
Check if the person left instructions
The person who has died may have left instructions for their funeral. They could tell you what kind of funeral they wanted, where it should be held and even which funeral director to use.
You should try to find these instructions.
The person might have written them down on a piece of paper or simply told someone about them. Or they could be included in their will.
Here are some ways to find them:
- Ask close friends and family members. The person who has died may have shared their final wishes with them or told them about a will.
- Check drawers and bookshelves. They might have left the document in a safe place.
- Ask the person’s bank or solicitor if there’s a will. They may have copies of it.
- Search the National Will Register. You can do this online for a fee.
Bear in mind that you’re not required by law to follow a person’s funeral instructions, even if they’re in a will. If you disagree with them or can’t afford to follow them you’re free to make different choices for the funeral.
Check if the person had a funeral plan
A funeral plan lets you pre-pay for a funeral before you die, so your family won’t have to worry about funeral costs.
The person who has died may have had a funeral plan with a specific funeral director. If so, it’s probably simplest to use this funeral director instead of making new arrangements.
Currently, there’s no easy way to check if a person had a funeral plan. Your best bets are to look for documentation or call some popular funeral plan providers. Here’s a list of providers that are currently authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Decide if you want to use a funeral director
The person who has died might have asked for a specific funeral director. You may decide to honour this wish, but you don’t have to. You’re free to choose another funeral director or even arrange the funeral yourself without using a funeral director.
This kind of funeral is sometimes called a ‘DIY funeral’ or ‘family-led funeral’. It can be hard work, but you’ll have complete control over the funeral and save on funeral director fees.
If you decide to use a funeral director, you’ll pay more but have less to worry about. They’ll help you do things like make arrangements, handle paperwork and look after the body.
Most people choose to use a funeral director. It’s quite rare for someone to arrange a funeral without any help.
Funerals can be quite expensive. In 2022, the average cost for a funeral was £3,953 (SunLife 2023) – and that doesn’t include things like venue hire, flowers and transport.
Sometimes people feel pressured to spend more than they’d like. But you don’t have to. There are lots of ways to save money while still arranging a fitting send-off for the person who has died.
One way is to compare funeral director fees. After all, funeral directors are like any other service provider – some charge more than others. Doing a quick price comparison could save you hundreds of pounds.
You can use our search tool to find one that suits your budget. Simply enter your postcode to see a list of local funeral directors, as well as prices for attended and unattended funerals.
Look for reviews and recommendations
It’s hard to know how to choose a good funeral director unless you’ve used one before. That’s why it’s a good idea to get recommendations from people who have.
You could start by asking friends and family members. If they’ve used a funeral director and had a good experience, they’ll usually be happy to point you in the right direction.
And if you have a funeral director in mind, there’s a good chance other people have left reviews online. Simply search the funeral director’s name using Google and you should see a link to reviews you can read.
Check their location
Most people choose a local funeral director to avoid hassle and save money.
You may have to visit the funeral home several times, so it’s easier to choose one nearby. And funeral directors might charge extra if they have to travel outside of their local area.
It’s up to you to decide whether a funeral director is a good fit. So before you meet them, you may want to prepare some questions. This way, you’ll make sure you know what you’re getting and won’t forget anything.
Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- What services do you provide? Do they cater to different faiths? Are they happy to do natural burials? Make sure they can arrange the kind of funeral you’d like.
- What’s included in the funeral cost? Find out if you can add or remove things and how this affects the price.
- Can I arrange some things myself? Would the funeral director be OK with you booking your own transport or buying a coffin from another supplier?
- How do I pay? You need to know if they take payment upfront or later on. You might have to pay a deposit too.
- Who’s allowed to carry the coffin? Will they let family members do it – if that’s what you want?
Check if the funeral director is NAFD or SAIF-registered
Like most types of businesses, funeral directors can join independent membership organisations. These organisations exist to promote good standards in funeral care.
The main two to look for are the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). The SAIF is for smaller, family-run funeral homes, while the NAFD is open to all funeral directors in the UK.
If a funeral director isn’t a member, it doesn’t mean they’re bad at their job. There are plenty of excellent funeral homes that aren’t part of NAFD or SAIF.
If they are registered, though, it’s a good sign that they take their job seriously and care about maintaining high standards.
Make sure you feel comfortable
This is really important.
Remember: funeral directors aren’t just funeral planners. They’re there to provide valuable emotional and practical support at a difficult time.
There needs to be a personal connection for this relationship to work. So if you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you should consider choosing a different funeral director.
It works the other way too. Does the funeral director seem uncomfortable with some of your suggestions? Are they reluctant to do certain things? If so, it might be worth finding a different funeral director who’s happy to arrange the funeral you want.
How to find a funeral director
Our funeral director search tool is a good way to find and compare funeral directors in your area.
It’s really easy to use. Here’s how:
- Visit the funeral director search
- Enter your postcode or region then click ‘search’. Or just tap ‘use my location’ and it will detect which area you’re in.
- You’ll see a list of funeral directors near you, along with prices for attended and unattended funerals.
- If you want more information about a funeral director, click the ‘learn more’ button.
Alternatively, you can browse funeral directors by region.
More funeral planning help
- Learn what a funeral director does
- Find out what to do if someone dies without a will
- Get advice on changing funeral directors
Photo by The Good Funeral Guide on Unsplash