Modern consumers have become increasingly comfortable with shopping around for the best products and the best prices, but there is one major purchase many are unwilling to comparison shop for. It is a purchase that everyone (or everyone’s loved ones) will eventually have to make. Most people understand the importance of preplanning their final arrangements, but many fail to actually take the first steps in doing so.

Comparison shopping is the best way to find the right funeral provider. You need to trust that they will carry out your wishes or those of a loved one and deliver the quality, value and services you want when the time comes. (Use this funeral planning checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything while making arrangements.)

Shopping around for preplanned funeral arrangements isn’t very different from comparing the quality and value of other important purchases we make. The basics are the same, with a few added considerations.

  1. First, have a discussion with the family about prearranging final arrangements. Remember that everyone has the right to decide for themselves how they would like their funeral to be held.
  2. Second, make a list of local funeral providers, call each one and request a “general price list.” This itemized list features all of a provider’s products and services along with their costs. It is important to enter funeral planning with a full understanding of the costs involved.
  3. Research potential funeral providers to get a feel for their level of customer service and quality. You can use consumer reviews online to gain insight from real customers, and you can visit potential providers in person to familiarize yourself with each one. A quality funeral provider will listen to a customer’s interests and wishes and work with them to plan the personalized service they desire. This research will help you determine the provider that offers the best customer service, options and pricing.
  4. Be sure to look for added services and benefits that might impact provider selection. For example, some people refrain from prearranging their funeral services because they are uncertain of where they may be living in the future. If this is a concern, look for a funeral provider that allows for portability of prepaid arrangements. Members of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral and cremation providers offer what is known as the National Transferability of Prearranged Services. This benefit enables a prearranged funeral service to be fully transferable to any Dignity Memorial® provider in North America, should your loved one move more than 75 miles from where their original arrangements were originally made.
    Grief support might also be a consideration when choosing a provider. Dignity Memorial® providers offer the Dignity Memorial Guidance Series, a collection of booklets, DVDs and CDs that provide professional advice and compassionate insights on grief, as well as access to a 24-Hour Compassion Helpline® staffed by professionals with advanced degrees and specialized training in grief counseling.
    Another benefit of the Dignity Memorial® network is its Bereavement Travel Program, through which dedicated travel specialists will seek out the best available airfares, hotel accommodations and car rentals for all family and friends who wish to attend a funeral, cremation, memorial or graveside service. Selecting a provider that will offer help and support to surviving family members after a loved one's passing is an important factor in this decision.
  5. Lastly, when comparison shopping, remember that price should not be the primary consideration when planning funeral and cemetery services. Just as one might be willing to pay more for a luxury vehicle or luxury hotel stay, be aware there is a wide range of service standards, added benefits and other options among funeral providers.

Comparison shopping is commonplace for so many of today’s major purchases, and it only makes sense to compare one’s options when shopping for final arrangements as well. Having conversations about end of life issues with loved ones is never easy, but it is necessary. This is one purchase that everyone will eventually make, and doing the legwork now will ensure that you find the right funeral provider.

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