The More You Know: 8 Funeral Planning Tips

When it comes time to plan a funeral for a loved one or to pre plan a funeral for yourself, there are a lot of options to consider. For this reason, many people turn to mortuaries for funeral planning advice to help them sort out the details of a memorial service or funeral. However, there are some aspects that funeral directors may not make you aware of right off the bat.

Here are some of the funeral tips that we’ve learned over the years and are happy to share with you so you can be more educated during the process.


1: Pre-Planning Funeral Advice

When planning ahead, consider using a national or regional service.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with pre planning for your funeral. It takes the burden off your family and lets you make the decisions. However, keep in mind that a local funeral home may fall on hard times and close. If you choose to plan with a local home, you run the risk that your pre-planned funeral won’t happen because the funeral home no longer exists.

For this reason, our pre-planning funeral advice is to plan ahead with a company that’s been around for a while, a company that offers you the ability to pre plan and choose among several funeral homes in your area.

2: Casket Caution

You don’t have  to buy your cremation urn or casket from the funeral home.

When you visit a funeral home, there will no doubt be some very lovely (and expensive) caskets and urns on display, but you aren’t required to buy directly from the funeral home. In fact, you can find many beautiful caskets and cremation urns online generally at substantially lower prices.

3: Rentals Save Money

You can rent a casket for the viewing.

If you’re planning on cremation, but still want to have a viewing, many funeral homes offer the option of casket rentals. The body is placed in a cardboard container within the casket and then removed after the viewing. This is a great way to cut costs when you’re trying to save some money on the funeral.

4: Dust to Dust

Don’t buy caskets with protective gaskets.

Some funeral homes push these pretty hard, but “protective” caskets need to be exposed to the public as consumer fraud. If you are told that a gasketed coffin will better preserve human remains because it keeps out air, water, and other elements, keep a few things in mind:

While it is true that “sealer” caskets do not allow any air to reach the remains or for any body fluids to evaporate…

  • The trapped body putrefies in an air-tight container, releasing harmful gases, and eventually turns to mush.
  • Given enough time the fluids will eat through the casket from the inside.
  • Since a “sealer” casket doesn’t allow gases to escape, the casket remains under pressure, and when it leaks, it can come out with force. The internet is rife with stories of caskets actually exploding.
  • Most mausoleums are designed with an awareness of this issue and built to deal with it behind the scenes. But in some cases, there are cracks in the crypt wall, and there are leaks.
  • An unsealed casket allows dry air to flow over the remains.
  • A natural decomposition goes through a process of dehydration (because of air naturally moving through the casket, even in an underground burial) known as desiccation.
  • As the body decomposes, body fluids start to leak out of the remains.
  • Airflow allows the fluids to evaporate and allows for desiccation of the body.
  • The end result is a dehydrated body.

Protective gaskets are a swindle being perpetrated against vulnerable people. The rubber gasket used to construct a “sealer” casket costs the funeral industry very little money, but the markup passed on to a grieving family can run to hundreds of dollars.

The truth is that no matter the burial – underground or in a mausoleum – microbes will be present. No casket will stop decomposition or keep air, water, dirt, or fauna out forever. Our list of funeral planning tips would be incomplete if we failed to make it clear to avoid these caskets and save yourself the costs they incur.

5: Speak Up and Ask for Funeral Planning Advice

Always ask to see the individual price list when planning a funeral.

Funeral homes tend to create packages for different types of funerals, which can be very helpful, because they will include aspects that you might overlook on your own. However, they might also include services you don’t need. Ask to see the individual price list along with the packages so that you can compare and contrast.

More tips on funeral budgeting, including a funeral cost spread sheet, can be found here.

6: An Urn Can Serve for the Viewing

Funerals are usually much less expensive when the body is not present.

When there’s no body, there’s no need for a casket or embalming or any of the other necessities that come with having a viewing. If you want to save money, our funeral advice is to opt for direct cremation and have the cremains present at the memorial service.

7: Know the Rules When Planning a Funeral

Some questions to ask of a mortuary.

The answers to these questions should alleviate any concerns that the cremains you pick up belong to your loved one. Some crematoriums will allow a family member to accompany the body and witness the cremation.

  • What chain-of-custody process do you follow from death to urn?
  • When retrieving a body or delivering it to a third-party crematory do you cross-check paperwork and identity? Are you aware of the crematory’s own procedure?
  • Do you tag the decedent with a wrist or ankle band?
  • Will a metal disc with a unique ID number be provided? (This disc should survive the cremation process.)

Our guide to transporting ashes outlines the rules and regulations for shipping cremains, traveling with cremains, and how to ensure that the cremains arrive safely.

8: Request a plain metal or plastic container when picking up cremains.

Often crematories and funeral homes will put their name on the cremation container that you pick up in order to pressure you into buying a different urn on the spot. However, if you request a plain container, they are required to comply.

Funeral Planning Should Focus on the Heart

Sometimes the most meaningful funerals cost less.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a beautiful funeral. You can have a memorial in a park or a potluck at a relative’s home. The important part about a funeral is that you are honoring your loved one’s memory, and most of the time the greatest memories made are the free ones.

If you are planning a service at the time of death instead of preplanning, the funeral planning tips found here will help you in your time of need.

30 Responses to “The More You Know: 8 Funeral Planning Tips”

  1. From Stewart Boomer

    Thanks for pointing out what the side effects are of sealing the casket. Never, in a million years, would I have thought about how bodily fluids would eat through a casket from the inside if not given enough air. Not to mention the possibility of the casket exploding! Now I have a lot more information to go off of as I’m trying to plan a funeral. Thanks for sharing!

  2. From Howard Reed

    I never knew that a casket could be rented, rather than bought. I think most people would be relieved to hear that, and not be so scared of what would happen if one of our loved ones passed. During such a difficult time in a family, many try to take advantage of the situation, but I am glad that there are people out there that will be transparent about what are available.

  3. From Jeff Madison

    I appreciate your tip on planning a funeral in advance. It may sound pretty morbid but I imagine that picking the funeral home and arraignments would be beneficial in the long run. My wife and are getting a little bit older, maybe its time we had a serious talk about our eventual funeral arrangements.

  4. From Andy Harrison

    With any kind of funeral that you choose to have, it is important to always plan for it. You wouldn’t want to pass away and have your family unable to do the service for you. Like you said, pre-planning would take the burden off of your family and would allow you to make the decisions.

  5. From Nash Rich

    I thought the tip of knowing the rules was interesting. I didn’t even know about the tag thing before I read this. I can see how it would be good to have some kind of identification. Thanks for all of the tips!

  6. From Bob Lowe

    This is great information. It’s nice to know that funeral homes may have packages you can buy to help with the funeral. I think when one of my loved ones pass on the last thing I want to do it plan a funeral. Having the funeral home take the worry away from me or any of my siblings, would allow us to focus on being there for each other.

  7. From Lillian Moore

    Thanks for the article! I thought it was interesting that you suggest asking for help when it comes to planning a funeral. I guess there is a lot more that goes into planning a funeral than I thought. Having a quick overview of what options you have from a funeral home can make the entire process easy and affordable. I really appreciate your tips and will use them in the future.

  8. From Gregory Willard

    My grandma passed away about a year ago, and we did the best we could for her funeral. I had no idea that you didn’t have to buy the casket from the funeral home. We ended up buying a casket from the home so that my grandpa didn’t have to worry about it. I will have to take that into consideration next time. Thanks.

  9. From Theodore Winston

    That’s good to know that you can rent a casket for the viewing if you are going to be going with cremation. I had always wondered what a viewing and funeral service would be like if the deceased person was going to be cremated. I’ll have to talk to my relatives about this option if I am ever involved in planning the funeral service. I appreciate your tips!

  10. From Tobias Armstrong

    I really like how you noted the importance of keeping the heart while you’re planning a funeral. I feel like you can get caught up in a lot of things when it’s time to plan for a funeral, but I think the important thing is making sure that you remember the person behind the funeral. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  11. From Skylar Williams

    I liked your fifth point about the planning packages that are offered. I’m thinking of choosing one of those and tweaking them to suit what we need. There’s a lot of stress in planning, I hope I don’t overlook everything.

  12. From Ipswich Funeral Services

    Thank you for sharing these valuable tips in funeral pre-planning. I agree that planning ahead with a reliable funeral firm is a good idea for you to choose the right funeral service among the many Ipswich funeral services available today.

  13. From Jen Pack

    My grandmother is most likely going to pass away within the year, so I think it would be good for us to choose a memorial service to help us plan the funeral before we start grieving from losing her. I like the suggestion you give of asking funeral homes for planning advice. After all, they have done this several times before, so they probably have a good idea of how to make it run smoothly.

  14. From Baxter Abel

    I’ve never heard to not purchase a casket from the funeral home! Thanks for the tip, I’ll be sure to look around more outside the funeral home the next time I need to buy a casket. I also like what you said about using rental items for a funeral, I never thought that was an option.

  15. From Jasper Whiteside

    Renting a casket for a viewing is such a great idea. I would guess that the rented casket would be really nice too. Many of the family and friends might like the chance to say their last goodbyes in person. Even though the deceased cannot reply, they would still get more peace out of it than talking to a jar, I think.

  16. From Frank Delaware

    We recently had a death in our family, and we wanted to make sure that we planned everything accordingly. I really like that you say that you don’t have to buy a casket from the funeral home you are going to choose. Since we don’t want to have to spend too much to get a good casket, we will definitely do a little research and see what we can find.

  17. From Scott

    I had never considered the financial benefit of cremation when it comes to funerals. It makes sense why having the body cremated would mean you didn’t have to pay for the embalming, casket or other things needed for the viewing service. My grandparents are both in their 90’s and may be passing away soon. Before that sad time comes, I’ll have to ask my mom is she has thought about this.

  18. From Bernard Clyde

    I also think that, like you stated, pre-planning your funeral can be a good idea, although it might feel like a weird experience. There are a lot of stresses that accompany the death of a loved one. Lessening that burden can be a great to help to family members during the grieving stage.

  19. From Derek Mcdoogle

    In your article, you stated that “our pre-planning funeral advice is to plan ahead with a company that’s been around for a while, a company that offers you the ability to pre-plan and choose among several funeral homes in your area.” My best friend’s dad was diagnosed with a terminal disease and someone suggested that they should start preparing for his funeral. I wonder if there are certain services that might not be available when you choose to pre-plan.

  20. From Luke Smith

    Thanks for your advice to look into things like the chain of custody process from death to urn and other protocols that a funeral service typically follows. I would imagine that in the bustle of planning a funeral it could be easy to overlook details if you aren’t familiar with them, so knowing in advance exactly how things are going to happen could save you a lot of stress. I would also think that it would be neat to involve your loved ones in the process of choosing a funeral home or service they like, whenever possible.

  21. From Luke Smith

    I really like your comment about how funeral planning should be focused on the heart, and how you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a beautiful funeral. I would think that choosing a service who understands that and caters to what your family wants rather than what earns them the most money would be idea. It would probably be most important to just make sure they have whatever services you need, like a crematory.

  22. From John Mahoney

    I liked when you talked about the importance of preplanning funerals. It makes sense that keeping this in mind can help you avoid stress and make sure you choose wisely. I would want to find a funeral home that can facilitate the ceremonies I want and can provide accommodations for my guests.

  23. From Yilliang Peng

    I had no idea that there were so many things that you had to consider when going to a funeral home. My wife’s father has just passed away and has left the responsibility to us to take care of his remains. I think that we might have his body cremated, but there are so many custody things you have to keep in consideration. Thanks again!

  24. From John Mahoney

    I agree that it is always a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for your funeral. It is always a good idea to remember that consulting with several companies can help you find the one that offers the best deals and has the best premises for the type of service you want. As I see it, finding a good funeral planner can also provide the advice you need to save money and have teh best services you can.

  25. From Ridley Fitzgerald

    These are some great tips for funeral planning. I had no idea that you could rent a casket for a viewing. Viewings are nice, so I’d still want one, so this is great to know about. Renting is always cheaper!

  26. From Ivy Baker

    I liked that you talked about how it would be a good idea to know the chain of custody from death and the urn. After all, it does seem like a good thing to be aware if you are considering cremation. My grandmother wants to be cremated and I would want to make sure that everything was a done properly.

  27. From Bradford Snelson

    Thanks for pointing out that most funeral homes don’t require you to buy your casket or urn from them. I have been thinking of planning my will and considering how much to set aside for my funeral expenses. It’s nice to be reminded that they will be able to shop around to get a good deal on a casket for me.

  28. From Elsa

    I had no idea I could rent a casket. That is so smart. Our family can’t afford a really expensive funeral for my mom, and we have been looking for ways to save money and still honor mom’s life. Thanks for these tips, they are so helpful.

  29. From Amanda Drew

    I like your suggestion to see the individual price list that comes with the package so that you can see exactly which services you’d be getting. My grandma recently passed away. She was almost ninety-six and left a lot of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We’re sad, but now she’s back with my grandpa, so she’s happy. Your tips should help us figure out the funeral arrangements for her.

  30. From Deb Pearl

    Thank you for all the funeral planning tips. My family and I need to plan a funeral and we don’t know what to do. That is good to know that funeral homes tend to create packages for different kinds of funerals. We will have to ask about those.

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