Knowing the funeral rule provides you with crucial information about your rights as a consumer and gives you insight to weed out what is true and what is not quite so true. If anyone says that something is a law, make him or her show you the law to which they refer. Know your rights and know the law in your own state. Read Final Rights and/or get your own states laws pamphlet. Knowing your rights and the law before you purchase is invaluable. The death care industry bases much of its industry on sales and sales techniques. Be aware of what you can and should expect from a provider before you go out because then you will be able to spot what sounds right and what is not. Information is power. Have in your head what you are looking for. Knowing what you want helps to focus the meeting, and lead you to the information you most want.
Before any discussion with a funeral director, they need to hand you a GPL (general price list), which covers their services. Every one of the places I have shopped has handed me one before talking about anything else. You can call on the phone to get prices and such, but that makes the whole GPL handling a bit difficult. The Funeral Rule should move into the 21st century and require GPLs on every funeral home website. Funeral Rule should be revamped to include cemeteries as well, but the death care industry is a powerful lobby. Maybe one day, cemeteries will fall under the Funeral Rule. You should know that you have the right to pay for only the services you use. Many places have packages, but you have the right to pay for what you need and no more.
The law in almost every case does not require embalming. Challenge anyone who states otherwise, and if they persist, contact Funeral Consumers Alliance. If someone states that some sort of funeral director’s league or association requires embalming and that the funeral home could be fined, know that is not the case. The truth of the matter is that funeral homes rely on embalming for income. In many cases, if you opt out of embalming the funeral home will then charge for refrigeration, which comes included in the price for embalming. Many consumers are used to embalming as a regular part of the funeral experience. It does not have to be. If you are lucky enough to live in the majority of states that allows you to choose who takes care of your body at death, you can look for a death doula in your area to care for the body in a natural and traditional manner.
Know that you can purchase your own coffin, shroud or urn. I like to ask the salesperson about a shroud to see if they are open to a more traditional burial and funeral. Shrouds are simple things and no one need have to pay too much for one. There are very nice engineered shrouds on the market, but you need not have to purchase one of them. Coffins may also purchase outside the funeral home or cemetery. Like shrouds, there are many interesting ones on the market. If you are handy with wood, you can make your own. The same applies to urns. You do not have to purchase one of theirs; you can have something what fits your needs.
Keep notes on the experience, noting the information that was interesting or relevant. Collect their business cards so you know with whom you spoke. On the back of the business card write down something that stuck out about the interview, and keep them in a file. Only you and your family can decide if prepaying makes sense. Prepayment for cemetery needs might make changing your mind more difficult or expensive. The point of preshopping is to get the lay of the land for your local area. You can then make better choices for yourself and family once you know what is available.