How to Choose a Good Funeral Director

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In each state excluding Colorado, funeral directors should be licensed, and all states compel embalmers to be licensed. In most states the minimal prerequisites for licensure as a funeral director are reasonably basic. The ap­plicant should be at least 21 years of age and a high school graduate, must have accomplished some college schooling in mortuary science, and must have attended an apprenticeship under a certified funeral director. Most people who are licensed funeral directors are likewise li­censed embalmers.

There are presently about 50 college programs in mortuary science recognized by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. These programs encompass two to four years of course work in such subjects like funeral service, business law, grief counseling, psycholo­gy, ethics and management, as well as courses in embalming.

Though a recent graduate of a mortuary science program must have adept skills in embalming and in managing the great amount of paperwork related with death, compassion, tact, composure, and the power to communicate well typically come only with some experience.

A good funeral director will often offer to handle such matters as applying for pension survivors’ benefits or veterans’ burial benefits wherein headstones and markers are often provided at government expense and burial in national cemeteries might be arranged, and advising the Social Security Administration of the death, as well as the common submission of the right docu­ments to the state for issuance of the death certificate.

Other services that may be offered by a good funeral director include the following:

* Transferring the body to the funeral home.

* Preparing the body for showing or burial, or both.

* Devising suggestions about visitation and memorial service.

* Disposing the corpse through cremation or burial.

* Advising the family about customs and choices for pallbearers, flowers, and obituaries.

* Making agreements with the cemetery. You will generally have to attend to buying a plot or niche yourself.

* Giving “aftercare,” including survivor support groups and death-anniversary memorials, to help the family conclude the grieving process.

If you’re offered several packages of products and services, you’ll have to choose which package if any, or which option of individual services, is most of value to you. It is not cost-effective to buy a discounted package if you did not need or want all of its features in the first place.

Once you recognize which of these services you require, the funeral director will give you a statement of goods and services to okay and sign. The statement must note the price of all goods and services chosen, what is specifically included in every one of it, and the price and description of whatever additional services called for especially if you are purchasing a package service.


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