How to choose the right funeral director when planning in advance

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The two most common factors for people choosing their funeral director are the overall expense and the quality of the goods and services provided.  

When funeral planning,  how do you choose the right funeral director in advance when these factor of cost and service are ever-changing and could be wildly different by the time your funeral is needed?

This guide includes information about the cost of a UK funeral today, what the cost might look like in the future, and some quality assurance considerations when choosing a funeral director in advance of the event.

Who is this guide for?

  • Anyone thinking about using a funeral director and how to make the right choice
  • Anyone who wants to understand the typical cost of a funeral today in the UK
  • Anyone looking to lessen the impact of rises in cost of a future funeral

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Do I need to choose a funeral director when planning in advance?

When you're planning the details of your funeral, you may want to specify a particular funeral director.  Don't have anyone in mind? That's okay. You don't need to choose a funeral director. 

The important thing is that you don’t let your indecision stop you from cracking on with your plans.  Your thoughtful decision to plan ahead can help loved ones avoid the added emotional and financial strain often experienced by bereaved families when having to make the arrangements at the time the funeral is needed.

You don’t have to use a funeral director by the way. Your family can organise the funeral with or without the help of a funeral director or the help of a home funeral arranger.

If you do want to choose the funeral director and are unsure how to select the right one, we've got some key pointers to help you. 

2 things to bear in mind before choosing your funeral director when planning your funeral in advance

Life is unpredictable

Your choice of funeral director today may not have the same reputation, belong to the same independent company or group, or even be around when you finally need them.  

It’s also possible you might move to another part of the country in the future – in which case you will need to choose funeral director. 

Money matters

If the cost of your funeral is going to be a consideration for you or your family, you need to get a feel for the funeral director’s fees before you make your final choice - even though it could be some time before their service is needed.  Do your research.  Ask for a copy of their price lists or go online. 

What most people don't know about funeral costs

Local funeral director’s fees can vary 

by more than 50%,
for the same service,
for the same standard of service, 
even in the same high street.

Funeral costs have risen well in excess of general inflation and are set to continue in this way.  

The cost of a basic funeral today is £4,184.  The total cost of dying is £9,263 - which includes the extras such as flowers, funeral notices, the reception after the funeral and legal fees.   Funeral costs are expected to rise a further 20.6% to £5,044 by 2025.

What you can do to help your loved ones avoid the rise in funeral costs

To avoid needlessly wasting money - due to the continuing above-inflation rise in funeral costs - that's better left in your estate for your beneficiaries, you can set money aside.  

You could consider putting money into a savings account, buying a life insurance or Over 50s policy, or a prepaid funeral plan.  What makes a funeral plan different, is that it fixes the funeral cost at today’s prices and guarantees to pay for your funeral regardless of how much the cost may rise in the future. 

3 key pieces of advice to help you choose the right funeral director when planning in advance

Look for a mark of service quality

Anyone can set up as a funeral director.

Consider choosing a funeral director who belongs to a funeral trade association or certified in some other way for assured quality of service.  In the UK, there are two UK funeral trade associations. Registered members must abide by a strict Code of Practice. They are:

Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors Independent (SAIF)
Includes independent funeral director members only

National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
Includes independent and chain funeral director members

Both associations monitor their members’ compliance with a Code of Practice.  This includes a premises inspection and interviews with key personnel. 

Get a recommendation

Ask friends and family for their experience.  

Check online reviews

Back up word of mouth recommendation with ratings and comments on review sites.  To make sure the reviews are impartial,  honest and genuine, here are some things to look out for.

  • Ensure the review site is independent of the funeral industry
    One obvious telltale sign that the review site is tied to a funeral company or the funeral industry, is when the review site only reviews funeral directors and related services, such as Wills. 
  • Scan the rating scores
    If the review site predominantly shows 5-star reviews, ask the site to confirm how the reviews are collected.  Bear in mind that if the funeral director invites the reviewer, it’s all too easy for only happy clients to be asked to leave a comment.
  • Check the rating is for the funeral service only
    Another thing to watch out for on review sites is ‘merged’ reviews.  This is where a single rating is shown, but is for different services and products e.g.  funeral plans, wills, estate administration.  Get in touch with the review site if in doubt.

Can I choose my preferred funeral director when I buy a prepaid funeral plan?

Most plan providers will allow you to nominate your preferred funeral director, but it will depend on the type of funeral plan you buy.  It will also depend on whether your preferred funeral director agrees to take on the plan.

If the funeral director declines to take on your funeral plan, the plan provider will find a worthy replacement (the plan provider's reputation depends on it!) and put forward another funeral director for your consideration.   If you don't approve, keep asking your provider to find another funeral director until you are happy.


Funeral trade association
Members: Group and independent funeral directors
National Association of Funeral Directors

Funeral trade association
Members: Independents funeral directors only
Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors


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About the Author

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Sophie can usually be found reading a book. Writing a novel has always been on her bucket list. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Sophie likes to explore and gain a deeper understanding of peoples' attitudes towards end-of-life planning and how it impacts their lives. She hopes that in some small way her writing around these topics can make a positive difference to her readers.

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