What You Need to Know When Choosing a Casket

By: VGFS
Sunday, June 9, 2019

Selecting a casket for your loved one can feel overwhelming. It’s one of the first major decisions you will need to make following your loved one’s death. In addition to feeling numbness or grief, you may also feel confused about what your loved one would have wanted.

In the end, you want to know that you made a choice that honors your loved one and respects your budget. Below are some points for you to consider when choosing the right casket for your loved one.

Set a budget. Before you attend your first meeting with a funeral director, try to determine an overall budget. From there, you’ll want to decide how much of your budget you can allocate to the homegoing and repast. Doing so will help you to clarify a realistic number and will also assist the funeral director in helping you to find the right casket within your parameters. For some families, the sky is the limit while others need to make more modest arrangements. Always work with what is comfortable for your family.

Determine who your pallbearers will be. Typically, the number of people that you will choose for this special honor and responsibility will be determined by the number of handles on the casket that you select. Caskets often have six or eight handles, so you’ll need one pallbearer per handle. The weight of the casket can also be significant, so you’ll want to select able-bodied pallbearers. You may also give honorary pallbearer titles to family members or friends who cannot physically participate.

Shop around. You do not need to purchase a casket from the first funeral home you visit. You might be able to find a better price, more options, or better service if you visit several funeral providers. Please keep in mind that you will be responsible for the delivery of the casket as well as any associated delivery fees if you go this route.

Consider the casket size. Caskets aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all. Standard caskets are typically 84” long, 28” wide, and 23” tall. Pay special attention to the width to ensure that your loved one will fit comfortably. In most cases, the 28” width offers plenty of space, but oversized caskets are available if needed. Your funeral director should be able to help you determine the best dimensions to accommodate your loved one.

Be flexible. If budget is an issue, you’ll want to keep an open mind when selecting the best casket in which to lay your loved one to rest. The more durable the material of the casket, the higher the price will be. However, the price goes up as you add on extras. For example, selecting a casket made out of mahogany, bronze or copper can more than double the average price. Bronze and copper constructed caskets are priced by weight, while stainless steel caskets are categorized by their gauge or thickness. When devising your budget, consider upgrades that you will want, such as brass handles, a decorative plaque, or other custom details and start at the lower end of your budget so you can include these upgrades. You may also be able to rent a casket from your funeral home, then have your loved one cremated or buried in a less costly coffin.

Know your rights. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Funeral Rule,” there are guidelines that funeral homes must abide by. The funeral business is highly regulated and rulings frequently change and are determined by each state. However, for the most part, the Funeral Rule applies. Here is what you need to know about purchasing a casket under the FTC’s ruling:

You have the right to:

  • Get pricing information over the phone and receive a printed copy to keep when you visit the funeral home in-person
  • View a casket price list prior to being shown any caskets
  • Receive a statement of the goods and services you have requested, in writing
  • Use a casket that you purchase from an outside vendor

Selecting a loved one’s casket is an act of love, regardless of the model or style that you ultimately choose. If you need assistance choosing the right casket to lay your beloved family member to rest in, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. It’s always our pleasure to serve you.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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