Selecting a Funeral Director

Selecting a funeral director is an important job and this is your loved one’s funeral and should be precisely how they would have want it to be.

At HonourThem, we work with some outstanding funeral directors who we would be happy to recommend or if you wish, please go to the Funeral Homes Directory

You can choose to perform some of the tasks yourself, or ask the funeral director to take care of everything.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting a funeral director:

  1. Make a decision based mainly on your level of comfort with the funeral director
  2. Assess your personal recommendations and location
  3. A good funeral director will guide you through what you need to plan and will help you plan the funeral the way you want it
  4. Location – Choosing a funeral close to your home will make everything easier

How do I decide?

The funeral director you choose should:

  • Understand your requests
  • Interpret the wishes and needs of your family
  • Keep to your budget

The usual services a funeral director offers are:

  • Transport of your Loved One
  • Registering the death
  • Ensuring the legal requirements and bookings for burial or cremation are completed
  • The embalming, care and presentation of your loved one
  • Placement of your Obituary notice / death notice / funeral notice on HonourThem (or in the newspaper, or both)
  • Organising the funeral service
  • Providing a venue for the service
  • Arranging the minister, celebrant
  • Organising the music
  • Organising the flowers
  • Organising the catering
  • Recommending support services for bereaved families
  • Application to agencies for funeral grant

Funeral Director’s Cost

They may charge a flat fee per funeral, or a fee-only based on the specific tasks they perform for you. It is good to check what you are paying for first, by getting an itemised quote.

“Professional services” is a catch-all fee charged by funeral directors that can include anything from filing paperwork to using the funeral home itself. In summary, ask what the professional service fee is and what this covers.

Other big items typically include burial plot fees and the cost of the casket. Embalming, service sheets, hearse hire, catering and flowers also add to the price.

In summary, ask for an itimised list of services and costs before signing a contract and check if GST inclusive or exclusive.

Here is a working example:

It is common practice for your funeral director to:
– Give you an estimate at the time the funeral arrangements are made.
– Send you the invoice 2 weeks from the date of passing
– Ask for payment within 4 weeks of the invoice date
– Ask that the person giving the instructions signs an Authority Form.

The cost of a funeral depends on your choices and preferences. The professional service fee, the cost of the casket and the other expenses for the funeral vary according to the services you select and use.

Before the funeral director can give you an estimate of costs specific to your needs, they will talk through the variations.

One funeral invoice is usually made up of three sections:
A. The casket
B. The professional services fee. Other charges include transferring your Loved Ones from the place of death to the funeral home, embalming and caring for the body, and providing a hearse for the funeral service.
C. Other charges which might include; flowers, catering, cemetery or cremation fees, paying the celebrant or minister, service sheets, slideshows, and other AV requirements, paying doctors etc. Funeral directors often make payments on your behalf to a number of third parties

The funeral director’s professional services fee is the charge for the services provided to you. This fee varies based on the specific services you use.

The funeral director fee includes; meeting with you to make arrangements, organising the tasks, working with third parties such as the celebrant or organist, attending the funeral service, managing any legal requirements such as registering the death. It also covers the cost of having the funeral home team available to you at anytime and the costs of providing the funeral home facilities they offer

Many families use the services to the fullest and some only require certain aspects of the funeral directors service offering.

Generally, the fee charge reflects the service you have used.

Burial vs Cremation Costs

Which option you decide on (or in the wishes of your loved one), will have a significant impact on the price.

Burial – you will need to pay for a burial plot, the interment fee, process for interring your loved one and the headstone. Local councils or private cemeteries set the plot prices. Many councils publish costs online for interment at their cemeteries.

Natural Burial – natural cemeteries are planted with trees. Plots can be more expensive.

Cremation – usually a lower price than burial. If you are using a council-owned crematorium the prices are often online. There are privately owned crematoria and these costs can be more expensive.

Buried at sea – you need to apply to the Environmental Protection Agency. There are 5 offshore sites for sea burial in New Zealand.

Ways to Save Costs

You cannot avoid burial, cremation and legal costs. However, you have choice when it comes to other aspects of a funeral.

Caskets and Urns

Options range from a simple cardboard casket (from $350) to a bespoke upholstered model ($5000).

An urn for storing the ashes can cost up to $500.

See the HonourThem Marketplace for ideas.


There is no legal requirement.

However, you may want to consider it if there’s a delay between the passing and the funeral or for open-casket viewings.

Embalming isn’t permitted at “natural” cemeteries.


You do not need to pay for a hearse. It is possible to use other vehicles but your Loved One must be in a casket and there are rules around this. For more information, see: Government Departments and Legal Documents

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand

“Once you have decided on the type of funeral you would like for your loved one, it is the funeral director’s job to smooth the way. Having discussed your requirements, your funeral director will then make all the arrangements you want and relieve you of the stress which is often associated with making arrangements and decisions at a time when you are often not emotionally equipped to do so. This leave you free to spend time with family and friends and deal with your grief. The FDANZ Code of Ethics requires each member funeral director to respect your right of personal choice and decision-making”.

Selecting a funeral director is a job that once completed, you will be proud to have done as your loved one wished. The funeral director you choose will play a vital role in how your loved one is farewelled and will ultimately form a lasting memory among those who loved them. That’s why selecting a funeral director and choosing the right one is so important.

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