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Choosing a funeral director

After the loss of a loved one it can seem difficult to make any decisions let alone deal with pressing matters such as the choice of a funeral director. But the sooner you do, the sooner you can obtain help and guidance about what needs to be done.

Many people assume you can only contact a funeral director once the death has been registered but this is not the case. The sooner a funeral director becomes involved, the sooner they will be able to help. For instance, you can appoint a funeral director while you are awaiting a post-mortem’s completion. They will be able to discuss your requirements and act on your behalf so that the funeral will not be delayed unnecessarily once the post-mortem is complete and the death has been registered.

Although you may be familiar with a local funeral director, it is advisable to get more than one quote before you decide. (Use the Bereavement Today Search Facility to find the best in your region.) If you find it difficult to phone, get a friend or relative to help. You are entitled to ask for a breakdown of the charges and it’s best to get any quotes put in writing.

Funeral directors in the UK are not legally required to have any formal training. However all members of the British Institute of Funeral Directors do have to hold an annual licence to practice. This licence confirms that the holder is professionally qualified and makes an annual declaration to abide by a strict code of conduct.

The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) and the Funeral Standards Council all have exemplary codes of practice, premises that are routinely monitored and schemes for remedying any grievances should they arise.

There is also a code known as the MCTAC code, this is an abbreviation used by people in the funeral profession to summarise the role of a good funeral provider.

  • M stands for master of ceremonies. The funeral director’s job is to see everyone is in the right place at the right time and that the funeral flows without any unnecessary distress.
  • C is for custodian. They treat the deceased with respect, caring for them in a safe, hygienic environment and providing a coffin that conforms to burial and cremation regulations.
  • T is for technical adviser. They guide you through the many technical aspects such as disposal of cremated remains, import or export of the deceased etc.
  • A is for agent. They employ the services of such people as gravediggers, clergy and florists and pay the fees on behalf of the family.
  • C is for carer. They help the bereaved to be ‘heard, held and honoured’. This involves putting them in touch with everyone who can help with that aim.


Bear in mind that you do not have to accept all the options that are presented to you. For example, if you are opting for a cremation you may want to spend less on the coffin. A funeral director only gets one chance to get it right so make sure you use their knowledge and help to arrange the funeral service you have in mind.

Useful contacts:
National Association of Funeral Directors
Tel: 0121 711 1343

Funeral Standards Council
Tel: 029 2038 2046

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