Choosing a funeral home

Recommendations and Advice
from the Information on funeral services "Association Française d'Information Funé

Financing a funeral

WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    When a death occurs, there is no emergency : you have enough time to select a funeral home

The burial or cremation should be completed within 6 working days of death, Sundays and holidays not included.
The departmental Prefect where the burial or cremation is to take place may grant a deferral to this requirement.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Before making arrangements : call and ask these 3 questions of potential funeral homes

      1) The cost of fees and procedures.

      2) The price of :
          - an oak coffin*equipped (funeral with burial in a cemetery).
          - a coffin* equipped for cremation (ceremony with cremation).
          - a coffin* equipped and zinc coated (for shipment abroad, according to regulations).

          (*): with inner lining, handles, plaque, screws, etc.

      3) The cost of a hearse and pallbearers, as well as the number of pallbearers.

          In the case of transportation or repatriation : obtain the cost per kilometre (return trip) or air transport.


Approximate quotes often hide double billing or fictitious services : "organizing the service or the ceremony", "logistics for the eulogy"...

You may incur other expenses: publication in the press, death announcement cards, flower arrangements, preservation care, funeral parlour, monument, taxes, religious service, etc.
The questionnaire above and the rubric "Funeral homes" (English and french langage) will help you to be selective.

Be extremely cautions of a business that resists giving clear and precise information

Certain "regie" and commercial ventures are severely criticized by the Conseil de la Concurrence

No large distibution supermarket (Leclerc™, Auchan™, Carrefour™, etc.) manages funeral homes or monumental masonry

See the rubric "
Denunciation by the Conseil de la Concurrence" (French langage)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    It is a good idea to have someone calm and sensible with you during the discussions.
      Ask a friend or a neighbour to accompany you.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Placing the body in the coffin usually takes place where the death occurred : home, care centre, retirement home

No matter where the death occurred, no one can impose the return of the remains to a family residence or the transfer to a funeral parlour. In accordance with CGCT (Section R. 2213-33 and R. 2213-35), the body may remain in a private residence or a retirement home not belonging to the medico-social sector and not tied to a health institution, for a period of 6 days.

A "mortuary" is located in a medical institution, a hospice or a retirement home.
If the death occurs within the institution, the accommodation is free of charge.

A "funeral parlour" is a commercial institution managed by a funeral home.
Usual commercial names: Funeral Home or Funeral parlour, Funérarium®, Maison Funéraire®, Athanée® ...
Transfer and stay in a funeral parlour are billed either to the family, the hospital, the clinic, or the retirement home.


If a care centre or a retirement home expresses their desire not to keep the mortal remains:

Do not sign an authorization for transportation of the body without placement in a coffin if it does not stipulate
     "Transfer required by the Director of the institution, at no cost to the family"

Refuse to call a society for transportation without placement in the coffin to a funeral home.

This advice must be followed with your specific requirements in mind.

See the rubric "Mortuary, Funeral parlours, transfer of the remains"


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    All terms should be explained so you do not get mislead.

- Master of ceremony,
- Funeral Director,
- Convoy Director,

All mean the same thing.
An employee of the funeral home always takes charge of the family in regards to protocol and organization. That person is either a master of ceremony, or a pallbearer in charge. This must be specified on the estimate!

- Embalming,
- Preservation care,
- Somatic care,
- Cosmetic care,
- I.F.T. Care

This involves the injection of large quantities (6 - 10 liters) of a formaldehyde type substance, a procedure which takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Attention: This does not include dressing or application of make up nor is it just a needle as is sometimes explained or understood.

Preservation care is not mandatory and cannot be imposed on the family.
(except in rare circumstances)

See the rubric "Preservation of the body, embalming, techniques used, regulations"


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    After you have made a request or to mandate a mortician :
       you should receive a very detailed estimate, free of charge with no obligation.

Do not accept a simple verbal response, a draft or an approximate price scribbled on a business card.
Request an explanation of each cost item: an identical service or product may be added more than once!
Demand a written description of the coffin (specie of wood, thickness, colour, finish) and accessories.

If you accept the conditions of the estimate that is given to you, a PURCHASE ORDER is then drafted:
1) You are contracting that funeral home and you promise to pay the bill.
2) Any change afterwards on the purchase order must be added to the estimate in your possession, or a new
     estimate must be made stipulating each and every service and material.

   Some practices by businesses often considered beyond reproach... by the unaware:

- Double billing
- High cost of services deliberately ill defined or virtual :
   cost of homage, organization of the ceremony or the convoy, availability of logistics means, etc.
- Presentation of an inaccurate estimate.

See the rubric "Denunciation by the Conseil de la Concurrence" (French langage)

Examples of arguments used to skirt legal obligations :
we are professionals, we will take care of everything; immediate dispositions must be made; let's not talk money now out of respect for the deceased; we have helped grieving families for generations, etc.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Reviewing the estimates presented

Our information line 01 45 44 90 03 will help you to confirm that the estimate(s) in your hands does not contain errors, double billing or non-mandatory services added without a detailed explanation.

In order for us to remain impartial and independent, we do not wish to know
- the name of the funeral home,
- the town the call is coming from.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Beware of "guides" you may find in some town halls

Interest agreements may exist between town halls or their syndicates and funeral homes

See the rubric "Commissionaires and Agents" (French langage)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    In France, since January 10, 1998 : any funeral home certified by a prefecture may be selected

The list of certified funeral homes must be posted for public viewing in
- Town halls,
- Reception halls of mortuaries and private funeral parlours,
- Crematoriums,
- Cemeteries conservation rooms.
A copy of this list must be handed to anyone upon request.

You can select the funeral home, the mortician's care agency, the funeral transport company or the monumental mason in the town, commune or region of your choice.
Consult also the Yellow Pages.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Resist and report employees/agents biased in favour of one particular funeral home

Cold canvassing, at home, on public road, or in a public building is forbidden.
Recommendation and canvassing :

  1. Are forbidden and punishable by law :
    - of six months to three years imprisonment,
    - a fine of 914,69 to 45734,71 Euros,
    - impeachment of civil rights and family rights,
    - interdiction to hold public office or conduct professional activity in the field the infraction was committed.

  2. Have an ulterior motive and often benefit the authors.

  3. Are responsible for higher costs, by several hundreds of Euros.

Inform our organization of any reprehensible activity.


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)    Financing funerals

  • Through the deceased's banker.
    The deceased's assets may cover funeral expenses.
    With authorization from the family and with the agreement of the banking establishment, an amount to a maximum of 3,049 Euros (20,000 FF) may be withdrawn by the funeral home from the account of the deceased person. That amount will be deducted from the estate asset upon presentation of the invoice.
    (Section R. 2101 of the Code civil, instruction n° 92-67-K1-A3, 06/9/1992, nor: BUD R 92 00067 J)

  • By the notary.
    A request of empowerment, countersigned by all the senior heirs can be made.

  • Accessing dues.
    Life insurance, death-funeral insurance, mutual insurance or social security (in the case of death while performing duties as an employee or professional or receiving unemployment benefits).

  • If the assets of a deceased person are insufficient.
    The children and the spouse must finance the funerals of their relative, even if they renounce beneficiary status.
    These expenses constitute a maintenance debt the children must bear proportional to their resources if the assets of the deceased parent are insufficient (Cass.court, 1, May 14, 1992, appeal n° 90-18-967).
    The funeral expenses constitute a succession debt only if they were "necessary". If the funeral takes on a "de-luxe" character, the expenses are only incurred by the person who initiated them (the amount retained in 2009 is about 1500 €, twenty-fourth of the maximum amount of the social security benefits).

  • Requisitioning a funeral home.
    In the event of death on a public road or in order to satisfy public health requirements, a society for the transportation of mortal remains may be requisitioned. The Mayor or the Director of Public Prosecution may demand payment of transportation costs before placement in the coffin.
    (Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales, Sections L.2212-2, 5° and L.2215-1)

  • Funeral of an indigent person.
    The Mayor of the town or commune where the death occurred will be responsible for the organization of the financing of the funeral, taking in consideration, both of the deceased person's wish (Official Gazette, November 17, 1887), and the cost normally agreed and the governing laws.
    Consult social services of the town hall.
    The Mayor, calling upon a tribunal, may recover the cost of the funerals from one of the children or from the spouse, only on condition of his or her solvency.


Association's Hot Line: 00 33 5 46 43 44 12

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Association Française d'Information Funéraire
9, rue Chomel 75007 FRANCE