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Saturday 16 December 2017

Funeral directors in Ireland

Typically when someone in Ireland dies, the first thing a family does is to contact a local funeral director or undertaker. A funeral director’s job usually involves:

  • Collection of the deceased’s body;
  • Preparation of the deceased’s body;
  • Embalming the body;
  • Provision of a coffin and hearse;
  • Provision of transport for the family and guests;
  • The organization of, and payment for, the burial plot (if not already paid for);
  • Payment for the following disbursements: grave opening or cremation charges, church offerings, newspaper announcements (obituaries);
  • Organising flowers and sympathy cards as received.
In general, an invoice from a funeral director should be paid within 30 days. If the account goes into arrears, by Irish law the funds can be paid from the deceased’s estate. Funeral directors in Ireland are not under any legal obligation to display their prices, although members of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) are bound by their Code of Practice (see below) to do so.
The IAFD ( has almost 300 members across the island of Ireland, out of an estimated total of 600 operating funeral directors. The IAFD has a Code of Practice that its members must adhere to, which is in effect a Customer Care Charter. It includes a complaints procedure if a customer has an issue.

The IAFD’s Code of Practice requires a funeral director to agree to the following:

  • Serve their clients with competence and concern for the client’s best interests;
  • Discuss and agree their charges with the next-of-kin in advance, unless expressly asked not to do so;
  • Professionalism and quality of service in arranging and conducting the funeral;
  • Accurate advertising of prices and services;
  • Confidentiality.
The funeral industry in Ireland is one of the few worldwide where there are still no barriers to entry and no licensing or regulation. Yet these businesses are responsible for the burial or
cremation of thousands of people each year. The Forum on End of Life, which
started researching and consulting in the area of End of Life in March 2009, is a project of the Irish Hospice Foundation and its National Council and is chaired by Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness. The Forum is currently calling for government regulation of funeral and cremation services, including embalming, as they have reported that some funeral directors are issuing ambiguous invoices to families and particular providers are engaging in financial arrangements with hospital and hospice staff to ensure recommendation.

Between reports like this, media coverage and word-of-mouth, the industry has developed a reputation that is not altogether flattering. So, like every purchase you make, you should consider who your supplier is, their character, background, experience and previous testimonials before signing anything. See blog post 5 Things to Know Before You Visit a Funeral Director for more info!

5 Things to Know Before You Visit a Funeral Director

  1. Plan ahead of a funeral home visit: Know what you would like ahead of time because more than likely the undertaker can and will oblige. Not knowing what you want could incur massive costs to you and your family and/or you will walk away not getting what you wished.
  2. Compare prices: Funeral prices can vary hugely, even in the same county, so don’t be afraid to ring up and ask for prices ahead of time. Unfortunately, most funeral homes do not display their prices on their websites so a bit of research is required here. Don't be afraid to call them up and ask for quotes.
  3. Think local and small: Small, independent funeral homes often can provide you with a better quality and more personal service at a cheaper price, so don’t forget the little guy....
  4. Read all about the extras that you may incur if you are not careful: Only purchase what you need and want and get a clear quote. Embalming, grave cover, and pallbearers are all extras that you may not need;
  5. Inspect the products you are purchasing as much as is physically possible. Like any event (and a funeral is just that) you should compare and inspect what you are buying. If you were planning a wedding you would want to see examples of the flowers and cake wouldn't you?