Why Estate Settlement Matters for Funeral Service Professionals

If you were to ask a funeral service professional about their daily life, they'd most likely talk about transfer services, preparation of the deceased, disposition, ritual, and grief support. Estate settlement probably wouldn't be top-of-mind. So why should funeral services professionals care about estate settlement? 

Building on an existing relationship with the executor(s)

Funeral services professionals work closely with executors. From the death call to the arranging meeting and service, funeral staff build trust with the people going through estate settlement - namely, executors. This trust is developed through the respectful treatment of their loved one and careful  handling of personal - even sensitive - information. Research shows that after friends and family, funeral providers are the most common sources of bereavement support for families.[1] On top of that, our own research shows that roughly 40% of families use executor checklists provided to them by funeral directors. While working out of scope should be avoided, estate administration services can leverage and build upon existing relationships with executors.

Extending work they’re already doing

Funeral service professionals are also familiar with some of the paperwork and processes required at the time of death. They regularly handle vital statistics, instructions for submitting benefits forms, and practical considerations after death. In short, most funeral homes already do this work, just to varied degrees. Support with logistics does not go unnoticed; research shows that families highly value the informational and instrumental support provided by funeral directors.[2]

Adapting to changing times

Funeral service professionals are constantly adapting themselves to provide valuable service to families.[3] Over time, funeral homes have expanded offerings to include: 

  • Formal aftercare programs
  • Pet services
  • Pre-need consultation
  • Individualized services
  • Home funerals
  • Live-streaming & recorded services
  • Social media presence
  • Alternative building uses
  • Merchandise sales

These innovations stand alongside the checklists and estate kits that some funeral homes provide after death. In other words, estate settlement can be considered an emerging pillar of aftercare. And this kind of aftercare is sorely needed: families generally find the process of estate settlement highly decentralized, cumbersome, confusing, and onerous. By enhancing their aftercare services, funeral homes can stand out above the rest, attract new customers, differentiate their brands, and fill an important service gap for executors.

Showing an ongoing commitment to families

An exceptional and multi-faceted aftercare experience supports the ongoing well-being of families. Taking that extra step to make families feel cared for is appreciated and remembered. Families become more inclined to leave positive reviews, recommend your services, and stay connected with your funeral home. Aftercare programs can lead to long-lasting, loyal relationships that span generations. 

Generating revenue

Finally, estate administration services offer the potential for increased revenue. Funeral homes are facing losses in revenue per client due to increasing rates of cremation and reduced demand for embalming, public services, and merchandise.[4][5] It is now easier than ever for consumers to compare pricing and shop online for merchandise traditionally sold by funeral homes (e.g., caskets, urns).[6][7] Decreases in ancillary product sales (which makes up a significant share of funeral home revenue) have further reduced revenue per client. Support with estate settlement can help to supplement traditional sources of revenue that are in decline - and that support doesn’t have to come with high costs or overburdened staff.

Partnering with Cadence

Funeral home staff are uniquely-positioned to assist families with estate administration, due to their existing relationships and familiarity with post-death paperwork. By partnering with Cadence to offer estate settlement support, funeral homes can maintain relationships, increase positive reviews, and reduce staff time spent on paperwork and estate-related questions. Blending an easy-to-use online platform with compassionate support, Cadence provides families with personalized, step-by-step guidance, time-saving tools and on-demand assistance with hard-to-do tasks. Cadence stands out as a service that lights the path forward to families during their darkest times, while also providing revenue generating opportunities for funeral homes. To find out more about how Cadence can help your funeral home enhance its aftercare services, set up a meeting today

References

[1][2]Aoun, S. M., Lowe, J., Christian, K. M., & Rumbold, B. (2019). Is there a role for the funeral service provider in bereavement support within the context of compassionate communities? Death Studies, 43(10), 619–628. https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2018.1506835 

[3]Beard, V. R., & Burger, W. C. (2017). Change and innovation in the funeral industry. Omega (United States), 75(1), 47–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222815612605

[4]Koronios, E. (2020). IBISWorld Industry Report 81221CA. Funeral Homes in the Canada. Retrieved from IBISWorld Database.

[5]National Funeral Directors Association [NFDA]. (2021). 2021 NFDA Cremation & Burial Report. https://nfda.org/resources/operations-management/research-services/studies-and-reports 

[6]Joachim, J. (2013). What everyone ought to know about funeral eCommerce. FuneralOne Blog. https://blog.funeralone.com/grow-your-business/truth-about-funeral-ecommerce/ 

[7]Ligaya, A. (2013, October 25). Online shopping shakes up the funeral industry. Financial Post. https://financialpost.com/personal-finance/young-money/online-shopping-shakes-up-the-funeral-industry