How to Find the Best Funeral Homes in Sonoma County CA
When a loved one dies, grief can overwhelm the survivors. Arrangements for funerals, cremation, interment or memorial services are often too difficult to manage personally and so are best left in the caring hands of reliable funeral homes, funeral planners and mortuaries in Sonoma County CA.
The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best funeral providers in Sonoma County CA and issues related to funeral services, including memorial services, pre-need funeral arrangements, cremation services in Sonoma County CA and more.
Updated December 21, 2018
How to Find the Best Funeral Homes in Sonoma County CA
Some funeral services have been licensed as required by law, but others have not been. That's because although the state of California does license and regulate funeral homes, funeral directors, cemeteries, and cremation services as protection for the consumer, it does not do so for those operated by religious organizations, cities, counties, cemetery districts, the military, or Native American tribal organizations.
But all funeral services, including those not regulated by the state, that bear The Prime Buyer's Report Top Ten designation have passed all requirements for Prime Buyer's Report Top Ten status, including verified client satisfaction, hiring only documented workers, verification of required licenses, proof of liability insurance for your protection, clean complaint record, and more.
Funeral Homes in Sonoma County CA Perform a Variety of Services
There is so much to consider when choosing between funeral homes in Sonoma County CA for funeral services, memorial services, interment, and cremation in Sonoma County CA. Depending on how large or small of a service you are seeking, choices and prices can vary widely. Planning a funeral or memorial service requires coordinating myriad services, filling out paperwork, contacting friends and family, scheduling, gathering relevant and necessary documents, and more, all while in the process of grieving.
To avoid having to make difficult decisions during a time of great stress and emotion, many individuals are now choosing to preplan their own memorial services. In fact, some funeral homes in Santa Rosa and the rest of Sonoma County offer discounts or locked-in prices for making and paying for funeral arrangements ahead of time. Should you choose this, it's a good idea to review your decisions every few years and revise them accordingly.
Rules for Funerals in Sonoma County CA
While most funeral directors and/or funeral providers have in mind the best interests of their clients and their families, some try to inflate prices or push unwanted services during clients' times of need. There is a federal law, known as the funeral rule, that helps prevent this. Among other things, the funeral rule states that:
• You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
• Funeral providers in Sonoma County must state this in writing on the general price list.
• If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, funeral homes must disclose this on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
• Federal law requires funeral establishments to quote prices over the phone and to give you a General Price List (GPL) and a Casket Price List (CPL) when you ask in person about arrangements and prices.
• Funeral establishments are legally required to give an itemized statement of funeral arrangement choices, including estimates for costs that are unknown at the time. The statement must also show charges for outside vendors arranged by the funeral provider such as music, flowers, newspaper notices, fees to clergy, etc
• Professional funeral providers may not refuse to handle a casket you built or bought elsewhere or charge fees to do so.
• The law does not require the purchase of a casket before cremation. Funeral providers that offer cremations must make a combustible cremation container available.
• Funeral providers in Sonoma County and throughout California may not provide embalming services without permission.
• Funeral providers may not falsely state that embalming is required by law.
• Funeral providers must disclose in writing that embalming is not required by law, except in certain, special cases.
• Funeral homes in Sonoma County may not charge a fee for unauthorized embalming unless embalming is required by state law.
• Funeral providers must disclose in writing that you usually have the right to choose a disposition, such as direct cremation or immediate burial, that does not require embalming if you do not want this service.
• Funeral homes in Sonoma County must disclose in writing that some funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing, may make embalming a practical necessity and, if so, a required purchase.
• Funeral providers in Sonoma County must not tell you that state or local law requires a casket for direct cremations, because none do.
• Funeral homes must disclose in writing your right to buy an unfinished wood box or an alternative container for a direct cremation.
• Retail casket sellers are not allowed to arrange funerals or cremations or perform any other functions requiring a license as a funeral establishment.
• California law requires retail casket sellers, when beginning any discussion of prices, to give customers a written price list of all caskets, alternative containers, and outer burial containers normally offered for sale and the price for each. In addition, if customers ask for the list in person or by phone, the retail casket seller must give them a written statement identifying caskets or containers by price, thickness of metal, type of wood or other construction, and by interior and color.
All of this helps protect consumers and families from being taken advantage of and helps give a full understanding of the requirements of funeral, burial, and cremation services. If you have questions or feel the above rules were not followed by your local funeral home or burial service, contact the California attorney general.
Some Funeral Services in Sonoma County CA Are Better Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these funeral homes in Sonoma County: Adobe Creek Funeral Home Petaluma CA, Redwood Coast Mortuary Service Santa Rosa CA, Redwood Memorial Gardens Sebastopol CA, Fred Young Funeral Home Cloverdale CA, Pleasant Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary Sebastopol CA, Duggan's Mission Chapel Sonoma CA, Santa Rosa Mortuary Santa Rosa CA. Other funeral homes and funeral providers in Santa Rosa California that might still be in business include: Chapel of the Chimes-Cemetery Mausoleum Crematory Santa Rosa CA, Lafferty & Smith Colonial Chapel Santa Rosa CA, Memorial Park Santa Rosa Santa Rosa CA, Windsor & Healdsburg Mortuary & Cremation Service Windsor CA, Parent-Sorensen Mortuary & Crematory Petaluma CA, Neptune Society Santa Rosa CA, Daniels Chapel of the Roses Santa Rosa CA.
Questions To Ask Cremation & Funeral Services in Sonoma County CA
Know What You're Looking for from Funeral Homes in Sonoma County CA
Hopefully, when you find yourself needing the services of a funeral home, you will have some idea of what you are looking for. Do you want the funeral home to handle paperwork and other arrangements? Do you want an expensive casket or something more budget conscious? Do you want burial or cremation services? Various funeral homes in Sonoma County and beyond specialize in different aspects of funeral services. Some offer alternative choices such as scattering the cremation remains in unique places or ways. Some offer green funerals in which the remains are not embalmed and are buried in caskets that biodegrade more quickly.
The following questions will get you started as you ask questions of local funeral directors and funeral homes:
• How long have the Sonoma County funeral directors been in the funeral home / undertaking business?
• How long have they been serving clients and families in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County CA? (Rules, laws, and regulations vary by area, so having an experienced local funeral home take care of you can help minimize stress and issues.]
• What are the funeral homes' fees, broken down by individual services?
• Can the Sonoma County funeral homes provide forms for a newspaper obituary?
• Can the funeral homes provide a viewing or visitation without embalming if that's something you or your loved one wants?
• Is there a way the local funeral homes can prove that previous family members have been satisfied with their funeral services? This may include a list of references or recommendations. (All funeral homes and cremation services in Sonoma County CA have already had client references verified for satisfaction by our research staff.)
• Do the Sonoma County funeral homes provide additional funeral services such as flowers, clergy, music, catering, space for family gatherings after the funeral, etc.?
• What are your options at the funeral homes in Sonoma County regarding cremation services, burial, and final disposition?
• If the body is donated to science, will the funeral homes still provide funeral services?
• Who does the embalming at the mortuary? What is their experience and education?
• Will the local funeral homes in Sonoma County show you proof of insurance that reimburses you in the event of any damages due to error? (All funeral homes and cremation services in Sonoma County CA have already had their proof of insurance verified by our research staff.)
• How long after death is embalming necessary, and can the funeral homes guarantee they'll be able to provide those services within that time frame?
• Is an obituary in the newspaper required? Is there a cost associated with the obituary writing or placement? Can the Sonoma County funeral home help with obituary writing services and placement if needed?
• What are your options regarding time of service at each of the Sonoma County funeral homes and mortuaries in Santa Rosa CA?
• Do the funeral directors in Sonoma County have suggestions for personalizing the funeral services?
• Is there a way to substantially reduce the cost of the funeral services? If so, what would you be sacrificing as a result? Alternatively, is there an upgrade in the services possible for just a little bit more money?
• Can the funeral homes help with securing social security or veteran's death benefits?
• Will the funeral homes allow you to arrange payments to pay for the funeral services if needed?
Once you've chosen the best funeral providers in Sonoma County CA for your particular needs, make sure they are licensed by the state since that's required by law. (All funeral homes and cremation services in Sonoma County CA have already had their state license verified by our research staff.)
Tips for Dealing with Funeral Homes in Santa Rosa CA
Have a General Sense of What Funeral Services You Want or Require
Despite the stress of grief and limited time, it's best to have some idea of what sort of service you are seeking (funeral, visitation or viewing, private family funeral, graveside service, etc.), what you wish done with the remains (burial, cremation, green burial services, interment, military funeral honors, etc.), where you might like to hold the service (at the funeral home, a private home, a church or house of worship), how many people might be attending, and anything else that may affect the price or timing of the service. You should also think about the mood of the service, possible timing, and additional celebration of life or funeral services such as luncheons or graveside services. If you have religious or personal beliefs that require specific burial details or funerary rites, you should include those, too.
Write Down Your Funeral Plans and Wishes
Before meeting with funeral directors in Sonoma County, write down details about the services you want or need. Writing everything down will prevent you from having to remember everything in the moment, and it will help keep you organized so that you don't forget anything important. You can add to the list as other things come up and as you talk with funeral home representatives in Santa Rosa and near you.
Get Separate Quotes From Several Funeral Homes in Sonoma County
There are distinct differences in the services and prices available at funeral homes in Sonoma County. It's best to speak to several, if possible, to help get a base line for prices and options. Most experts suggest getting three to five pricing lists and details about what's available so that you can make an educated decision. Take the list you made specifying your needs so that each can provide a quote using the same parameters and you can compare your options fairly. During this process you'll want to take notes and pay attention to which funeral home makes you feel most comfortable and is most attentive to your needs.
Choose a Certified, Licensed, Recognized Funeral Home
Make sure the funeral home you are considering has proper licensing, not only for the home itself, but also for the individuals who work there, including the funeral director (there is a license for this) and the person doing the embalming, if you choose that service. Also, look for local funeral homes that go the extra mile, those that have earned accreditation, membership, or kudos from industry groups or consumer watchdog groups. Ask for referrals and verify all licensing.
Choose an Experienced Funeral Home and Funeral Director in Sonoma County
Make sure the funeral home you choose has the experience and knowledge to handle your needs. This doesn't necessarily mean hiring the one that's been in business the longest, but it does mean finding a funeral home that has experience in all aspects of funerals, including cremation, burial, paperwork, ceremony arrangements and more.
Ask Questions of the Local Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, and Funeral Directors
Knowing what to expect is always the best way to feel comfortable. Sometimes people are unsure and afraid to ask the hard questions—including questions about price, guarantees, and qualifications. This is a difficult time, but you need to protect yourself by asking whenever you are unsure about any part of the process. Good funeral homes and cemeteries in Sonoma County and the rest of California will be happy to answer your questions and make you feel secure and comfortable with your choices. Funeral preplanning services and facing the loss of a loved one can be stressful and very emotional events, and professional funeral directors understand this.
Know Your Rights When Planning a Funeral or Celebration of Life Service in Sonoma County
Although it can be difficult to know whether or not a funeral home has acted in bad faith, there are resources available if you feel a funeral home or funeral director has acted unethically or broken laws. Reference the California Department of Consumer Affairs website to learn more. See the article Key Consumer Resources for Funeral Homes in Sonoma County to learn more.
Resources About Funeral Planning and Funeral Services in Sonoma County CA
Regulatory Bodies & Trade Associations For Funeral Homes and Cemeteries in Sonoma County CA
BBB Better Business Bureau www.bbb.com
California Department of Consumer Affairs www.dca.ca.gov
Funeral Consumers Alliance www.funerals.org
CANA Cremation Association of North America www.cremationassociation.org
ICCFA International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association www.iccfa.org
NFDA National Funeral Directors Association www.nfda.org/resources
Diamond Certified www.diamondcertified.org
National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association www.nfdma.com
Federal Trade Commission Facts for Consumers www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/funeral.shtm
Magazines & Publications Relevant to Funeral Services in Sonoma County CA
International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Magazine www.iccfa.com/publications/iccfa-magazine/iccfa-magazine
Funeral Business Advisor www.funeralbusinessadvisor.com
American Funeral Director www.americanfuneraldirector.com
Official Publication of the National Funeral Directors Association nfda.org/nfda-publications/the-director.html
Mortuary Management www.mortuarymanagement.com
Funeral Business Advisor www.funeralbusinessadvisor.com
Funeral Home & Cemetery Directory www.nomispublications.com
Cremationist Magazine www.cremationassociation.org/?page=CremationistMagazine
American Cemetery & Cremation Magazine www.mortuarymall.com/American-Cemetery-Magazine-p/ns-kb-ac.htm
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the Top Ten funeral homes and cemeteries in Sonoma County CA within the following zip codes:
95421, 95444, 94951, 94972, 94953, 95486, 94923, 95442, 95465, 95480, 95431, 95473, 94922, 95439, 95462, 95405, 95433, 95408, 94952, 95472, 95403, 95404, 95430, 95406, 95425, 95450, 95452, 95401, 94927, 95402, 95412, 95436, 95409, 95407, 95419, 95471, 95441, 94931, 95448, 94999, 95416, 94975, 95487, 95476, 94928, 95446, 94954, 95492, 94955 and 95497
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the Top Ten funeral services in Sonoma County CA within the following cities:
Agua Caliente, Alexander Valley, Annapolis, Asti, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Fallon, Forestville, Fort Ross, Freestone, Fulton, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Guernewood, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Lakeville, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Roseland, Russian River, Russian River Mdws, Salmon Creek, Santa Rosa, Schellville, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Stewarts Point Rancheria, The Geysers, Valley Ford, Windsor, Boyes Hot Springs, Camp Meeker, Duncans Mills, El Verano, Eldridge, Fetters Hot Springs, Rio Nido, Sheridan, The Sea Ranch, Villa Grande, Vineburg, Lytton, Mark West, Temelec and Two Rock