The Funeral Rule
The Funeral Rule is enforced by the FTC.

The Funeral Rule: Protecting Consumers

Making funeral arrangements involves numerous decisions and considerations, whether at the time of a loved one’s passing or in advance. It’s a process that can be overwhelming, especially during a period of grief. The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), serves as a crucial guide and protection for consumers in this delicate situation.

The rule empowers individuals by ensuring they can choose only the goods and services they need or want without undue pressure or unnecessary financial burden. It’s designed to provide transparency in pricing and options, allowing for informed and thoughtful decision-making. Understanding your rights under The Funeral Rule can significantly ease the process of arranging a funeral, ensuring it aligns with both your needs and those of your loved one.

The funeral rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, making it possible to select the funeral arrangements you want at the home you use.

The FTC also helps prevent funeral home negligence caused by violations of the rule and pricing issues in death care services.

It is important to note that the Rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or cemeteries lacking an on-site funeral home.

Your Rights Under The Funeral Rule:

Purchasing Funeral Services

Buy only the funeral arrangements you want. You can buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service). You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

Pricing Information

Get price information on the telephone. Funeral directors must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it. You don’t have to provide your name, address, or telephone number. Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.

The General Price List

Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. It lists all the items and services the home offers and the cost of each one.

Casket Pricing

See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets. Detailed casket price information is sometimes included on the funeral home’s GPL. More often, though, it’s provided on a separate casket price list. Get the price information before you see the caskets to ask about lower-priced products that may not be displayed.

Burial Container Pricing

See a written outer burial container price list. Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells containers but doesn’t list their prices on the GPL, you can look at a separate container price list before seeing the containers. If you don’t see the lower-priced containers listed, ask about them.

The Right to a Written Statement

Receive a written statement after you decide what you want and before you pay. It should show exactly what you are buying and the cost of each item. The funeral home must give you a statement listing every good and service you have selected, the price, and the total cost immediately after making the arrangements.

Explanation of Services

Get an explanation in the funeral home’s written statement describing any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.

Alternative Containers

Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation. No state or local law requires the use of a casket for cremation. A funeral home that offers cremations must tell you that alternative containers are available and must make them available. They might be unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or cardboard.

Proving Your Urn or Casket

Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.

Embalming Requirements

Make funeral arrangements without embalming. No state law requires routine embalming for every death. Some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time; some states don’t require it at all. In most cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative. In addition, you may choose services like direct cremation and immediate burial, which don’t require any form of preservation. Many funeral homes have a policy requiring embalming if the body is to be publicly viewed, but this is not required by law in most states. Ask if the funeral home offers private family viewing without embalming. If some form of preservation is a practical necessity, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is available.

The Funeral Rule safeguards consumers, ensuring dignity and fairness in the funeral planning process. By understanding and exercising your rights under this rule, you can make choices in your best interest and those of your loved one. Whether selecting only the services you want, obtaining clear pricing information, or using alternative containers for cremation, The Funeral Rule empowers you to make decisions that respect your emotional needs and financial limitations.

Remember, this rule is about more than just regulations; it’s about providing a framework for you to honor your loved one in a way that is both respectful and responsible. As you navigate through the complexities of funeral planning, keep these rights in mind and use them to guide your decisions, ensuring a process that is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Additional Resources on The Funeral Rule:

The FTC Shopping for Funeral Services Consumer Advice

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