The Funeral Rule

Willow WindAs a consumer, your rights through a variety of shopping processes is protected by the federal government.  The funeral shopping process is no exception.  After some research, Federal Trade Commission found that the consumer was in a very weak bargaining position, particularly if there had been a death.  All of the grief, anxiety and a lack of education were distinct barriers the consumer would have to overcome, many times failing to overcome, in the bargaining process.  To rectify this, The Funeral Rule was created in 1984 and amended in 1994.

The Funeral Rule allows you to choose only those products and services that you need as well as pay for only those services that you select.  The rule gives the consumer more advantage in the negotiation process since it allows for the consumer to be more informed by forcing the funeral home into full disclosure.  There are several ways the rule does this including:

  • You are not forced to buy packaged services.  You have the right to pay for only the services and goods that you need and want.
  • The funeral home must give you and itemized price list that is yours to keep.  It describes each of the services provided and its cost.  The list may include the price of caskets ajnd outer burial containers, but if it does not the funeral home must provide separate list of each of those goods as well.
  • The funeral director must give you pricing information over the telephone.  Many funeral homes will mail a price list or post one online, but they are not required to do so.  You are not required to identify yourself or give them any contact information to do so.
  • After you have selected your goods and services the funeral home must provide a written statement listing each of your selections and its cost before you are required to pay anything.  This statement must include any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to purchase certain goods or services.
  • The funeral home that provides cremation must disclose that a casket is not required and must offer an alternative container.  These containers may be made of pressed wood or cardboard.
  • The funeral home must accept for use a casket or urn that you buy elsewhere or charge an extra fee if you do provide your own.  It cannot require you to be there to accept the delivery of such items.
  • The funeral home cannot require embalming for every death and as such must provide alternatives to the consumer.  There are no states that require embalming.  In many cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative.  The funeral home may have a policy that embalming is required if there is a public viewing, but there are no state laws that require this.  Also, the consumer can select direct cremation or direct burial that will not require any form of preservation.

The funeral rule does not apply to monument dealers or to cemeteries that do not have an onsite funeral home.  For more information consult the website for the Federal Trade Commission

Did you find this information helpful, or do you have a story to relate about your funeral purchasing experience?  Please leave a comment.

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