Funerals / End Of Life Planning / Understand Your Rights

Understand Your Rights

Shopping for Funeral products and services is challenging because they are seldom purchased.

Confusing jargon, bundled product packages and a feeling of urgency during an emotionally challenging time can sometimes lead to unwanted choices.

To protect consumers, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created The Funeral Rule, which outlines what Funeral Homes are required to provide to consumers (note: this rule does not apply to 3rd party sellers of products such as caskets).

Before speaking with Funeral Directors to shop for end-of-life products and services, it's best to first understand your rights as a consumer:

Only purchase the products and services that are needed

  • Purchasing a service package that includes unwanted items is not required

  • Consumers can buy goods (ex: caskets) and services (ex: embalming or a memorial service) separately; if certain requested items are bundled, ask for them to be purchased individually

  • Know which products are and are not required by law (ex: embalming is only legally required when crossing certain state lines)

Get price information on the telephone

  • Funeral Directors must provide price information on the telephone if asked

  • Giving a name, address, or telephone number is not required to receive this information

  • Funeral Homes may mail price lists or post them on a website but they are not required to by law

Ask for an itemized price list

  • Funeral homes must provide consumers with a General Price List which itemizes all offered products and services

  • Check that lower-priced options are available when making a final decision, especially for those products which may not be on display in a showroom

Purchase products anywhere

Review a contract or summary statement before payment

  • It should list each item and its individual cost, as well as total price, and payment terms

  • If requested, it should also identify which goods or services are required by state law

  • For example: some funeral homes may require embalming for a public Viewing, but this is not obligated by law in most states

  • For example: states which require embalming may only be applicable to bodies not not buried or cremated within a certain time

Typical products that appear in a contract include, but are not limited to:

  • Cremation services

  • Burial services

  • Casket

  • Outer burial containers (vaults)

  • Additional staff services

  • Transfer of body to funeral home

  • Embalming

  • Other preparation of the body

  • Use of facilities and staff for a Viewing, Funeral ceremony or Memorial Service

  • Use of equipment and staff for a graveside service

  • Hearse and limousine

  • Forwarding remains to another funeral home or location

  • Receiving remains from another funeral home or location

  • Headstone