Your Legal Rights
The Funeral Rule
The Federal Trade Commission mandates what is called “The Funeral Rule.” Funeral providers are required under federal law to give you a written statement of all costs of the funeral goods and services that you select. This is called a General Price List (GPL).
If you wish to consider filing a complaint with the FTC, see this link.
Funeral costs are divided into three basic categories:
- The basic service fee: Funeral providers are allowed to charge this fee and you cannot decline it. This fee covers services common to all funerals including the use of the funeral home, the services of the funeral director and attendants, burial arrangement coordination (i.e. a cemetery or other), securing permits, etc.
- Optional service charges: transporting the body, embalming, times for viewing (or wakes), use of a hearse or limousine, burial container, cremation and interment.
- Cash disbursements: This covers goods and services that the funeral home buys on your behalf, with your consent. It may include flowers, clergy services, obituary notices, pallbearers and other service providers such as soloists or musicians.
You have the legal right to:
- Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.
- Get price information on the telephone.
- See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets.
- See a written outer burial container price list.
- Get an explanation of the written itemized statement you receive before you pay.
- Use an alternative container instead of a casket for cremation.
- Make funeral arrangements without embalming.
If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
FTC regulations prohibit funeral directors from charging “casket handling fees” for people who make the casket or purchase it from another vendor. The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere. You may arrange to bring a casket to the funeral home for use. Rental may also be possible.