Know Your Rights: The Funeral Rule

Most funeral providers truly want to help their clients through the difficult process of handling their loved one’s death and making final arrangements. They do their best keep their interests in mind and to effectively serve their clients’ needs.  However, this also means funeral providers must follow laws that prohibit funeral professionals from taking advantage of their clients by inflating prices or charging for unnecessary services.

To avoid these types of inconsistencies and incidences of price gauging, the Federal Trade Commission created and now enforces The Funeral Rule. This law aims to help consumers make informed decisions during a difficult time and to ensure they are not being tricked into purchasing overpriced services.

What The Funeral Rule Offers

Adopted in 1984, The Funeral Rule mandates that funeral directors itemize all their goods and services, including package deals. Consumers also have the right to get a general price list from a funeral provider when they ask about funeral arrangements. However, customers have the right to purchase whatever items needed, even if they aren’t part of a package deal.

The Funeral Rule also stipulates that:

  • All services and products offered by a specific funeral home must be itemized on The General Price List.
  • If state or local laws require consumers to purchase a particular item, such as a grave liner or vault, the funeral provider must disclose it on The General Price List and include a reference to the specific law.
  • Consumers can receive price information over the phone without giving your name, number or address first.
  • That funeral providers cannot charge a fee or refuse to handle a casket or an urn purchased elsewhere.
  • Consumers can actually see a written casket price list before seeing the caskets. You can also ask about seeing a written our burial container or vault price list too.
  • Alternate containers for cremation must be made available
  • Funeral providers must provide a written explanation of any legal cemetery or crematory requirements
  • Consumers can make funeral arrangements without embalming. While some states require embalming or refrigeration if the person is not buried within a certain amount of time, California, does not require this process.
  • Clients should receive a written statement after they decide what they want and before they pay showing exactly what they are buying and their costs.

Why The Funeral Rule Was Established

This rule was established to regulate the funeral industry and protect the general public from unjust selling practices. It was introduced in 1984 and amended in 1994. Before the rule, there were issues surrounding funeral homes leading consumers to believe they had to purchase certain funeral services that was not necessarily required, such as embalming. The Funeral Rule also changed the monopoly funeral professionals had on caskets. Before the new regulations went into effect, only funeral homes sold caskets, a service that greatly inflated prices.

Who Must Comply with The Funeral Rule?

All funeral providers who sell or offer to sell funeral goods and services to the general public are obligated to comply with The Funeral Rule. Funeral goods consist of all products sold to a person who is in connection with funeral services. Funeral services are used to care for and prepare bodies for final disposition. They also include services used to supervise, conduct or arrange a funeral ceremony or disposition.

To be considered a funeral provider, you do not have to be a licensed funeral director and your business needs not be a licensed funeral home to be covered under The Funeral Rule. Crematories, cemeteries and other businesses can also be classified as funeral providers if the market funeral services and goods.

Filing a Complaint

If you have a concern about a funeral home breaching The Funeral Rule, you can formally make a complaint to the FTC. However, the FTC will not pursue individual cases, but by providing it information about non-complying funeral home providers, it helps them build a file against companies that could be violating The Funeral Rule. If a funeral provider is found violating this federal rule, he can be fined up to $16,000 per offense.

Find a Trusted Funeral Provider

Contact Grace for additional information about The Funeral Rule and to find a trusted funeral provider in your community. We are here to help you arrange the best service for you or your loved one.

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