The Funeral Rule was put in place in 1984 to give consumers some rights and protection when making funeral arrangements for loved ones. It had been discovered that many people were being taken advantage of during a very emotional period. Most people are not even aware of the Funeral Rule or what is in it. Remember, even though this has been put into law there are still many funeral providers who will take unfair advantage of a grieving customer. The bottom line is, just like any other purchase, buyer beware. We have listed the bulk of the Funeral Rule information below; much of the key information is also explained in other areas or on planning forms on this site.
Funeral providers who do follow the Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, (ftc) make it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, and makes it possible for you to select the funeral arrangements you want at the home you use. (The Rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that lack an on-site funeral home.)
The casket and the funeral home’s fee for the basic services of the funeral director and staff are typically the most expensive items in a full-service funeral. Comparison shop before you decide on a casket and funeral home; you may find a wide variation in pricing. If cost is a consideration, look at lower-price caskets and outer burial containers offered by the funeral home, local casket providers, or online retailers. Caskets and outer burial containers with warranties may not be worth the extra cost because no casket or container can delay the decomposition of human remains indefinitely, and the Funeral Rule prohibits statements to the contrary.
If you don’t want to hold a viewing, you can avoid charges for embalming and “other preparation of the body,” and the charges for a viewing. Most states do not require embalming except in special cases. The Funeral Rule requires that an explanation of any charge for embalming be included in the written statement you receive immediately after making the funeral arrangements.
Immediate burial and direct cremation usually are the least expensive options. The cost of permits, preparing death notices, and coordinating cemetery or crematory arrangements must be included in the price for direct cremation and immediate burial.
Ask if the direct cremation price includes any crematory fee. If you want additional services, including the use of staff and facilities for a memorial service, the funeral home may charge an additional fee.
In most states, you are not legally required to use a funeral home to conduct a funeral. These functions may be handled by a religious or other organization, or by your family. In addition, veterans, their immediate family members, public health workers, and some civilians who provide military-related service are entitled to burial in a national cemetery with a grave marker. Burial for the veteran is free, but the family is responsible for all funeral home expenses, such as the funeral ceremony or memorial service, and transportation to the cemetery. Many states have low-cost cemeteries for veterans.
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