The Funeral Rule
When you are planning a funeral, one of the most important consumer protection acts you have is The Funeral Rule, which is a law enacted by the Federal Trade Commission. In short, this rule states that all funeral directors are required to a general Price List, or GPL, to anyone who requests a copy. This list includes itemized prices for all goods and services. If you request one in person, you will be handed a paper copy of the price list to keep, that will show all services or materials that the funeral home currently offers. If you ask over the phone, one can be sent to you through the mail, or you can simply ask for the current cost of specific services. Some funeral homes are now posting their GPL on their websites for you to view and print.
The Funeral Rule also requires that if a person wishes to buy a casket or burial container directly from the funeral home, the funeral home is required to show a list of descriptions of all available casket selections along with corresponding prices, prior to showing caskets. Most funeral homes offer funeral packages that will include specific goods and services in the price. If you choose to purchase a funeral package, make sure it is suitable to your needs. For example, if a package includes the casket and burial vault as well as embalming and you wish to have a cremation with no casket, there is no reason to purchase that package.
The Funeral Rule also states that as a consumer you have the right to choose any and all goods or services that you want, with few exceptions that state or federal laws require. The funeral home must also have this in writing on the general price list you are given. If your city or state laws require you to buy anything in specific, the funeral director is required to have this included on the price list and state the law that it is derived from. The funeral home that you choose cannot charge a fee or refuse to use any casket that you bought from a third party, and all funeral providers that offer cremation as an option must also make alternative cremation containers available to you for purchase.
Remember, the Funeral Rule exists for your protection. If something doesn’t sound right, or you feel you are being pressured to purchase goods or services you do not want or need, visit another funeral home to learn their pricing. If you feel The Funeral Rule is being violated by a funeral home or funeral director, the Funeral Consumer's Alliance may be able to advise you on how best to resolve your issue. You also can contact your state or local consumer protection agencies listed in your telephone book, or the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program.
For more information regarding The Funeral Rule and other consumer funeral protection, please visit http://www.ftc.gov/ .