Funeral Rule / Law

According to the United States Federal Trade Commisson's recently established "Funeral Rule," a funeral home or mortuary may not refuse or charge a fee to handle a casket or urn that a consumer purchases elsewhere. Fortunately, there's a federal law that makes it easier 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 pre-need or at need.

Since a funeral is a major expense for most people, it is to understand  your consumer rights when you approach funeral planning. The Federal Funeral Rule makes this much easier by spelling out what the funeral provider must disclose so as to help the consumer make an informed decision about the services and products they choose to buy. You, as the buyer, have the right to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements pre-need or at need.

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone. The Rule also requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services. For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list to keep that shows the goods and services the home offers. If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets.

Many funeral providers offer various "packages" of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

According to the Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
  • 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.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
Please go to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission website for more information regarding this subject.