You are here

Planning a funeral? Know your rights

Share this page

Planning a funeral can be challenging, whether you’re making arrangements ahead of time, or helping others at a time of need. The Funeral Rule, enforced by the FTC, gives you rights that can make planning a funeral more satisfactory. For example, you have the right to buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service). You don’t have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

We recently updated our information for consumers about funeral planning:

Paying Final Respects summarizes a consumer’s rights when buying funeral goods and services.

Shopping for Funeral Services is a detailed guide to funerals, goods and services, with a full-page pricing checklist.

You can order free copies at

We also have a series of articles on our site that explain your rights, describe types of funeral products and services, and help you compare providers. You can share, copy or adapt the articles online or in your community.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


How do you go about getting a veterns burial, who do you contact and what documents are required?
What are the cost involved with a veterns burial?

Hi, Geo,

I think you'll find this website about military funeral honors helpful.

Geo, a veteran's burial can be provided at no expense to the Next of Kin and family if buried in a national cemetery. There are no reservations for national cemeteries. The DD-214 (Standard Discharge Form) or any form that states your loved one's discharge from the military other than dishonorable, is necessary to apply for burial in a national cemetery (as well as funeral honors and burial flag). The discharge paperwork must show the date of entry and date of discharge, name, SSN or Service Number, as well as the term "honorable" on it. It is best to go through a funeral home to schedule all of this because it can take time to do so. As a funeral director, I would contact the National Scheduling Office to request burial in a specific National Cemetery. Once accepted, the cemetery calls me back with a schedule and the burial proceeds from there. If you plan a burial in a private cemetery (cemetery other than national), there are Veteran's Administration benefits that you can apply for reimbursement through. Currently, the VA will reimburse up to $1,400 (the cap may have been raised recently so it's best to check with a funeral home or the Veteran's Administration). The reimbursement costs are primarily for cemetery fees and transportation to the place of burial. Other VA benefits include a standard marble or granite headstone, or bronze plaque. If you request a plaque, you will need to purchase a marble or granite base to secure it to through the cemetery. Also, you must check the cemetery's requirements and limitations to their acceptable grave markers. If a private marker has already been purchased, part of the $1,400 reimbursement amount may be applied towards it. If the plaque/headstone was also privately purchased, you may request a military service medallion to be furnished at no cost to be placed on the marker. To obtain the best service for veteran's, please check for the "We Honor Veteran's" symbol on funeral home websites as well as certificates in the funeral home that show the agency participates in this national program. You can visit the We Honor Veteran's page here to find local agencies (hospice and funeral homes) that participate near you:

I already posted a comment, but when I incorrectly entered the code letters and numbers,the comment box came back empty. I would suggest that you make the code words a little more readable so as not to inconvience everyone.
See if you can retrieve my comments as I wouldn't be able to retrieve what I said exactly like I said it the first time.
Just another government waste of time in my estimation at tax payers expense.


Geo, you know what I do when leaving a comment is copy it so if this happens you can go back in the box and paste it and you can do this over and over again as long as you don't cut or copy anything else. Sometimes I'll keep a word document and copy and paste important things I may want to share, ask, or state on several sites. The link above should point you to the info. you need. When my dad died he was given a military burial but you have to call them based on the persons ststus: retired, active duty, reserved, etc. I hope I helped and didn't offend you by answering your questions. A Friend

This is so helpful, the link to the site for this category and all the others are necessary. This was a smart and thoughtful move on your part, keep us updated and call on us when you need the people...

Thanks for helpful info!

This is helpful...people really need this.


you mean, your backyard?

Generally speaking, yes a cemetery is the mandatory method of burial. Being buried on private land has many restrictions and qualifications. Check with your state, city, and county offices to ask about their specific restrictions. Most of the time, you will be required to have a special permit stating that humans remains are buried on the premise and you must disclose it to whomever the property is being sold to.

You may want to contact some of the groups listed in Funeral Groups and Contact Information for information about burial options.

Does my mom need to report to the credit bureaus a death of her husband?

WoodyStew, my condolences for you and your mother's loss. It is best practice to notify the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) of her husband's death. This prevents identity theft. On the note of identity theft, if your grandfather had a passport, that will have to be returned to a government agency (generally an approved post office or local social security agency), even if it is expired. This way, the government knows they have personally discarded the passport, so if the passport comes up in the future, they immediately know it is identity theft.

I want to be put in a freezer with a generator and be transported from AZ back to Lamar MO, the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman, I don;t want to be embalmed. Is this possible?

gsmartin13, yes it is possible! Refrigeration is required after 24 upon death. Be mindful of the actual temperature of a tractor trailer freezer. Generally we keep our mortuary refrigeration around 40 degrees. You may be required to purchase dry ice (our substitute for off-site refrigeration) because there is always the possibility of the freezer unit on the trailer failing and dry ice is our standard anyways. We usually change out the dry ice every 8 hours, so a trip from AZ to MO may require a few changes. You would also have to check with the transportation company if they accept transporting human remains. Generally you have to find a private third party livery company to do this. This is necessary because human remains are considered biohazard and companies can not transport food and human remains with the same vehicles (just an example, I really hope there is no one out there doing this). The best, and quickest way, we transport human remains from state to state is via airlines. Currently, I only know of three domestic airlines that do this, Southwest, Delta, and United. Frontier stopped their services late 2013 (at least in the Colorado area). You do not have to be embalmed for a flight, but dry ice is required (no more than 5 lbs) which is plenty enough. Human remains are shipped two ways, with a combination unit (simple cardboard with plywood reinforcement and padding) in which the remains are tied with straps to prevent extreme movement. The second method is to be placed in a casket or container known as a zeigler case, and in turn placed on a plywood tray, covered with cardboard to prevent damage to the container, and strapped to prevent tipping over or being exposed to damage. In either case, you do not have to be embalmed, simply 5 lbs of dry ice strategically placed in known areas of rapid decomposition, in order to slow the process. More information than you asked, but I hope this all helped!

The funeral home told my mom how much we owe on my daughters bill. is this legal, since she has no affiliaton with the account, the contract and financial document is in my name


If the cemetery has a funeral home on the same grounds, you can file a complaint with the FTC.  If there isn’t a funeral home involved, you can contact your state Attorney General’s office, local consumer protection agencies or the ICCFA Cemetery Consumer Service Council .

Is it legal for a cemetery to charge an Inspection fee for a vault that was purchased from somewhere else than the cemetery? Is it legal for a Funeral home charge an inspection fee on a casket purchased elsewhere?

 If a funeral home charged you a fee for "inspecting" a casket you bought elsewhere, that is a violation of the federal Funeral Rule, which the FTC enforces. Please report that to the FTC at When you go to, please tell us whether you did pay the fee, and the name of the funeral home & person you talked to.

If a cemetery also has a funeral home with the same owners on the cemetery grounds, it is a Funeral Rule violation to charge a vault inspection fee for a vault that you bought somewhere else. You can report that to the FTC.

  But, if a cemetery does not have a funeral home with the same owners on the cemetery grounds, you can report it to your state board that regulates cemeteries.

this man charged me 4500.00 for a foot stone for my Mom. He states that I owe him 2000.00, however, cancelled checks say I owe 1,500.00.
He made me give him a personal check for 500.00 to remove 2 scrubs at the site but later was told by the cemetery owner he has no right doing landscaping on the property, he only has permission for monuments. He never credited the 500.00. He never had a final amount on the contract. I could not reach him for several weeks so I thought he left NY with 3,000.00 and nothing to show for it.
Now he says he is sending the monument back to Vermont because I haven't paid the full balance. He made me think it had been cemented to the ground but when I drove there, it was on a wood platform and was not installed yet.
Another women said that when she paid him in full, he refused to install it until she gave him additional money. She thought there was nothing she could do so she just paid him. Since she lives in California, she doesn't know if the work was completed. The women who runs the cemetery seems to change her stories to cover for him.
Its very upsetting. I cannot afford to lose 5,000 to this person. I am currently unemployed and looking for a new job. I had been taking care of my 95 year old Mom for 35 years since my Dad died, a Korean War Vet. I am struggling financially. I want to Finnish the job but I don't want to deal with anyone who is dishonest. Thank you.

Diane, Could you tell us the city, state and cemetery where this happened? If we know that, we can tell you about local contacts who might help.

You could also tell your state Attorney General, and report this to the FTC at 1-877-382-4357. The FTC is responsible for the federal Funeral Rule, and takes reports about issues people have related to funeral goods and services.

Nice Blog!

Thanks for obliging information!

Leave a Comment