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Planning a funeral? Know your rights

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have taken on new roles in our families and communities. You may be delivering groceries, helping neighbors with yardwork, or hosting video check-ins with quarantined relatives. But if someone asked you to help plan a funeral, would you know where to start? The FTC’s information about funeral goods and services, types of funerals, and your rights can help. The FTC enforces the Funeral Rule, which makes it possible for you to compare prices and choose only the things you want or need.

If you can’t leave home or travel to a funeral provider right now, you can still get information about what it offers — and how much those goods and services cost. The Rule says funeral homes must give you information about their products and services, including their prices, over the phone if you ask for it. Some funeral providers also post price information online.

When you make arrangements by phone, online, or in person, you have the right to:

  • buy only the goods (like a casket) and services (like a memorial service) that you want, instead of being required to buy a “package”
  • use an alternative container — made of pressed wood, cardboard or other material — instead of a casket for cremation
  • use a casket or urn you bought somewhere else
  • get a written statement after you decide what you want, but before you pay. The statement must list the price for each good or service you chose, and the total cost. You have a right to get the written statement before you pay, even when you make arrangements by phone.

When you go to a funeral home to make arrangements, you have the right to:

  • get an itemized price list when you start talking about funeral arrangements and prices
  • see price lists for caskets and outer burial containers before you discuss or look at them

Use the FTC’s Funeral Pricing Checklist to ask about available options and compare costs at different funeral providers. You can also use the Checklist to make plans in advance, or pre-plan a funeral. If you or a loved one make advance arrangements with a funeral provider, make notes about the plans, and share them with friends and family.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

This is very helpful, especially in a time of sorrow and sadness. I remember when my parents passed the funeral homes try to take advantage of the situation and sell you over priced items that are not needed and pressure you. Thank you so much for the information.

great timing for a good article like this with so many dying more than usual

Very good information. The passing of a loved one is an emotional time and some folks become vulnerable and apt to react before sorting things out as they would normally. I always will believe my mother’s attorney and the funeral director took advantage of our family when she passed away several years ago.

Very good information. Something that everyone should keep in mind.

Is this for "chains" that cross State Lines, or even for local "one - off" funeral homes?

The Funeral Rule applies to all funeral providers that sell, or offer to sell, both funeral goods and funeral services to the public. 

The Rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that don't have a funeral home on site.

My experience with funeral homes is they charge for every single item from a sign by your house advertising the funeral home under the guise of slow traffic death in family to trying to up sell you on casket just because of color. If they make a call on your behalf you are charged. I they often did not tell us the family car was extra. We assumed everything was going to cost us. I think they take advantage at a vulnerable time.

You couldn't be more accurate. Our family home, which is literally what we call them, has been doing us for 100 years. I nearly wrote almost, then I thought about it. The original owners and my great-grandparents founded the town I grew up in together. EVEN SO, when I attended the meeting to help arrange my grandfather's preparation, memorial and service, the new owner, I man who had been in Rotary with my grandfather for over 20 years showed us an itemized list that almost made me choke. If it hadn't been for the fact that even in my forties I was the most junior member of my family in attendance, I would have spoken up. I learned a lot that day. As I posted on my own today, my husband and I will be doing a direct cremation.

My aunt died May 4 she prepaid the funerals services 15 years ago the only thing on the papers that was with the price separate was the casket and the service for the police with all this Covid19 funerals are not permitted so the money she pay we don't have a funeral we don't use the car family we don't use the police we don't use the car for the flowers and another things she paid for and the papers that she paid for and you no what the funeral home only return $223.00 for no using the police services because the other goods are like a package don't have a price separate

Thank you for providing a very detailed guideline and information on the Funeral Rule along with the checklist. Both my parents had their funeral plan in place and paid for at their time of death. I want to do the same for my family especially since I’ve put this task off far too long.

Check for VA benefits

Is there a booklet on what to do when a family member dies?
What necessary steps to follow? who to contact? Agencies? And what about government dept? I have never had to arrange a funeral and feel kind of lost as to what needs t o be done.

You can order free copies of the FTC's brochure Shopping for Funeral Services, or read the same information online in a set of articles that starts with Shopping for Funeral Services. 

You can print out copies of the online articles, including the Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist.

All the FTC information is free and in the public domain, so you can copy it, share it in a message or newsletter, and link to it. 

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