What Funeral Homes Don’t Want You To Know

20 Nov 2021

Funeral home business facade

The loss of a loved one is one of the most emotionally significant and heart-wrenching events anyone will face. When a loved one passes, not only do family and friends face a flood of emotions, but those responsible must also ask themselves very practically, “What do I do now?”. The simple answer is to get in touch with a funeral home to facilitate transportation and begin making arrangements for a burial or cremation. And while there are many quality, well-managed funeral homes, some misuse (or even exploit) the grief and confusion of bereaving loved ones to profiteer. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Under the Funeral Rule, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gives you the right to control the cost of your loved one’s funeral, right down to the last penny. You are entitled to choose and pay for only the goods and services you want or need. It’s that simple.

What You Need To Know

Per the Funeral Rule, funeral homes are required to provide the following:

  • Price information over the telephone.
  • A written, itemized list of costs and services you can choose from.
  • A written casket or urn price (if you haven’t purchased your own already).
  • A written outer burial container price list, if burial containers are required by your chosen cemetery. (Per the Minnesota Department of Health and the Texas Funeral Service Commission, outer burial containers are not required by these state laws, but may be required by policy of some cemeteries.)
  • A written statement that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.
  • If cremating, the information and availability of “alternative containers” to caskets. These containers might be made of wood, cardboard, fiber board, and more. They might cost close to nothing, and funeral homes must use them.
  • A written statement of everything you want to pay for, before you pay.

Know Your Rights

You have rights associated with the Funeral Rule that funeral homes must adhere to, including:

  • Your right to purchase a casket or urn from virtually anywhere. Yes, anywhere. You have the right to find and supply your own casket or urn to the funeral home. The funeral home cannot charge you a fee for purchasing the casket or urn from an outside vendor.

NOTE: Outside vendors like Walmart and Costco sometimes offer much lower prices on caskets and urns than purchasing directly from a funeral home.

  • Your right to not accept a package price. You may purchase only the funeral arrangements you want, meaning the funeral home cannot force you into purchasing bundled goods or services.
  • Your right to make funeral arrangements without embalming. Embalming is the process of preserving your loved one’s body to delay the natural breakdown of cells.
  • If cremating, you have the right to use any “alternative container” other than a casket (see above).

Basic Services Fee

Be aware that under the Funeral Rule, funeral providers have a right to charge a basic services fee, including common services for all funerals. The basic services fee does not (and should never) include fees for optional services or merchandise. The basic services fee includes:

  • Funeral planning.
  • Securing necessary permits and death certificates.
  • Preparing notices.
  • Housing the remains of the deceased until the funeral.
  • Coordinating arrangements with the cemetery or other third parties.

Now That You Know

Heritage Associates is here to help on the hardest of days with insurance coverage and complimentary planning assistance. Losing a loved one isn’t just mentally exhausting, it’s also financially draining. To better protect your loved ones from the financial burden of your passing, consider applying for final expense insurance coverage today.

For a deeper understanding of the FTC Funeral Rule, see the FTC’s website.