What is the Funeral Rule?
Planning a funeral can be difficult due to the high level of emotions, pressure, and chaos that occurs when someone passes away. The Funeral Rule is a regulation put forth by the FTC to protect consumers when they deal with funeral homes and companies involved in the funeral process. The Funeral Rule was put into place in response to some funeral homes using predatory tactics to take advantage of grieving families. Before the rule, funeral homes and companies that provided funeral services often hid prices, included hidden fees, and pressured families into purchasing products that were well outside of their budget. Many families caved under pressure or were shocked to realize they owed much more money than they’d initially anticipated or were quoted.
Today, it’s easier to plan a funeral and harder for funeral homes to take advantage of grieving families. It’s also increasingly popular to purchase funeral products online, which generally leads to much more competitive prices, now that funeral homes and cemeteries are required to use whichever casket, headstone, or urn that a family chooses (so long as they comply with basic specifications). Even though it's almost always cheaper to purchase funeral products online, some families may feel hesitant or feel as though they're going to anger their funeral director by purchasing products elsewhere. Keep in mind that purchasing products online is more affordable and is not abnormal, funeral directors should be aware of the process and should be able to help you should you have any questions. It's usually not a good idea to spend much more on funeral products than you need to simply to avoid the feeling of inconveniencing the funeral director.
However, it’s worth noting that some funeral homes still do not follow these rules, and the Funeral Rule has not been updated to take the internet into account, so most funeral homes still don’t post their prices online, which can make it time consuming to shop around. (However, Ever Loved has made it easy to compare prices, services and reviews in our funeral home listings.) Knowing your rights can help you ensure that you are treated fairly and able to call out any bad actors.
Now that the Funeral Rule is in place and enforced by the FTC, companies that provide funeral services are required to comply with the regulations.
What does the Funeral Rule mean for you?
The Funeral Rule gives you certain rights as a citizen when you’re dealing with a funeral home. It’s important to know these rights and be aware of them, especially when you’re agreeing to prices. It's also important to remember that plenty of businesses will still try to persuade you or convince you that their prices are the best, that their products are worth purchasing, and that it's better to go with their recommendations on packages than with your gut. Avoid falling prey to common sales tactics by showing up to a funeral home armed with knowledge and a full understanding of your rights under the Funeral Rul.
Your Rights Under the Funeral Rule
You have the right to see an itemized price list and receive one in written form.
It’s important to view a list of prices so that you can have a general idea of what to expect when planning a funeral with your chosen funeral home. Itemized price lists also let you easily compare and contrast with different funeral homes in your area. As mentioned above, funeral homes are still not required to publish prices online, so for easy browsing, check out the funeral home listings on Ever Loved.
You have the right to request prices over the phone.
It is not required that you visit the funeral home in person in order to receive pricing information on funeral services. Some funeral homes use this tactic, because it’s generally easier to close a sale when you’ve already made the trip. Skip the visit to the home and request a price list over the phone. Many people find it easiest to call several funeral homes and quickly ask to have their price list emailed to them. Then you can browse and compare them at your leisure and call back with any questions.
You have the right to purchase only the items that you want to purchase.
You are not required to purchase packages or items that you do not want from a funeral home. Only select and pay for the services you want to purchase. The only fees that funeral homes can require are their basic services fees and anything that is legally required. (For example, embalming is not required in the vast majority of situations, but may be required if the body is being shipped across specific state lines.) Products (such as caskets, urns, flowers and printed materials) never need to be purchased through the funeral home.
You have the right to see an itemized list of what you’re agreeing to pay for, before you make actual payments. It’s incredibly important to make sure you’ve got the full picture so that you know what expenses to expect. Ask your funeral service provider for a full itemized list of what you’re paying for so that you can ensure you’re only paying for services you specifically requested and can go over the list privately before agreeing to proceed. It can be helpful to get an itemized list of possible charges before selecting a funeral home so that you can compare prices with other potential funeral homes in your area.
You have the right to purchase a casket, urn, or cremation container that is not provided by your funeral home.
Your chosen funeral home is required to use the container you purchase, even if you didn’t purchase it with them. Purchasing a casket or urn online is often significantly less expensive than purchasing directly from a funeral home. Funeral home often markup their products over 300%, so purchasing online can save you hundred (and sometimes thousands) of dollars. You can find a wide selection of caskets, urn and more from top retailers at great prices on Ever Loved.
You have the right to purchase an “alternative container” for cremations.
An alternative container is a container used for cremations that is much cheaper than a cremation casket. Alternative containers are usually made out of wood or cardboard and generally start at around $50. They are provided by the cremation company or funeral home you're working with.
You have the right to see a casket price list for caskets provided by the funeral home, even for caskets that the funeral home might not have readily on display.
Funeral homes will often have their most popular and most expensive caskets on display at their physical locations. Ask for a list of all the caskets they offer and the prices before picking one out in the store. Alternatively, you can purchase a casket online and the funeral home will be required to use it.
You have the right to skip the embalming process.
Embalming can be an expensive part of the funeral process, so it’s important to note that you are not required to have a body embalmed. (However, there are a few legal exceptions, as mentioned above.)
It’s important to keep these rights in mind throughout the funeral planning process. While funeral homes are required to comply with the Funeral Rule, it’s always a good idea to stay alert, vigilant, and informed. You can read more about the Funeral Rule on the FTC's website.