The Funeral Rule, enacted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1984 and revised in 1994, requires funeral service providers to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and disclosures about funeral expenses. In addition, funeral providers are prohibited from the following:
- Making misrepresentations regarding legal, crematory, and cemetery requirements;
- Requiring consumes to purchase a casket for cremation;
- Requiring consumers to buy specific funeral goods or services as a condition for providing various funeral goods or services;
- Deceiving the consumer or engaging in unfair practices; and
- Embalming a body for a fee without first receiving permission
The purpose of the Funeral Rule is to ensure consumers are not surprised or price gouged by funeral expenses.
Who Must Comply with the Funeral Rule?
The Funeral Rule applies to all funeral providers in the United States. “Funeral Providers” include those who sell funeral goods and services to the public. “Funeral goods” are defined by the FTC primarily as caskets and urns.
“Funeral services” include services used to care for and prepare bodies for burial, cremation, or other final disposition, and those used to arrange, supervise, or conduct the funeral ceremony. Funeral providers who fail to comply with the Funeral Rule can face $10,000 penalty per violation.
How Does the FTC Enforce the Funeral Rule?
The FTC requires funeral providers physically hand a copy of the General Price List to anyone who inquires about funeral goods or services. The list must give itemized prices for each item offered by the funeral provider. Further, funeral providers must give consumers prices over the phone upon request, although they are not required to email, fax or mail consumers the price list.
What Must the General Price List Include?
The following must be disclosed in the general price list:
- Identifying information, including the name, address, and telephone number of the funeral provider’s place of business;
- Consumers have the right to choose only the items they want to purchase;
- Embalming is not required by law;
- You can opt for an alternative container if you chose direct cremation;
- A basic service fee is included in the overall cost;
- A casket price list; and
- Outer burial container price list.
What are the Only Things Consumers are Required to Pay?
The only things that consumers are required to pay a funeral provider are:
- The basic service fee;
- Whatever goods and services you select; and
- Goods and services that are required by law, which may vary from state to state.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
It may be helpful to consult an attorney when dealing with funeral issues. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help a grieving family when they are likely more vulnerable to unfair and unlawful funeral practices and may be able to assist an elderly person plan his or her own funeral.