The Bureau of Consumer Protection creates extensive protection for those arranging a funeral. In this post I’m going to introduce you to some of the basic rules, but please know they aren’t all of them. At the end of the post you will find a link to their website, where you can read the rule fully, if you have further questions. For now, I’m just going to give you an overview of the more pertinent elements.
First and foremost is the General Price List or GPL. This should be in print, and you should be given your own copy to take home with you. All funeral providers and anyone selling funeral goods and services to the public must provide a GPL. This also extends to crematories and cemeteries, and anyone offering both goods and services for funerals. The GPL must include identifying items and itemized prices as well as disclosures. Anyone who walks in and asks for information should be given the GPL – this even includes competitors, journalists, and different societies. If someone is discussing the kind of service or disposition or goods and services that they offer, or their prices, they should be giving you a GPL. When there is a face-to-face meeting, be it in the funeral home or the family home, the GPL should be given. A party can offer condolences and answer questions such as basic ones about a death certificate prior to offering it, but as soon as the discussion turns to arrangements, the GPL should be offered. It should contain the following:
- the name, address, and telephone number of the funeral provider’s place of business, including (where relevant) the address and telephone number for each branch;
- the caption: “General Price List;” and
- the effective date of the price list
There must also be the following six disclosures:
- The consumer’s right to select only the goods and services desired;
- Alternative containers for direct cremation;
- The basic services fee;
- The Casket Price List; and
- The Outer Burial Container Price List.
They must also include all of the following (if they offer them; if they do not offer them, they do not have to list it).
- Forwarding of remains to another funeral home;
- Receiving remains from another funeral home;
- Direct cremation;
- Immediate burial;
- Basic services of funeral director and staff, and overhead;
- Transfer of remains to funeral home;
- Other preparation of the body;
- Use of facilities and staff for viewing;
- Use of facilities and staff for funeral ceremony;
- Use of facilities and staff for memorial service;
- Use of equipment and staff for graveside service;
- Either individual casket prices or the range of casket prices that appear on the Casket Price List; and
- Either individual outer burial container prices or the range of outer burial container prices that appear on the Outer Burial Container Price List.
Prices MUST be current, they cannot change casket prices, for instance. They can also include prices for funeral packages, but they must be in addition to this.
They must also offer the following 4 minimal offering prices:
Four items that the Rule requires you to list are: (1) forwarding of remains; (2) receiving remains; (3) direct cremation; and (4) immediate burial. Unlike the rest of the goods and services that you must list on the GPL, the prices for these four items must include any fee that you will charge consumers for the basic professional services of the funeral director and staff.
There are additional rules and terms, including ones that pertain to special circumstances like child funerals, special society or organization discounts, notification of embalming (and exceptions), and more. Remember, staying informed is the key to protecting yourself and your loved ones during difficult times. To learn more about the funeral rule, including particular details that have been omitted here, please visit their website at: http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus05-complying-funeral-rule#comply