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Featured Funeral Homes:
Farley Sullivan Funeral Home
50 Naubuc Avenue
Hammons G W & Son Funeral Home
101 E Elm Street
Lake View Cemetery
Phillips Funeral Homes
212 E Sixth Street
What the FTC Funeral Rule Means to Every American
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with protecting Americans against deceptive or unfair business practices. On April 30, 1984 the agency created the "Funeral Rule" to ensure all consumers can engage in funeral services and be protected against excessive or hidden charges. The funeral rule was further amended in 1994. The rule is now practiced by every funeral home. Here's an explanation of what the rule requires and how it benefits you as a consumer at a time of your highest sensitivity.
- A funeral home may offer you a bundle of goods and services from the casket, use of a salon for the ceremony, and burial but the funeral rule gives you the right to pick and choose only the goods and services you desire or can afford. Even the service of embalming is optional.
- Complete Anonymity - you have the right to phone the funeral home and ask for pricing information in complete anonymity. This means that you do not have provide your name, address, phone number, or e-mail account in order to get an accurate price quote. Please note that the funeral rule does not require funeral homes to post their prices online.
- If you choose to visit a funeral home to obtain a quote, they are required to give it to you in writing. They are also obligated to provide you a general price list (GPL) for your reference and comparison with other funeral homes.
- You have the right to view a casket price list which is usually not part of the GPL. The casket price list gives detailed information about caskets including price. It is recommended that you as the consumer view the list to find the casket which is in your price range before you go to the casket viewing room. Very often the affordable caskets are not the ones on display in the viewing room. This simple practice will help you save money.
- The funeral rule allows you to furnish the funeral home with a casket or urn you purchased independently. Without regard to where you purchase the item (the internet, another store, or catalog) the funeral home must accept the casket or urn and make use of it. You may have the item shipped directly to the funeral home and you are not required to be there when they receive the item.
- You also have to right to request pricing on "outer" burial caskets. These are protective covers for the actual funeral casket which prevent the grave site from caving in. Individual state regulations do not require their use but many cemeteries require them. Again, the funeral home must provide you a price list for the outer caskets. Again, look for the lower priced containers and decide if they are suitable.
- Written Statement. Before you make any payment, you must be provided a written statement of exactly what goods and services you have elected and their individual prices. The written statement is detailed and should leave expense unlisted or poorly explained.
- Any expense that you are going to be charged that is required by law or by the cemetery or crematory must be explained in the written statement.
- If you elect for cremation, the funeral home must inform you of the availability and price of any "alternate containers" which you may elect to use at will. These alternate containers are often simple and cost effective for use in a cremation and are made of pressed wood, fiberboard, unfinished wood and even cardboard.
- Embalming is does not have to be performed. However, not electing for embalming may require the funeral service be performed within a shorter period of time that it would be otherwise. If the body is going to be viewed then some funeral homes require embalming. It may be possible to refrigerate the body if the funeral home has that ability but it will be up to the buyer to inquire about that.
- You may also elect to have a cremation or burial performed immediately.
In summary, the funeral rule allows the consumer to be in control of this most sensitive and important purchase. Knowing your rights will ensure that you can plan out the final expenses of death with the most dignity and peace possible.