When a loved one passes away, one of the most challenging tasks for survivors is the planning of the funeral and related services. This process can be emotionally and financially draining. Regrettably, some individuals in the funeral industry take advantage of the grief-stricken and engage in practices like overselling or inflating prices for funeral services and burial items. What many people may not be aware of is that they possess specific rights when arranging a funeral. To ensure that you don’t become a victim of those who seek to exploit your emotional vulnerability during this difficult time, the Los Angeles attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain what you need to know about “The Funeral Rule.”
What Is “The Funeral Rule”?
Before the implementation of The Funeral Rule, funeral service providers had the freedom to add unexpected expenses and increase prices while survivors were in the process of planning a funeral. Often, grieving loved ones, overwhelmed by their emotions, would agree to these inflated and unanticipated costs and fees. In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission established The Funeral Rule to curb these predatory practices. Today, all funeral providers are obligated to adhere to the regulations set forth in The Funeral Rule.
What Rights Does “The Funeral Rule” Afford Me?
The Funeral Rule grants a range of significant rights to grieving family members and imposes several essential obligations on funeral service providers. Among these rights are:
- Choose only the funeral arrangements you desire. You should not be pressured into accepting a “package” deal that includes services or items you do not want. You have the right to select individual goods and services instead of being compelled to purchase a package that includes unwanted elements.
- Receive price information over the phone. Funeral providers are obliged to provide price information over the phone. They may request your contact information but are not permitted to withhold pricing details until they obtain it.
- Obtain written itemized price lists. When visiting a funeral home, you are entitled to receive a written, itemized price list, a casket price list, and a burial container price list. The funeral home must provide you with a General Price List (GPL) that you can keep. If casket prices are not included in the GPL, you have the right to request a separate casket price list, which may include lower-cost options that are not on display. Although state law does not mandate outer burial containers anywhere in the U.S., many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from collapsing. If the funeral home sells containers but does not list their prices on the GPL, you have the right to view a separate container price list before deciding.
- Receive a written statement. Before making any payments, you are entitled to a written statement that clearly outlines what you are purchasing and the cost of each item.
- Receive a written explanation of any requirements. If there are any legal requirements from cemeteries or crematories that necessitate the purchase of specific funeral goods or services, you have the right to a written explanation detailing those requirements.
- Use an “alternative container” for cremation. No state or local laws mandate the use of a specific container for cremated remains. You have the option to provide your own container, which can be purchased online or from another source. Funeral service providers are not allowed to charge you a fee for using a container obtained elsewhere.
- Make funeral arrangements without embalming. Contrary to common misconceptions, embalming is not always mandatory. There is no state law that necessitates routine embalming. However, some funeral homes may have a policy requiring embalming if there will be a public viewing, and a few states may mandate embalming or refrigeration if the body is not to be buried or cremated within a specified timeframe.
Do You Have Additional Questions Your Rights?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about the rights you have under The Funeral Rule, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.