Each year, people spend billions of dollars arranging funerals for family and friends.
When a loved one dies, grieving family members are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral — all of which must be made quickly and often under a lot of emotional stress.
The Funeral Rule, a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, gives the people who are making funeral arrangements some important rights. And it establishes some basic requirements for funeral homes.
If you sell funeral goods and services, you’ll want to know how to comply.
The Funeral Rule applies to all funeral providers.
You’re considered a funeral provider if you sell both funeral goods and funeral services to the public.
You don’t have to be a licensed funeral director or a licensed funeral home for the Rule to apply to you.
Cemeteries, crematories, and other businesses also are covered by the Rule if they sell both funeral goods and services.
If you’re a third-party seller—like a casket or monument dealer, or a cemetery that doesn’t have a funeral home on-site—the Funeral Rule doesn’t apply to you.
If your business is covered by the Funeral Rule, each violation could cost you up to $16,000.
Here’s a quick look at the major provisions of the Funeral Rule:
You must give potential clients a written price list at the start of any in-person discussion about funeral arrangements.
This General Price List should include the items and services you offer, and the cost of each one.
You also must show potential clients a casket price list or outer burial container price list before you show them any caskets or vaults.
The Rule allows you to include prices for caskets and outer burial containers on the General Price List instead of providing them on separate lists.
If someone asks about your prices or services by telephone, you must give them accurate information over the phone.
However, you aren’t required to send them a written price list.
You can’t require someone to buy certain funeral goods or services they don’t want just so they get the items they do want.
That means you can’t require someone to buy a “package” of goods and services that includes items they don’t want.
You can’t say the law requires someone to buy a particular item or service if that is not true.
If such a legal requirement does exist, you must disclose and describe that requirement in writing on the itemized statement of goods and services you provide.
You can’t refuse to handle a casket or urn the customer bought somewhere else.
And you can’t charge a fee to handle it, either.
And finally, you can’t charge for embalming without the client’s authorization, unless the practice is required by state law.
That’s a quick summary of some of the key provisions of the Funeral Rule. For more details on how to comply, visit business.ftc.gov/funerals.