When a loved one passes away, one of the most difficult things survivors must do is plan the funeral and service. It can be both financially and emotionally exhausting. Unfortunately, those in the funeral business sometimes take advantage of that grief and oversell or upcharge surviving loved ones for funeral services and burial items. What many people do not know is that you have rights when planning a funeral. To help ensure that you do not fall victim to those who would take advantage of your grief when planning a funeral, the Long Island attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm explain the Funeral Rule and the rights you have when planning a funeral.
What Is “The Funeral Rule?”
Prior to the existence of The Funeral Rule, it was easy for providers to throw in unexpected costs and raise prices on the spot when surviving loved ones were planning a funeral. Focused on their grief, loved ones often went along with these inflated and unexpected costs and fees. In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission enacted The Funeral Rule to reign in these predatory practices. Today, all funeral providers are required to comply with the provisions of The Funeral Rule.
What Rights Does “The Funeral Rule” Give Me?
The Funeral Rule bestows a number of important rights on grieving loved ones and imposes several important duties and responsibilities on funeral providers. Among those are your right to:
- Buy only the funeral arrangements you want. You may be offered a “package” deal that includes things you do not want. You have the right to buy separate goods and services instead of paying for a package deal that includes things you don’t want and should not have to purchase.
- Get price information on the telephone. Although they will try and get contact information from you before giving you pricing information, you are not required to give it to them. In fact, they are required to give you price information over the phone.
- Get written itemized price lists. You are entitled to a written, itemized price list well as a written casket list and a written burial container price list when you visit a funeral home. The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. If the casket prices are not included in the GPL, you are entitled to a separate casket price list that may include lower-priced products that may not be on display. Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells containers, but doesn’t list their prices on the GPL, you have the right to look at a separate container price list before you see the containers.
- Receive a written statement. Before you pay, you have a right to receive a written statement showing exactly what you are buying and the cost of each item.
- Get a written explanation of requirements. If there are any legal cemetery or crematory requirements that include the need to pay for specific funeral goods or services, you have a right to a written explanation describing those requirements.
- Use an “alternative container” for cremation. No state or local law requires a specific container for cremated ashes. You can provide your own container purchased online or from anywhere else. They are also not allowed to charge you a fee for using a container purchased elsewhere.
- Make funeral arrangements without embalming. People often assume that embalming is required. Not true. No state law requires routine embalming; although, many funeral homes have a policy that requires embalming if there is to be a public viewing and some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time.
Do You Have Questions about Your Rights under The Funeral Rule?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about your rights when planning a funeral, contact the Long Island estate planning attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm by calling us at 631-265-0599 to schedule your appointment.