When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral – all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should you use? Should you bury or cremate the body, or donate it to science? What are you legally required to buy? What other arrangements should you plan? And, as callous as it may sound, how much is it all going to cost?
Each year, Americans grapple with these and many other questions as they spend billions of dollars arranging more than
2 million funerals for family members and friends. The increasing trend toward pre-need planning – when people make funeral arrangements in advance – suggests that many consumers want to compare prices and services so that ultimately, the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one.
Many funeral providers offer various “packages” of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. But when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy individual goods and services. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
According to the Funeral Rule:
- you have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions).
- the funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list.
- if state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
- the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
- a funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.
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