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Funeral Rule

Advance Planning » Funeral Rule


The Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule ( is a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Funeral Rule makes it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select.  Note: Federal agencies may protect both the consumer and an industry; therefore, know what you are buying.

The Funeral Rule gives you the right to:

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want.  You have the right to buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service).
  • Receive price information by phone Funeral directors must give you price information over the telephone if you request it.  You don’t have to give them your name, address or telephone number first.
  • Obtain a written itemized price list when you visit a funeral home.  The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep.
  • Review a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets.  Often casket prices are provided on a separate casket price list.
  • Review a written outer burial container price list.  State law anywhere in the U.S. does not require an outer burial container (also called grave liner, vault or cement box). However, many cemeteries require an outer burial container to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells these containers, but does not list the prices in the GPL, you have the right to look at a separate container price list and ask whether it includes the lower prices before you see the containers.
  • Receive from the funeral home a statement with individual prices for all selected goods and services, including the total price. You must receive this statement immediately after making arrangements. Verify charges before paying.
  • Obtain a written explanation (statement) for any cemetery or crematory extra costs.
  • Receive information from cremation providers about alternate containers.  No state or local law requires the use of a casket for cremation.  Containers can be made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or cardboard.
  • Purchase a casket or urn from a different supplier. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought somewhere else nor can the funeral provider charge you an extra fee.  The funeral provider cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to the funeral home.
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming.  Routine embalming is not required by state law. Some states require refrigeration or embalming if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time. Some states don’t require it at all.  In most cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative. Services like direct cremation or immediate (direct) burial can be chosen that do not require embalming. Many funeral homes have a policy requiring embalming if the body is to be publicly viewed, but this is not required by law in most states.  Ask if the funeral home offers private family viewing without embalming. If some form of preservation is a practical necessity, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is available. Always inquire if refrigeration costs are included or charged separately.

This summary of the “Funeral Rule” is from Funerals: A Consumer Guide and from Funeral Rule 16 CFR Part 453: “Funeral Rule Text”, then “16 CFR 453.”

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