Funeral homes serve the needs and interests of the people in regards to funeral planning. But while some funeral homes are highly professional and consider it their duty to serve the mankind, there are some who work for making profits only. It has been found that some funeral homes take advantage of their clients through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges or unnecessary services. But as a consumer you can protect yourself from such situation by having some knowledge about the Funeral Rule.
In the United States in the year 1914, the Federal Trade Commission was formed as a government agency under the supervision of President Woodrow Wilson. The main purpose behind the formation of this government agency is to do a thorough investigation of the funeral industry and do way with unfair practices. On the basis of the findings and investigation, the Funeral Rule was formed in the year 1984, and it later got amended in the year 1994.
The Funeral Rule was formed to help consumers get the correct information regarding the goods and services that they need to buy from a funeral home in order to organize a funeral service. The Funeral Rule has detailed information regarding who are authentic funeral homes; list of funeral goods and different types of funeral services that can be offered by funeral homes; various consumer rights that must be respected by the funeral homes; and the various guidelines as per which funeral homes must operate their business. According to the Funeral Rule, all the funeral homes and funeral directors working in the USA must comply with The Funeral Rule.
Some of the basic points mentioned at the Funeral Rule that one must remember during funeral planning are:
- As a consumer you can select the number of funeral goods and services you want as per your preferences and the wishes of the deceased. The funeral home cannot force you in making your decision.
- As per the law, the funeral homes must give you a general price list (GPL) in writing that states the prices of the goods and services selected by you. Also the funeral home cannot charge a fee for providing a price list to a consumer who has asked for it through a phone call or mail.
- In the state where you reside has some specific law that requires you to buy any particular good or service, it must be mentioned on the price list offered to you by the funeral provider. Also a reference to the specific law regarding the particular good or service must also be mentioned in writing.
- If a consumer wants to casket or urn on their own, the funeral provider cannot refuse to use it. Also the funeral provider cannot charge you an extra fee to do that.
- The funeral homes who offer the facility of cremation must provide alternative containers where the body of the deceased can be kept.
- No funeral provider can charge you for embalming that you didn’t authorize unless embalming is compulsory as per the state law.
- A written acknowledgement must be provided by the funeral home to the consumer stating that consumers do not have to purchase a package funeral arrangement.
Note: At www.us-funerals.com, you can find a complete list of funeral homes in the USA.
In the Funeral Rule, there is also detailed information about the fee pattern charged by a funeral home. All funeral homes charge a basic service fee for their services and consumers need to pay the basic service fee. The structure of basic service fee include fees for some of the common services that must be include in a funeral service, like planning the funeral on the date and time preferred by the consumer; getting all the necessary permits to arrange the funeral service and death certificate copies; sheltering of the dead body; making arrangement of obituary notices; coordinating various arrangements with the cemetery, or other third-party.
The Funeral Rule also makes special clarification regarding optional goods or services for which funeral homes charge extra money. Anything else including cash advance items that is not mentioned in the basic service fee structure can be purchased from a funeral home at an extra cost. Some of the optional goods or services for which you need to pay extra money are transportation charges of the dead body; embalming or preparation of the dead body for viewing; use of the funeral home; hearse for transporting the dead body to the cemetery; caskets or urns; pallbearers and so on.
Also you need to make advance cash payments for any goods or services that the funeral home needs to buy from third-party. Some of the items for which you need to make advance payments are flowers; obituary notice; clergymen fees, and organist. As per the Funeral Rule, the funeral home must mention it in writing about the premium charged by them for cash advance items. It is up to the funeral home to charge the exact amount to their customers, or mark-up fees. But no matter what, things should be disclosed in writing by the funeral homes to their customers. It is also compulsory for funeral homes to disclose in writing whether any refunds or discounts are available in case of cash advance items.
As far as funeral practices are concerned, every individual and family has their own concept. Cost, religion, cultural belief and personal preference are taken into consideration while planning for a funeral. Keeping this very point in mind, the Funeral Rule also offers information about the different types of funeral options that a consumer has the right to select. A consumer can opt for a traditional or full service funeral; immediate burial and direct cremation.
By knowing your rights as a consumer you can make better decisions when it comes to funeral planning.
For more information on this topic, visit the below mentioned websites:
Filed under: Funeral