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.
- 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.