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The FTC’s Funeral Rule: Helping Consumers Make Informed Decisions During Difficult Times

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 under great emotional duress. What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should be used? Should the body be buried, cremated, or donated to science? What are consumers legally required to buy? What other arrangements should be planned? And what is it going to cost? Under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, consumers have the right to get a general price list from a funeral provider when they ask about funeral arrangements. They also have the right to choose the funeral goods and services they want (with some exceptions), and funeral providers must state this right on the general price list. If state or local law requires purchase of 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 bought elsewhere, and a provider offering cremations must make alternative containers available. The FTC conducts undercover inspections every year to make sure that funeral homes are complying with the agency’s Funeral Rule. The Funeral Rule applies anytime a consumer seeks information from a funeral provider, whether the consumer is asking about pre-need or at-need arrangements.