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Funerals 101

Legal Protections Under The Federal Funeral Rule

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The Funeral Rule is a federal law that makes it easier to choose only those goods and services that you want or need and to pay only for those items that you select.

  • The law requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if you ask, over the phone.
  • The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give you other information about their goods and services, as well. For example, if you ask about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list to keep that shows the good and services that the funeral home offers.
  • If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices BEFORE actually showing you the caskets. (See Caskets.)
  • The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to handle a casket if you purchase it somewhere else. It also provides that you cannot be charged extra for using your own casket instead of one purchased from the funeral home.
  • While many funeral providers offer various "packages," you have the right to buy individual goods and services. You do not have to accept a package that may include items that you do not want.
  • The Funeral Rule does not apply to cemeteries unless they sell both funeral goods and funeral services.
  • If it turns out that you don't like a funeral home, you are permitted to switch to a different home, even if the body has already been delivered to a particular funeral home. The home you're leaving can charge for services to that date, but cannot hold the body hostage for payment
  • The Funeral Rule is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. If you believe the Rule has been violated, you can obtain an informal read of the situation by contacting the Funeral Consumer Alliance at 800.458.5563 or at offsite link.


  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, along with a reference to the specific law.
  • A funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available. The provider cannot require you to purchase a casket for cremation.
  • A funeral provider may not provide embalming services without permission, and may not state that embalming is required by law if it is not. See Embalming.

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