Know Your Consumer Rights

Planning for a burial or cremation is usually a rare, stressful time when buyers are grieving, easily confused, and vulnerable. Consumer advocates had long urged federal protection and in 1984, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted “The Funeral Rule” to provide greater consumer rights. Currently, these consumer rights include:

  • Receiving a written list of prices for the goods and services provided by the funeral establishment (called a General Price List, or GPL), prices for specific caskets (Casket Price List or CPL), and prices of outer burial containers and vaults (Outer Burial Brice List or OBPL).
  • Getting these lists at the start of a consultation at the funeral establishment. Prices may also be obtained on the telephone.
  • Buying only what is wanted, including the right to refuse embalming. (The one exception is a mandatory “professional fee”).
  • Buying a casket elsewhere.
  • Buying an outer container elsewhere.
  • Receiving a final, itemized bill of sale.
  • Not being misled by false claims, such as that embalming or particular caskets or vaults will preserve the body.

For a full list of rights and more information, see the FTC’s articles on the Funeral Rule (link at bottom).

The Funeral Rule is clearly a step in the right direction. Compliance, however, remains incomplete. Consumer advocates have continued to urge further reforms and the FTC is presently revising the Funeral Rule to require funeral homes and cremation services to post their pricelists on their websites and to
clarify their policies. The final decisions are expected in 2024. We’ll keep you posted!

Alas, a Connecticut consumer wrong continues. Our state is one of seven that requires a licensed funeral director to transport an unembalmed body. Since no one dies already embalmed, this means that everyone who dies in Connecticut must be taken to a funeral home or cremation service and
given over the funeral personnel. Even if you want a direct burial without embalming and have family ready to do all the paper work and arrange a burial, you are forbidden to do so and required to shop and pay at the funeral establishment. In 43 other states, people are allowed to bury their own kin; our Connecticut law seems a wrong that-needs righting!

Links and references

This page was revised on 4/17/2024.