Understanding Your Rights Under the Funeral Rule

Navigating through the process of planning a funeral can be tough, especially during a time of grief. 

Recognizing this, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) introduced the Funeral Rule in 1984, a significant step aimed at safeguarding consumers’ interests against potentially unethical practices by some funeral homes. 

This comprehensive guide aims to arm you with the knowledge of your rights under this rule, ensuring the planning process is as stress-free as possible.

The FTC Funeral Rule—A Closer Look

Initiated on April 30, 1984, the Funeral Rule was the FTC’s response to growing concerns about the fairness and transparency of funeral home practices. It sought to empower consumers, enabling them to make informed decisions without feeling coerced into purchasing unnecessary services or products.

  • The Core Objectives: The rule’s primary objective is to promote openness about funeral services and merchandise. It aims to eliminate hidden fees and ensure families are fully informed about their options and the costs involved.

  • Addressing Industry Practices: By mandating clear communication and banning misleading practices, the Funeral Rule puts an end to the exploitation of grieving families, ensuring they’re treated with fairness and respect.

Know Your Rights

  • Choosing What’s Right for You: The rule assures you the freedom to select only the funeral goods and services you want, avoiding the pressure to buy more expensive package deals.

  • Clear Pricing Information: Funeral homes are required to provide a General Price List (GPL) that details all their offerings and their respective prices. This transparency is crucial in helping you make cost-effective decisions.

  • External Purchases: You’re entitled to purchase a casket or urn from outside sources without facing extra charges or penalties, providing more options to suit your preferences and budget.

  • Embalming Alternatives: Understanding that embalming isn’t a one-size-fits-all requirement, the rule allows for alternatives like refrigeration, or choosing services that don’t require embalming at all.

Upholding the Rule

  • Enforcing Honesty: The FTC keeps a vigilant eye on funeral homes, ensuring they adhere to the rule’s stipulations about clear and honest communication regarding funeral goods and services.

  • Misrepresentation Prohibitions: The rule explicitly prohibits funeral homes from misleading consumers about legal requirements for services like embalming or the type of casket necessary for cremation.

  • Continuous Monitoring and Training: Violations of the rule can lead to stringent penalties, including mandatory training programs to prevent future infractions.

Beyond Funeral Homes

While the Funeral Rule has brought significant improvements in transparency and fairness, it’s worth noting its limitations. Currently, its protections extend only to funeral homes and directors, leaving some areas like cemeteries and crematories outside its scope.

  • The Move to Digital GPLs: With the world moving online, the availability of General Price Lists on funeral homes’ websites marks a step forward in ensuring information is easily accessible, enabling you to compare options conveniently from home.

  • Planning Ahead: The rule also supports preplanning, allowing individuals to make arrangements in advance, relieving families of the burden during a time of loss.

Your Role in Enforcement

If you encounter a funeral home that seems to be flouting these regulations, you have channels to report such violations. This collective vigilance helps maintain the rule’s integrity, ensuring it continues to protect consumers effectively.


Understanding your rights under the Funeral Rule can significantly ease the burden of planning a funeral. 

It’s a crucial resource designed to protect you during a vulnerable time, ensuring you receive fair treatment and transparent information—particularly if you intend to shop around for deals and better prices, when buying a burial casket, flowers, or any other service you’d traditionally procure through a funeral home. 

Armed with this knowledge, you can approach funeral planning with confidence, knowing you’re well-protected by law.

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