LITTLE ROCK — Upon the death of a loved one, grieving family members must quickly make decisions about funeral arrangements. Those decisions may be difficult for the bereaved at a time of such emotional duress.
The array of options — including what type of funeral to have and what funeral provider to use — may be overwhelming. However, the federal Funeral Rule helps to simplify choices for those in grief and ensures that consumers’ rights are protected following the loss of a loved one.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to inform Arkansas consumers about the Funeral Rule.
The law, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, ensures that funeral providers give consumers clear, itemized price lists for the products and services that they offer so that consumers can make informed choices based upon their budget and their needs. This also allows consumers to compare prices among funeral providers.
“In their time of need, consumers can take solace in the fact that laws are in place to help them avoid purchasing unnecessary products or services by making sure that funeral homes clearly disclose their prices,” McDaniel said. “Consumers who choose to do so may request price lists from multiple funeral providers to find one that fits their needs.”
Many funeral homes offer package prices for funeral arrangements, though the Funeral Rule gives consumers the right to buy separate goods or services. Consumers are not required to accept packages that include items they do not want. For instance, consumers may choose to buy a casket elsewhere or forego a ceremony or memorial service. The FTC urges consumers to resist pressure to buy goods or services they do not want or need.
Funeral homes must provide a general price list when consumers visit a funeral home. The general price list must list the products and services offered by the funeral home and the cost of each item. Funeral homes are also required to provide price information over the telephone when requested.
The Funeral Rule also requires funeral homes to give consumers a written statement detailing exactly what was purchased, the cost of each item and the total cost immediately after arrangements are made.
Another provision of the rule states that caskets are not required to be purchased when a body is to be cremated. Instead, funeral homes that offer cremations must inform consumers that alternative containers, such as those made of unfinished wood or fiberboard, may be used.
While outer burial containers such as burial vaults or grave liners are not required under state law, many cemeteries require them. Under the Funeral Rule, funeral homes must also disclose those prices, and it is not required for an outer burial container to be purchased from the funeral home directing arrangements.
McDaniel joined the FTC in encouraging consumers to consider funeral planning in advance, since that gives time to research funeral homes for the best prices and relieves some of the burden from family members and friends.
For more information about the Funeral Rule, visit www.ftc.gov.
Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-482-8982 or visit the division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.