When the occasion arises for the need to hire the services of a funeral home, being an informed consumer will help to make the process easier and less stressful. This guide provides an overview of funeral rights that work to protect consumers when shopping for a service provider. Included are helpful tips and suggestions on how to find the right funeral home and afford the costs.
When you shop around for a funeral home, you do not want to feel pressured into paying for expensive service arrangements or package deals that you do not need. The government protects consumers from questionable funeral home practices as outlined within the Federal Trade Commission’s FTC Funeral Rule. The laws detail the many ways in which funeral home providers must follow strict guidelines when offering services to customers. Some of these laws include:
Consumers are not required to select and pay for costly bundled funeral services that include unnecessary items.
Funeral homes must provide visitors seeking information about service costs with a General Price List (GPL) that includes detailed itemized expenses.
Consumers must have access to separate price lists for caskets when the General Price List (GPL) does not include the costs.
An alternative container or urn is an option for consumers to select when requesting cremation. Consumers are not required to use a casket.
Searching for and locating the right funeral home can be accomplished with ease when using the Digital Memorial network of providers. The site maintains a listing of more than 2,000 service providers that offer funeral and cemetery services as well as cremation. The search tool results for the Philadelphia area has a listing of 50 funeral service providers from which to choose. A few of the featured providers include Westminster Cemetery and Glenwood Memorial Gardens.
Another option for consumers to explore is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can search through the listings of funeral home providers within the BBB Accredited Business Directory for the Philadelphia area. Highlights of using this tool include the ability to read available reviews and ratings and see any possible complaints filed against home service providers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has some helpful information to help consumers when comparison-shopping for funeral services.
Aside from the option of having a life insurance policy in place, other ways to afford the costs of funeral expenses include arranging a prepaid contract with a service provider. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines several innovative ways in which consumers can effectively plan with a prepayment agreement. Depending on the details within the agreement, some options include placing the funds into a trust that is state-regulated to provide some protection to consumers.
If you decide to go the route of setting up a prepayment agreement, make sure that you understand and have in place stipulations for possible issues that may arise. You must know how to proceed if the funeral home closes their business. Other areas to consider include options for cancellation. Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) funeral pricing checklist, which provides additional helpful tips and suggestions.
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