Unfortunately, like in any industry, there are bad actors in the funeral business who aim to profit off of families during an emotional time. It is our mission is to educate our clients on the state-by-state rules and regulations, their substantial consumer rights provider per US funeral law, fight for our clients if they are pressured or wronged, and root out misbehavior in the industry. Below is a guide to your funeral rights and the law. If you feel your funeral director is breaking any of these rules, please let our legal team know: we will help you, and can also make complaints to Federal, State, and Local governing bodies on your behalf.
A State-by-State Guide to the Law and Your Rights with the Funeral Home
SECTION 1: THE FUNERAL RULE
WHAT IS “THE FUNERAL RULE”?
Federal Law covering Funeral Directors (known as ‘The Funeral Rule’) gives you the right to:
- Buy ONLY the funeral goods and services you want
- Buy separate goods ONLINE, like caskets, and provide the funeral homes with caskets purchased elsewhere, with no extra charges added
- Not have to accept a package with items you do not want
- Not be lied to, or have Federal and State laws and requirements misrepresented to you
WHAT DOES “THE FUNERAL RULE” MEAN FOR YOU?
- Buying a casket of coffin for sale online and arranging delivery to your selected Funeral Home for use in a Funeral Service is 100% legal in all 50 States
- Funeral providers cannot refuse to use a casket or coffin you bought online, or put unreasonable or onerous restrictions on when it must be delivered or who must receive delivery
- You cannot be charged an additional fee if you supply the casket – federal law prohibits funeral directors from charging “casket-handling” or other fees for people who purchase their casket online
- You cannot be required to purchase any goods or services that are not required by law – funeral homes are allowed to charge one non-declinable “basic” fee, but only one, and this should be for basic or required goods and services
- The funeral home may not lie about or misrepresent funeral or cemetery laws, rules, or regulations – if you are told something is required by law, ask for a copy of the law
- Other kinds of misrepresentations, such as to the quality of caskets or coffins bought online, or the likelihood of damages in transit, are also illegal. Consumer protection laws in most states also prohibit such deceptive practices., State Licensing Boards in all 50 states have the right to (and do) discipline Funeral Directors for dishonesty and misrepresentation, and Federal law also prohibits dishonest, deceptive, and unfair acts and practices.
Q1: DO I HAVE TO BUY A CASKET FROM THE FUNERAL HOME?
A1: No. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept caskets for sale that consumers have purchased from another source, such as online retailers like Casket Emporium.
Q2: ARE FUNERAL DIRECTORS ALLOWED TO PUT CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS ON ACCEPTING CASKETS FROM THIRD-PARTY PROVIDERS SUCH AS TITAN, SUCH AS DELIVERY TIMING RESTRICTIONS (WHEN THE CASKET MUST BE DELIVERED), AND WHO HAS TO ACCEPT/RECEIVE/SIGN FOR DELIVERIES?
A2: No. Federal law requires that deliveries of your goods are treated equitably to all other deliveries, including those that the funeral home buys directly.
Q3: ARE FUNERAL HOMES ALLOWED TO CHARGE HANDLING AND OTHER FEES FOR YOU USING A CASKET NOT PURCHASED FROM THEM?
A3: No. It is illegal for a funeral establishment to charge any additional fees if you purchased your coffin elsewhere.
Q4:CAN FUNERAL HOMES, CEMETERIES, OF CREMATORIES REJECT A CASKET NOT PURCHASED FROM THEM DUE TO PARTICULAR SIZE OR MATERIALS SPECIFICATIONS OR RESTRICTIONS?
A4: No. Third-party caskets must meet the cemetery’s or crematory’s standards and must take into consideration the size of the body, but most caskets conform to statutory size and materials rules and regulations in all 50 states, as well as the recommendations of all state and national Funeral, Cemetery, and Crematory industry organizations. A standard casket is about 80 inches long and 24 inches wide and can generally fit someone up to 6’10” and 350 pounds, but confirm dimensions with your funeral director. Extra-large caskets are available for larger adults, as well as small caskets for children and pets.
SECTION 2: HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FUNERAL HOME OR FUNERAL DIRECTOR
Q: HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FUNERAL HOME OR FUNERAL DIRECTOR?
You can easily file a complaint directly to a state’s funeral board or agency (find your state’s complaint form here), or ask an expert to do so on your behalf.
All states, except Colorado and Hawaii, have a funeral board or agency that regulates funeral directors. About half the states have some sort of cemetery regulation. In general, complaints should be addressed to the regulatory board when there is one. In addition, if there’s a possibility of criminal action, it would be a good idea to file a complaint with the state’s Attorney General’s and or Department of Consumer Affairs. These addresses can be found on the state government’s web site or check this link to the National Association of Attorneys General.
Usually, a funeral board or the state has a number of options. It can order a refund or reduction in the funeral bill, it can impose a fine, it can order an apology, or require additional education. It might issue a warning, place the offender on probation, or it might even revoke a license.
Taking a funeral director’s license is rarely done, however, and then only for the most outrageous misconduct, such as embezzling pre-need funeral money. Furthermore, once the complaint has been filed, you may never be informed of the outcome, as these “hearings” are generally held in closed meetings. That doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t file a complaint.
As well as cc’ing the FTC, make sure you send a copy of your complaint to the person or company you’re complaining about.
Click through to your state below to find the relevant form.
SECTION 3: STATE-BY-STATE FUNERAL LAWS
Q: WHAT IS THE FUNERAL HOME REGULATORY AGENCY IN MY STATE?
We read the state by state laws so you don’t have to. Find your state below to learn more about the Funeral Board and how to file a complaint.
- Alabama Funeral Laws
- Alaska Funeral Laws
- Arizona Funeral Laws
- Arkansas Funeral Laws
- California Funeral Laws
- Colorado Funeral Laws
- Connecticut Funeral Laws
- Delaware Funeral Laws
- Florida Funeral Laws
- Georgia Funeral Laws
- Hawaii Funeral Laws
- Idaho Funeral Laws
- Illinois Funeral Laws
- Indiana Funeral Laws
- Iowa Funeral Laws
- Kansas Funeral Laws
- Kentucky Funeral Laws
- Louisiana Funeral Laws
- Maine Funeral Laws
- Maryland Funeral Laws
- Massachusetts Funeral Laws
- Michigan Funeral Laws
- Minnesota Funeral Laws
- Mississippi Funeral Laws
- Missouri Funeral Laws
- Montana Funeral Laws
- Nebraska Funeral Laws
- Nevada Funeral Laws
- New Hampshire Funeral Laws
- New Jersey Funeral Laws
- New Mexico Funeral Laws
- New York Funeral Laws
- North Carolina Funeral Laws
- North Dakota Funeral Laws
- Ohio Funeral Laws
- Oklahoma Funeral Laws
- Oregon Funeral Laws
- Pennsylvania Funeral Laws
- Rhode Island Funeral Laws
- South Carolina Funeral Laws
- South Dakota Funeral Laws
- Tennessee Funeral Laws
- Texas Funeral Laws
- Utah Funeral Laws
- Vermont Funeral Laws
- Virginia Funeral Laws
- Washington Funeral Laws
- West Virginia Funeral Laws
- Wisconsin Funeral Laws
- Wyoming Funeral Laws
SECTION 4: PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE FUNERAL HOME
Q: HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY FUNERAL HOME VISIT?
- Before you visit, prepare a draft of your preferences for the service and burial.
- Ask for a General Price list of itemized goods and services. DO NOT mention that you plan to purchase your casket, coffin, or other items from an external vendor.
- Select the list of goods and services that you want. You are the client and in charge of the process.
- Do not leave without a Statement of Funeral Goods and Services, outlining your funeral plan.
- Contact external vendors to price compare and finalize your funeral plan.
More detail and advice on your visit to the funeral home:
It is recommended that you visit your funeral provider with a sense of your preferences for the service and burial. This will help to narrow your focus amidst the vast range of available choices.
General Price List
Before discussing or agreeing to any specific arrangements, ask your provider for a General Price List. This “GPL” itemizes the various goods and services the provider offers, and how much they cost, so consumers may choose only those elements of a funeral that they want. The Funeral Rule requires that funeral providers offer a GPL prior to any discussion of funeral arrangements or pricing.
If you are interested in supplying your own casket or coffin, we recommend that you have a GPL in hand before discussing it with your funeral provider.
Statement of Funeral Goods and Services
At the end of the discussion of funeral arrangements, the funeral provider must give the consumer a completed Statement of Funeral Goods and Services. This is an itemized list of the goods and services that the consumer has selected. The statement allows consumers to evaluate their selections and make any desired changes.