BBB Advice for Navigating the Funeral Process

At an average cost of $7,000, funerals are one the more expensive purchases made by consumers. During an emotionally-charged time it can be easy to spend more than might be necessary. Better Business Bureau recommends the following advice for navigating the funeral process.

Most funeral providers offer a variety of package plans that include products and services that are most commonly sold. However, it’s important to remember that no package is obligatory and it’s important to take the time, even though it may be constricted, to find the individual products and services that you prefer. The “Funeral Rule,” enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to give you itemized prices in person and, if asked, over the phone.

The Funeral Rule:

  • You have the right to choose the funeral goods and services that you want (with some exceptions).
  • The funeral provider must state this “Rule” in writing on the general price list.
  • If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law.
  • The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket that you bought elsewhere.
  • A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

Can You Pre-Plan A Funeral? 

One way to reduce stress during a time of grief is pre-planning. The National Funeral Directors Association offers a “Bill of Rights for Funeral Preplanning” (www.nfda.org/planning-a-funeral/preplanning.html) that its members follow. You do not have to prepay for a funeral in order to preplan one, although there may be financial benefits to doing so.

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About Kelsey Owen

Kelsey Owen is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC and Eastern PA. Prior to December 2014, Kelsey was the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Council of Better Business Bureaus based out of Arlington, VA. Kelsey graduated from Denison University with a degree in economics and communication and is currently pursuing a master's degree in media entrepreneurship.