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Contacting a Funeral Home? Know Your Rights First

The loss of a loved one is devastating. There's no way to put a value on that feeling. Yet, one of the first things families must do after their loved one passes is to have a funeral. The average cost of a funeral is over $7,600 across the United States, though that price can be much higher depending on specific needs.

An affordable Funeral home knows that families typically want to do all they can for their loved one. Many locations are respectable and supportive while others may not be. Some use the grief and pain the family feels to take advantage of them, providing inflated pricing or not being fully honest with family members. It’s important to know your rights, and most importantly, what a funeral home can and cannot do.

You Don’t Need to Buy Cremation Urns From a Funeral Home
Perhaps one of the most important things for family members to know is that they do not have to purchase an urn or casket from the funeral home in order to use the company’s services. Why is this so important to understand?

Some funeral homes put a significant amount of pressure on family members to select a casket or urns for human ashes when selecting the cremation option. It’s common to meet with a funeral director, talk about your loved one’s needs, and then be ushered into a large room filled with options to choose from. The price tags are often scary. Instantly, a family is faced with the “requirement” to choose what they wish to use. 

In nearly every situation like this, there is no discussion about the right of the family member to purchase a casket, urns for cremation or cremation urns for burial from any other location. Sometimes, a sales professional will simply stand and wait until a decision is made.

What families don’t know is that they can often find very similar or better options from a third-party seller. They may also spend a fraction of the funeral home’s caskets or burial urns for cremated remains at these other locations. In fact, a potential mark up of 300 to 800% is not uncommon for the exact same products.

With more options and sometimes better pricing without any delay or complicated process, families could reduce their overall funeral cost and still ensure their loved one’s wishes are carried out.

It’s the Law
You have the right under U.S. law to provide the funeral home with a casket or urns for cremation ashes that you purchased elsewhere, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The funeral home cannot legally refuse to handle a casket or cremation urns for human ashes purchased elsewhere, including one that is purchased online.

They cannot charge you a fee for using your provided materials. They also cannot require that you are present when the casket or memorial urn or is delivered to the funeral home from the third-party seller.

Federal law provides you with a number of rights when a loved one passes. Consider the following.

Click here for the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule

Buy the Arrangements You Want
You should not be pressured to purchase services that you do not want or need for your loved one. You have the right to purchase services, including embalming services and memorial services, from other providers. Also, note that you have the right to say ‘no’ if the funeral home offers a package that includes those services. Only buy the individual services and items that you want or need.

See a Price List
Before you make any buying decisions, you have the right to see an itemized price list provided by the funeral home specifically for your services. This price list should include all of the services the location offers and the prices associated with them. After they provide you with this information and you decide what you want, the funeral home must honor the prices listed. Get Information Over the Phone. You also have the right, under law, to request pricing for cremation memorial urns or caskets, or other information over the phone. You do not have to come to the funeral home to get this information. You also do not have to provide your contact information when you call, including your name, address, or phone number.

Get a Casket or Urn Price List Before You See Them
Casket rooms are beautiful. However, some of the most lavish components are added to caskets to make you want to buy the most expensive models. Before you walk into that room, you have the right to see a written casket price list. That way, you can decide beforehand what you want to spend.

Should You Buy Caskets or Wood or Metal Cremation Urns From the Funeral Home?
As you approach a funeral home for services, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Research the Funeral Home
Before you make the decision to purchase anything, try to do some research. Start with choosing a funeral home that is supportive and capable of providing compassion. It’s also important to recognize sales pressures that sometimes come in the form of good intentions. If the location offers caskets and funeral urns for human ashes that appeal to you, take a few minutes to compare pricing and overall options in style, colors, and materials from other providers.

Let Them Know You Know Your Rights
If you receive any pushback from the funeral home about purchasing your own products or making decisions about your loved one’s final preparations, turn to another provider. If you don’t want to do that, be upfront with the funeral home - tell them that you know your legal rights. Click here for the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule

Set a Budget
Choose what works for your family’s needs and religious beliefs. At the same time, recognize that you can keep funeral costs within a budget, especially if you are choosing urns for ashes of loved ones. It’s not uncommon for families to leave a funeral home feeling guilty about what they could not do. Instead, focus on providing the best end-of-life service for your loved one.
While this is one of the most trying times for many people, it’s critical that family members recognize that even the most seemingly caring facility is a for-profit organization. Protect yourself from those that may not be as forthcoming.