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Navigating Funeral Choices: Your Rights Under the FTC Funeral Rule

Federal trade commission building

In the challenging and emotional times surrounding the loss of a loved one, making funeral arrangements can be an overwhelming experience. As a funeral consumer, it’s crucial to be aware of your rights and the protections afforded to you by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule. This rule aims to ensure transparency and fairness in the funeral industry, including the purchase of caskets. One significant aspect of the Funeral Rule is that funeral homes are required to accept caskets from third-party sellers, giving consumers more choices and control over their funeral decisions.

Understanding the FTC Funeral Rule:

The FTC Funeral Rule is a set of regulations designed to empower consumers with clear and honest information when making funeral-related purchases. Key provisions of the rule include itemized price disclosure, the right to choose individual funeral products and services, and the freedom to use a casket purchased from a third-party seller.

Crucial Point: Under Law, Funeral Homes Must Accept Third-Party Caskets Without Imposing An Additional fee.

One notable provision of the Funeral Rule is that funeral homes are obligated to accept caskets from third-party sellers. This means that as a consumer, you have the right to purchase a casket from a seller other than the funeral home itself, and the funeral home must accept and use that casket without imposing any additional fees or restrictions.

The Funeral Rule gives you the right to:

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want. You have the right to buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service). You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
  • Get price information on the telephone. Funeral directors must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it. You don’t have to give them your name, address, or telephone number first. Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.
  • Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. It lists all the items and services the home offers, and the cost of each one.
  • See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets. Sometimes, detailed casket price information is included on the funeral home’s GPL. More often, though, it’s provided on a separate casket price list. Get the price information before you see the caskets, so that you can ask about lower-priced products that may not be on display.
  • See a written outer burial container price list. Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells containers, but doesn’t list their prices on the GPL, you have the right to look at a separate container price list before you see the containers. If you don’t see the lower-priced containers listed, ask about them.
  • Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, and before you pay. It should show exactly what you are buying and the cost of each item. The funeral home must give you a statement listing every good and service you have selected, the price of each, and the total cost immediately after you make the arrangements.
  • Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.
  • Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation. No state or local law requires the use of a casket for cremation. A funeral home that offers cremations must tell you that alternative containers are available, and must make them available. They might be made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or cardboard.
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming. No state law requires routine embalming for every death. Some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time; some states don’t require it at all. In most cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative. In addition, you may choose services like direct cremation and immediate burial, which don’t require any form of preservation. Many funeral homes have a policy requiring embalming if the body is to be publicly viewed, but this is not required by law in most states. Ask if the funeral home offers private family viewing without embalming. If some form of preservation is a practical necessity, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is available.

Benefits of Third-Party Casket Purchases:

  1. Cost Savings: Purchasing a casket from a third-party seller can often be more cost-effective than buying directly from the funeral home. This allows consumers to allocate their budget more efficiently during a difficult time.
  1. Wider Selection: Third-party sellers typically offer a broader range of casket options in terms of style, material, and price. This variety allows consumers to choose a casket that best reflects the preferences and wishes of the deceased and their family.
  1. Consumer Empowerment: Acceptance of third-party caskets empowers consumers to make informed decisions and exercise greater control over their funeral arrangements. This flexibility aligns with the spirit of the FTC Funeral Rule, promoting a fair and competitive marketplace.

Tips for Consumers:

  1. Research Third-Party Sellers: Before making a decision, research reputable third-party casket sellers to ensure the quality and reliability of the products they offer.
  1. Communicate with the Funeral Home:
    • If you choose to purchase a casket from a third-party seller, communicate openly with the funeral home. Provide them with the necessary information and documentation, ensuring a smooth and respectful process.
    • Ask the funeral director if a standard size casket will accommodate your loved one’s remains. If not, ask the funeral director to provide the third-party seller with the accommodations necessary.
  1. Document the Transaction: Keep records of your casket purchase, including receipts, communication with the third-party seller, and any agreements made with the funeral home. This documentation can be valuable in case of any concerns or disputes.


Understanding your rights under the FTC Funeral Rule is crucial when navigating the funeral planning process. The ability to purchase a casket from a third-party seller not only provides financial benefits but also empowers you to make choices that align with your preferences and budget. By being informed and assertive in your decisions, you can create a meaningful and respectful farewell for your loved one while navigating the process with confidence and peace of mind.


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