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Funeral Arrangements

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission Rule governs the way funeral homes provide and present arrangements to the bereaved. Effective on July 19, 1994, the rule created protection for the individuals who used the services of the funeral homes in order to show the exact charges of the funeral services and all the other important details of the functions related to the funeral and burial.

The special rule detailed the information the funeral directors and homes were to provide to the consumer and how the details were formatted. The required format made the breakdown of the information into a contract that contained the vital information and disclosure statements from the funeral director.

The rule was designed to accomplish two things: make it easier for the bereaved to compare the services, prices of the services, and to make funeral arrangements that were more designed to the exact type of service the bereaved desired and could financially afford. This removed the deceptive practices of many funeral homes who took advantage of the bereaved in their vulnerable time of mourning.

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The relevant information contained on the new format helped the family’s to make a wiser decision regarding the services and goods for the function, which were transferred to the arrangement contract by the funeral director. The contract is official and has to be signed by both parties with the consumer receiving a copy of the contract. It is a legal binding contract for the purchases associated with the funeral as well as a testament to the services and prices of the funeral home and director. It also states the funeral home complies with the FTC rule.

The rule also governs the arrangements of the contract but also includes a General Price List and Outer Burial Container Price List. The important information is required by the rule for the funeral homes to provide the listings to the consumer for personal evaluation. The lists are also supposed to be displayed at all funeral homes. The disclosure of the pricing allows the consumer to be aware of the costs and have the choice to select a more reasonable company to have the funeral and burial.

The rule also requires the funeral director to answer all questions without vagueness that may be misleading. The director can give pricing for immediate cremations as well as the cost for each service or item. Yet until the director provides a complete arrangement, he cannot provide details or an accurate price. If a consumer did receive any type quote prior to making the final arrangements, the price is generally lower than the final true cost of all the services. When the services and items associated with the funeral are detailed and explained thoroughly, an actual price is provided.

The average price based on a 1990 Survey of Funeral Home Operations taken by the National Funeral Directors Association showed the regions with the most expensive services as follows:

1 – New England, 2 – Middle Atlantic, 3 – East North Central, 4 – West North Central, 5 – East South Central, 6 – Pacific, 7-  South Atlantic, 8 – West South Central, and  9 -  Mountain as the least expensive area.

There are terms to be considered that appear on the agreements such as “supervision and arrangements” that are the funeral home’s charges for the overhead of the professional staff. This constant amount is always charged for all arrangements by the bereaved. The funeral director needs to make money and there is not any room to reduce the fees unless the bereaved decides to have immediate burial or immediate cremation.

Both of the immediate services require less professional supervision that leads to fewer charges. In addition, there are provisions where additional fees can be added for nonlocal necessities such as out of are travel to the cemetery and additional death certificates or additional employees that are not currently on the company’s payroll for the required services.

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