‘Funeral rules’ allow you to understand your rights - The Daily News: Health

‘Funeral rules’ allow you to understand your rights

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 3:00 pm

The death of a family member is one of the most difficult times that a person can experience. You are grieving and yet you must make decisions about the final farewell.

A funeral is one of the most expensive purchases a person makes in his lifetime right behind a home and a car.

The Federal Trade Commission has a set of “Funeral rules” that require funeral homes to follow. To start with, a casket,  the single most expensive item – $2,000-$10,000 – requires the funeral director to show you a list of caskets the company sells, with the prices, before showing you the caskets.

Industry statistics show, on average, casket shoppers buy one of the first three models shown, generally the middle priced of the three. So it is in the best interest of the funeral home to start out by showing you the higher end models first. If you haven’t seen some of the lower priced models, ask to see them.

Remember, no casket, regardless of its cost or quality, will preserve a body forever. Gasketed, protected or sealer caskets have a rubber gasket that is designed to delay the penetration of water into the casket. The funeral rules forbids claims that these features help preserve the remains indefinitely because they don’t. They just add to the cost of the casket.

More and more showrooms and websites are now selling caskets. You can buy a casket from one of these dealers and have it shipped directly to the funeral home. The funeral rule requires funeral homes to agree to use a casket you bought elsewhere and doesn’t allow them to charge you a fee for using it.

Burial vaults, or grave liners, are not required by state law. However, some cemeteries do require some type of outer burial container to prevent the grave from sinking in the future. It is illegal for funeral providers to claim that a vault will keep water, dirt or other debris from penetrating into the casket if that is not true.

In a traditional funeral, the vault, or liner, is placed in the ground before burial and the casket is lowered into it at burial.

Once again, the funeral rule states a funeral provider is required to give you a list of prices and descriptions before you select a model for any outer burial container.

No process or product has been devised to preserve a body in the grave indefinitely. The funeral rule prohibits a funeral provider from telling you it can be done.

Many families choose to have their loved ones cremated. Under the funeral rule, the funeral director who offers cremation:

• May not tell you that state or local law requires a casket for direct cremation, because none do

• Must disclose in writing your right to buy an unfinished wood box or an alternative container for a direct cremation

• Must make an unfinished wood box or other alternative container available for direct cremations.

Source Federal Trade Commission

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