Knowing Your Rights at a Funeral Home
On average, funeral arrangements will cost families a total of $10,000. This makes burying a relative one of the biggest expenses a family will face in their lifetime. With the pressure of add-ons and misinformation, many are conned into extra expenses at their most vulnerable time.
The 1963 bestseller “The American Way of Death” by Jessica Mitford exposed the predatory practices in the death-care industry, leading to regulations being passed in 1984 to restrict abuse. Most often referred to as the Funeral Rule, these regulations are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.
Despite these regulations, a three-month long investigation conducted by MONEY found these same hazards are still a present threat to consumers. In fact, during the Federal Trade Commission’s spot check last year, it found nearly one in four funeral homes were in serious violation of the Funeral Rule. The biggest violation was a failure to disclose prices, meaning consumers were not only unable to shop around but were often surprised by prices down the line.
One of the top problems is misleading buyers regarding state and federal laws, such as claiming remains can only be transporting through state lines for outrageous fees. According to consumer advocates, the same occurs with cemeteries, leading to extra, unnecessary cost to grieving families.
The Funeral Rule’s most important requirement for families to know is that cost information must be available over the phone and that they can ask for, and must be provided with, an itemized price list in person. This helps families stay within their price point and have everything on paper for comparison. In the same area, goods and services can have a difference of 164%, making it important to stay prudent in one of the hardest times of their lives.
Families also have the right to only purchase goods and services of their choosing. Funeral homes that offer all or nothing packages are in violation of the Funeral Rule. While directors may pressure a family into a package, they can stick to their bottom line. Having the comparison information ahead of time can help families stick to that bottom line. Funeral homes that don’t offer the list of services are best left unused for these trying times.
If you feel you have been taken advantage of or have dealt with a funeral home or cemetery that is not compliant with the law, you need experienced legal help. At Bochetto & Lentz, we understand your rights and will advocate on behalf of those rights. Contact us today to find out how our team of attorneys can help.