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«Federal Trade Commission | business.ftc.gov Contents Introduction.......................................... ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Complying With the

Funeral Rule

Federal Trade Commission | business.ftc.gov


Introduction...................................................................... 1

Who Must Comply With the Funeral Rule?............................................ 1

Does the Rule Apply to Pre-Need Arrangements?

The General Price List............................................................. 2 Who Gets a GPL?

When Should the GPL Be Offered?

What About Phone or Mail Inquiries?

Does the Rule Require the GPL Be Given to Keep?

What About the GPL and Pre-need Arrangements?

Information Required on the GPL.................................................... 4 Identifying Information Required Disclosures on the GPL Required Itemized Prices on the GPL Alternative Price Lists for Special Groups........................................... 11

1. Children and Infants

2. Government Agencies

3. Religious Groups and Memorial Societies The Casket Price List: Information and Use.......................................... 12 Information to be Included Using the Casket Price List The Outer Burial Container Price List: Information and Use............................ 13 Information to be Included on the OBC Price List Using the OBC Price List

Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected:

Cost Information and Disclosures.................................................. 15 Cost Information Disclosures Telephone Price Disclosures....................................................... 17 Misrepresentations Prohibited by the Rule.......................................... 17

1. Embalming

2. Casket for Direct Cremation

3. Outer Burial Container

4. Legal and Cemetery Requirements

5. Preservative and Protective Value Claims

–  –  –

Endnotes.......................................................................30 Introduction These guidelines are intended to help you, the funeral provider, comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) Funeral Rule. The Funeral Rule went into effect on April 30, 1984. The Commission revised the Rule early in 1994; revisions became effective later that year.

The Funeral Rule requires you to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and various other

disclosures about funeral goods and services. In addition, the Rule prohibits you from:

• misrepresenting legal, crematory, and cemetery requirements;

• embalming for a fee without permission;

• requiring the purchase of a casket for direct cremation;

• requiring consumers to buy certain funeral goods or services as a condition for furnishing other funeral goods or services; and • engaging in other deceptive or unfair practices.

If you violate the Funeral Rule, you may be subject to penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

These guidelines do not amend or modify the Rule. They explain the requirements of the revised Funeral Rule and discuss how to prepare documents required by the Rule — the General Price List, the Casket Price List, the Outer Burial Container Price List, and the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected. The guidelines also include sample price lists and a sample itemized statement form.

These guidelines represent the FTC staff’s view of what the law requires. They are not binding on the Commission.

Who Must Comply With the Funeral Rule?

All “funeral providers” must comply with the Rule. You are a funeral provider if you sell or offer to sell both funeral goods and funeral services to the public.

Funeral goods are all products sold directly to the public in connection with funeral services.

Funeral services are:

• services used to care for and prepare bodies for burial, cremation, or other final disposition; and • services used to arrange, supervise, or conduct the funeral ceremony or final disposition of human remains.

You are a funeral provider if you sell or offer to sell funeral goods and both types of funeral services. You do not have to be a licensed funeral director and your business does not have to be a licensed funeral home to be covered by the Funeral Rule. Cemeteries, crematories, and other businesses can also be “funeral providers” if they market both funeral goods and services.

You must comply with the Rule even if a particular consumer buys only goods or only funeral services, but not both. If you offer to sell both goods and services, you must comply with the Rule for every customer. However, you are not covered by the Rule if you sell only funeral goods, such as caskets, but not services relating to the disposition of remains.

You are covered by the Rule even if you organize your business to sell goods through one company and services through another. If you are a funeral provider, you cannot avoid being covered by the Rule by restructuring your business.

Does the Rule Apply to Pre-Need Arrangements?

The Rule's requirements, as described on the following pages, apply to both pre-need and at-need funeral arrangements.

In pre-need situations, you must comply with all Rule requirements at the time funeral arrangements are pre-planned. You also need to comply with the Rule after the death of the individual who made pre-need arrangements. If the survivors inquire about goods or services, alter the pre-planned arrangements, or are required to pay additional sums of money, you must give them all relevant disclosures and price lists.

For example, survivors may be asked to pay additional amounts if the pre-paid plan does not guarantee prices at the time of death. In other cases, survivors may change arrangements specified in the pre-need plan, adding or subtracting certain goods or services. In both situations, the requirements of the Rule apply. You must give the survivors relevant price lists, as well as an itemized Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.

You also must comply with the Rule if you sell pre-need contracts on behalf of one or more funeral homes, but do not yourself provide funeral goods and services. In such a case, even though you don't provide the funeral items, you are an agent of a funeral provider and therefore are covered by the Rule.

The Rule does not apply to pre-need contracts entered into before the Rule went into effect in 1984.

However, if a pre-need contract signed before 1984 is modified after 1984, the modification triggers all of the Rule's requirements.

Example: Mr. Green made pre-need arrangements in 1980; he dies in 2010. At the time of his death, his wife wants to change the casket specified in the pre-need contract and to add visitation hours.

Because Mrs. Green is changing the contract after 1984, the funeral provider must comply with all of the Rule's requirements, including giving Mrs. Green a General Price List, showing her a Casket Price List, and providing her with an itemized Statement of Goods and Services Selected.

Note: In a situation like the example, you should check your state law to determine whether it allows you to alter the terms of such a contract.

The General Price List The General Price List (GPL) is the keystone of the Funeral Rule. It must contain identifying information (see page 4), itemized prices for the various goods and services that you sell (see pages 7-11), and other important disclosures (see pages 5-7). The GPL enables consumers to comparison shop and to purchase, on an itemized basis, only the goods and services they want.

Who Gets a GPL?

You must give the General Price List to anyone who asks, in person, about funeral goods, funeral services, or the prices of such goods or services. You must give the GPL to such individuals to keep.

The request for information does not have to come from a consumer or someone who wants to make funeral arrangements now or in the future. You must give a GPL to all persons who inquire about funeral arrangements. This may include competitors, journalists, and representatives of businesses, religious societies, government agencies, or consumer groups.

Note: If someone asks you about the goods and services that you sell, you must give that person a General Price List. If you are uncertain whether the Rule applies in a particular situation, it would be sensible to provide the list.

When Should the GPL Be Offered?

You do not have to hand out the General Price List as soon as someone walks into your business. But,

you must offer the price list when you begin to discuss any of the following:

• the type of funeral or disposition that you can arrange;

• the specific goods and services that you offer; or • the prices of your goods and services.

Before giving a GPL to a bereaved individual, you may offer your condolences and discuss preliminary matters like veteran’s benefits or death certificates.

The triggering event for giving out the GPL is a face-to-face meeting. The face-to-face meeting can occur anywhere, not just at the funeral home. For example, you must give out a General Price List even if the discussion of prices or arrangements takes place in the family’s home or while removing the deceased from a hospital or a nursing home. You should tell your employees to carry extra price lists with them.

Exception: You are not required to offer a General Price List if you remove the deceased for transportation to the funeral home and, at that time, only request the authorization to embalm. When

you request authorization to embalm, however, you also must:

Disclose that embalming is not required by law (except in special cases, if relevant); and Refrain from further discussion about prices or the selection of funeral goods or services while you remove the deceased. Any further discussion of prices or the selection of goods or services at this time would trigger the requirement to provide a GPL.

What About Phone or Mail Inquiries?

You must give certain information to people who telephone (see page 17), but the Rule does not require you to send callers a General Price List. Similarly, you do not have to send a GPL in response to mail inquiries about funeral goods and services. Of course, you certainly are free to send a GPL to someone who calls or writes for information if you wish to do so. However, if a telephone or mail inquiry is followed up by a meeting at the funeral home or elsewhere, you must provide a GPL at that time.

Note: Some states require funeral providers to mail a price list upon request. You should check to see what the requirements are in your state.

Does the Rule Require the GPL Be Given to Keep?

A verbal offer of a GPL is not enough to comply with the Rule. You cannot merely tell consumers that a GPL is available for inspection. You also cannot show them a GPL in a booklet or binder where it appears that there is only one copy available or that the booklet is solely for the funeral director's use. You must physically offer consumers a General Price List that they can keep and take home with them. If the consumer does not want to accept or look at the General Price List, you do not have to do anything else.

However, you should do nothing to discourage customers from looking at the GPL, such as telling them that it is unnecessary or difficult to understand.

Note: You cannot charge a fee for the price list or place any conditions upon giving consumers information that the Rule requires you to give to them. You must give all required information to anyone who asks, free of charge.

What About the GPL and Pre-need Arrangements?

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