My father passed away two days ago, and I was contacted by the funeral home that is handling the arrangements. They told me that I, as one of his next of kin, have to sign an authorization for him to be cremated. When they sent me the forms via email to sign online, there were also payment agreement forms. The software they use does not allow you to just sign the authorization form, you have to sign the payment agreement forms as well, or it will not allow you to send them back to the funeral home. When called, the funeral home says my younger sister (whom my father has resided with for many years) has paid the costs, but we have to sign the payment agreement forms anyway. I am involved in bankruptcy at the moment and cannot sign any forms that state I am responsible for payment without the court’s approval. Even if they are being truthful, that my sister has paid, it will still take weeks to get the court to approve my signing the forms. When I asked if they could just resend the paperwork with the cremation authorization only, they called instead of replying by email and refused to send just the cremation authorization forms. They said, “Just sign all the forms so we can cremate your father.” I have refused to sign them, as they are trying to coerce me into breaking the law. My question is… is it common for funeral homes to refuse to let you sign just the cremation authorization without an agreement for payment?
The funeral home does need your authorization to cremate, so they are correctly requiring your signature to do the cremation. However, that is completely separate from agreeing to be financially responsible.
In general, the funeral home would create a Statement of Goods and Services Selected contract that itemizes all the services and merchandise your family selected for your father’s cremation. The cremation charge should be listed on that contract, and that is what they expect to be signed by the financially responsible person.
It sounds like your sister is the financially responsible person, so there is no need for you to sign any “payment agreement forms”. You should be able to sign the cremation authorization without signing anything else. You should never just “sign all the forms” without being sure of what you are signing. You do have consumer protection rights under the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule.
If are you are not local to be able to go the funeral home, then I would recommend that you call the funeral home again and ask to speak to the manager. You do not need to sign to authorize payment in order to sign as a next of kin for the cremation when your sister has already done this.
I am very sorry for the loss of your father, and I hope this gets resolved quickly without adding additional burden to you or your sister at a time when you are grieving.