A key requirement of the FTC’s Funeral Rule is that funeral homes must provide consumers with information in person or over the phone regarding prices BEFORE they start shopping or discussing services. The industry refers to the price list as a General Price List (GPL). In addition to a list of prices for funeral services, funeral homes must show consumers a detailed list of casket prices prior to showing caskets. The Rule also specifies that you can refuse any of the services except the fee for basic services.
You can request a copy of a funeral home’s GPL even if you are just “shopping around”, and they must give it to you to keep. However, with supplemental price lists such as the Casket Price List and Vault Price List, the funeral home must only show you this but they do not have to give it to you to keep.
Funeral homes have some discretion in how the information is presented. Often the fees are presented as wide ranges which has lead to a common complaint about the GPL. The complaint is that the price ranges are so wide that it makes it difficult to compare apples-to-apples. Also, many funeral homes present a long list of package options first, which can be overwhelming to shoppers. By understanding the GPL you can avoid making some unnecessary purchases or falling into pricing traps.
Things to know about the GPL:
- You have the right to decline any of the services offered on the price list EXCEPT the fee for “Basic Services of Funeral Director and Staff”.
- The GPL is also a sales tool. Funeral homes often present package prices up front. Make sure you know exactly what is in each package so that you don’t buy services you don’t need. A package may be exactly what you need, but you should look at the a la carte pricing as well as the package prices.
- Because the Funeral Rule only applies to Funeral Homes, third-party providers such as casket and monument companies are not required to provide you with the same type of price lists. Cemeteries are not covered by the rule unless they have an on-site funeral home.
What is Required on the GPL?
The General Price List must include prices for many of the most commonly offered services.
- Basic Services of Funeral Director & Staff (This is the only item on the GPL that CANNOT be declined.)
- Cost of Immediate Burial or Direct Cremation
- Transfer of the Body to the Funeral Home
- Forwarding Remains to Another Funeral Establishment
- Receiving Remains from Another Funeral Home
- Embalming Charges
- Fees for other Preparations of the Body
- Facilities and Staff for a Viewing, Funeral, or Memorial Service
- Charges for Funeral Vehicles
- Staff & Equipment for Graveside Services
- Casket Prices or a Range of Prices that are Listed on a
Separate Casket Price List
- Burial Container Prices or a Range of Prices that are listed on a
Separate Burial Container Price List
Historically, funeral homes have been hesitant to publish their General Price List on the Internet. This is slowly changing so you may be able to view the price list without ever going to the funeral home. You can look for providers in your area to see if the price list is online by using our provider search tool.
It is difficult to use the General Price List for head-to-head comparisons of different funeral homes but it can be done with some diligence. Once you have the lists for the funeral homes you are considering, look for the similarities and differences. Think about the kind of funeral you have in mind and review both the package prices and the a la carte selections. But remember, you do not have to purchase a package. The price list might not answer all the questions you have but it will give you a good background before you talk with the funeral director about your final selections.
Tip: Try our Wise Planning System to estimate your funeral costs. Unless you are a funeral director the GPL is difficult to use. A better way to estimate your funeral cost is to take advantage of our free funeral planning tools. See how with our simple Wise Planning System.
General Price List: Helpful Terminology
A minimum container usually made out of cardboard or fiberboard. Funeral homes are required to offer an alternative container for use with a cremation.
Basic Services Fee/Professional Services Fee
The basic, non-declinable fee charged by the funeral home. This typically includes the arrangement conference, overhead, filing of permits, certificates, and authorizations, sheltering of remains among other items that are necessary for all funerals.
Cash Advance Items List
Third-party items and services that must be paid in advance. Typically included are items such as flowers, officiant fees, and the cost to publish the obituary.
The placing of the body in the casket.
Crematory Fee (or Cremation Fee)
The fee for the actual process of cremation.
The deceased is cremated shortly after death. There is no funeral or memorial service.
Forwarding of Remains
A fee paid to the originating funeral home when that funeral home prepares and transfers the deceased to another funeral home.
In-ground burial without a viewing or ceremony.
Other Preparations of the Body
This fee covers the preparation of the deceased and typically includes cosmetology, reconstruction, and dressing.
Outer burial container
An outer burial container is a burial vault or grave liner.
Receiving remains from another funeral home
Price paid to the funeral home for receiving the remains prepared and transferred by another funeral home.
Washing and preparation of an unembalmed body
Shelter of Remains
Sheltering of remains for a reasonable period of time should be included in the basic services fee. If the burial or cremation goes past a specified time there may be additional charges.
Transfer of remains to funeral home
Price paid for the act of moving the remains from home (or hospital or nursing facility) to the funeral home
Use of equipment and staff for funeral
Price paid to the funeral home, staff, and funeral director for conducting the funeral ceremony
Use of equipment and staff for graveside service
Price paid for the funeral home staff and for use of funeral home equipment when conducting graveside services. Does not include cemetery fees.
Use of equipment and staff for memorial service
The price paid to the funeral home for the use of their staff and location for a memorial service
Use of equipment and staff for Viewing
Price paid to the funeral home and staff to conduct a public viewing of the deceased