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What should I know about buying funeral services and goods?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Buying funeral services and goods in Georgia Resources

Buying funeral services and goods in Georgia

What should I know? +

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What are funeral services and goods?

Whether you are preplanning your own arrangements or making plans for a loved one, it's good to know what services and goods you might want or need from a funeral provider. Funeral services and goods might include:

  • Caskets,

  • Burial plots,

  • Embalming or other preservation processes,

  • Cremation,

  • Burial vaults or grave liners. These are the containers that caskets are placed inside. States do not require them, but some cemeteries do.

  • Funeral or memorial services,

  • Any other mementos or goods sold by funeral providers. 

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What are my rights when dealing with a funeral goods and services provider?

There are both federal and state laws that make sure that funeral service providers deal fairly with the public. 

 

The Funeral Rule is a law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Funeral Rule allows you to only choose and pay for the goods and services you want or need. This rule applies whether you are making arrangements in advance or after a death. 

 

You have rights under the Funeral Rule, including the right to:

  • Only buy the goods and services you choose. This means that you do not have to buy a funeral package that includes things you do not want (like embalming or a memorial service).

  • Get price information over the phone without giving your contact information.

  • Get an itemized price list. This is called a General Price List. The funeral home must give you this list in writing.

  • Get a written casket price list before you are shown the caskets.

  • Get a written burial container price list. You have the right to look for a separate container price list. 

  • Get an itemized statement of exactly what you decide to buy with the cost of each item. 

  • Get a statement of any legal need to buy any certain goods or services.

  • Use an alternative contain for cremation. You do not have to buy a casket and the funeral home must tell you what is available.

  • Buy a casket or urn from somewhere else. The funeral home must allow you to use any urn or casket you want. They cannot charge you a fee to use an outside casket or urn.

  • Not buy embalming services. 

 

Georgia law requires that most cemeteries and funeral services providers register with the Secretary of State. Cemeteries who are registered must maintain their grounds. You have the right to see a complete schedule of charges for all services.

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What can I do? +

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How can I avoid funeral service scams?

As with all sales transactions, there is a chance the salesperson could try to pressure or scam you into buying services you don’t need or want. There are some basic things to look out for to avoid being scammed.

  • Shop around. Funeral homes must give you price lists over the phone and many put their pricing online. Comparing pricing and getting personal recommendations will help you avoid price gouging.

  • Check whether the funeral services director or embalmer is licensed with the Georgia Secretary of State.

  • There is no guarantee of how long any casket will preserve a body. Be wary if you are told expensive caskets will preserve a body for longer.

  • If you choose direct cremation, you do not need to also pay for embalming or a casket. A funeral director cannot tell that these are required by law. 

  • Before you prepay for any service, understand what happens to your money if later change your mind or the company goes out of business.

  • Carefully examine package deals. You may not want all of the services included in the package. 

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What can I do if I am a victim of unfair or deceptive dealings by a funeral services provider?

You can file a complaint of an unfair or deceptive business practice by a funeral services provider with the Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Division.  

 

If there is a violation of the Funeral Rule, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC does not investigate individual complaints but will investigate if they get multiple complaints.

 

If a funeral home breaks a contract, you can file a civil lawsuit. Consult an attorney to help understand your rights.

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Last Review and Update: Oct 05, 2020