Funeral costs include:
1. Basic services fee for the funeral director and staff
The Funeral Rule allows funeral providers to charge a basic services fee that
customers cannot decline to pay. The basic services fee includes services that
are common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement. These
include funeral planning, securing the necessary permits and copies of death
certificates, preparing the notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating
the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties. The fee
does not include charges for optional services or merchandise.
2. Charges for other services and merchandise
These are costs for optional goods and services such as transporting the
remains; embalming and other preparation; use of the funeral home for the
viewing, ceremony or memorial service; use of equipment and staff for a
graveside service; use of a hearse or limousine; a casket, outer burial
container or alternate container; and cremation or interment.
3. Cash advances
These are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from
outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices,
pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists. Some funeral
providers charge you their cost for the items they buy on your behalf. Others
add a service fee to their cost. The Funeral Rule requires those who charge an
extra fee to disclose that fact in writing, although it doesn't require them to
specify the amount of their markup. The Rule also requires funeral providers to
tell you if there are refunds, discounts or rebates from the supplier on any
cash advance item.
Calculating the Actual Cost
The funeral provider must give you an itemized statement of the total cost of
the funeral goods and services you have selected when you are making the
arrangements. If the funeral provider doesn't know the cost of the cash advance
items at the time, he or she is required to give you a written "good faith
estimate." This statement also must disclose any legal, cemetery or crematory
requirements that you purchase any specific funeral goods or services.
The Funeral Rule does not require any specific format for this information.
Funeral providers may include it in any document they give you at the end of
your discussion about funeral arrangements.