In addition to regulating funeral establishments, embalmers, and morticians, the Board also investigates consumer complaints. The Board will not license an individual or establishment that has been convicted of criminal wrongdoing.
Funeral consumers are protected by law from many different kinds of fraud. Funeral consumers should get a full itemized statement of services and goods before signing a contract. They should not be charged for items they have already purchased elsewhere.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau regulates cemeteries, funeral homes, funeral directors, embalmers and crematories. It also takes complaints from consumers. If you have a complaint about a licensed cemetery, funeral home or embalmer, you can send it to the board by mail, email, telephone or fax.
The Bureau licenses, manages and examines complaints against 13 distinct permitting classifications in California totaling approximately 13,500 licensees. These classifications include funeral establishments, funeral directors, apprentice embalmers, memorial service foundations, graveyard intermediaries/branch/extra, cemetery salespersons, crematory managers and the nearly 200 private cemeteries in the State.
The FCA offers a number of free publications for families planning a funeral or cremation and can help them avoid high-cost add-ons and services. It also monitors industry trends and practices, advocates for regulatory reform and tracks pending legislation. The FCA also maintains a directory of member groups across the country. If you want to learn more about the organization, visit their website or contact them by phone or email.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance
The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that monitors the funeral industry, keeping a close eye on trends and advocating for fair practices on behalf of consumers. It also offers clear, objective facts about funerals so families can make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
Funeral homes are often viewed as one of the most trusted institutions in our communities, but they are not immune to greed and overcharging customers. As such, consumers can be easily taken advantage of during an emotional time of grief when they are unaware of all their options.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance, which has a national network of over 100 local affiliate groups (memorial societies or funeral planning organizations), is an important resource that saves grieving families money by price-shopping funeral costs for them. It also encourages consumers to make advance directives through Five Wishes, a simple living will that makes it easy to express your end-of-life wishes to loved ones.
The International Cemetery and Cremation Association
The International Cemetery and Cremation Association is a membership-based organization that provides education, networking and legislative guidance to progressive cemeteries, funeral homes, crematories and memorial designers. ICCFA is the only international trade association that represents all segments of the funeral service industry.
In addition to the educational aspect of ICCFA, it also hosts an annual convention and exposition. This year, the event was held in Kansas City and had over 1,000 attendees.
Among the 2023 convention speakers was Lee Longino, Senior Managing Director for SCI’s Major East Business Unit and an ICCFA Board Member. Longino is a second-generation funeral director and embalmer with 35 years of experience in the deathcare profession.
One of his presentations, When the body arrives in a Prius: What Cemetery Staff Needs to Know About Green Burial Families, discussed how the cemetery can educate and prepare family members to take care of their loved ones without the help of a funeral director or embalmer. Another of his presentations, Green design & innovation: Restoration ecology in the hybrid cemetery, described how a green cemetery at West Laurel Hill in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania will assist ecological succession from wildflower meadow to woodland.
The California Funeral Board
The California Funeral Board licenses funeral establishments; funeral directors, including apprentice directors; embalmers and apprentice embalmers; cemetery brokers, salespersons, and managers; and cremated remains disposers, crematories, and hydrolysis facilities. The Board also investigates consumer/provider complaints and enforcement actions and promotes a fair and informed marketplace.
When a loved one dies, family members often have to make dozens of decisions under intense emotional duress. These decisions can include what funeral home to use, whether or not to have a casket, and where the body will be buried or cremated.
It is illegal for a funeral home to charge interest on unpaid balances, and it is not legal to list any fees that aren’t listed in the Good Faith Estimate (GFE). These rules protect consumers from unfair practices and help them make informed choices.