The Bureau licenses funeral practitioners, funeral establishments and crematoriums. It also registers intern embalmers and investigates consumer/provider complaints. The Board also upholds high ethical standards for the industry.
You must give consumers a General Price List (GPL) when they inquire about funeral arrangements, whether by telephone or in person. You may offer package funerals, but you must also provide an itemized statement.
The funeral industry requires a license to operate. Licensed funeral directors and embalmers must complete educational requirements, pass national and state board exams, and serve an apprenticeship or internship. In addition, they must be of good moral character and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some states prohibit applicants with felony convictions from receiving a license. However, these matters are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally include: a high school diploma and a minimum of one or two years general collegiate coursework, mortuary college, and national and state board examinations. Licensing is also required for funeral establishments, crematoriums, and individuals engaged in the care and disposition of dead bodies.
Funeral providers must give a General Price List (GPL) to people who inquire in person about outer burial container offerings and prices. The GPL must contain at least the retail price of each type of outer burial container offered and enough information to identify each item. You do not have to send the GPL to people who make inquiries by telephone or mail, but you must provide them with the information upon request.
General price list
Price shopping funeral items and services can uncover savings and help you avoid overpaying. However, the emotional impact of losing a loved one can cloud judgment, so it is important to make thoughtful decisions and take your time. It is also important to understand your rights when you make arrangements with a funeral home or cemetery.
A discussion that includes prices or the selection of funeral goods and services triggers the requirement to offer a General Price List (GPL). This is true even if it takes place outside the funeral home. It is also a violation of the Rule to charge for a GPL or place conditions on its availability.
If you offer packages for direct cremations, your GPL must describe the services and container included in each price. You must also separately describe the price for forwarding and receiving remains and a basic services fee. You may include a description of the containers you offer in your GPL or incorporate this information into a book that contains photographs of each container.
The arrangements conference is a time set aside for the funeral director to meet with family members to discuss the details of a meaningful tribute and final disposition. This meeting can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, and it’s important that families are well-prepared. This will help them avoid any surprises or confusion during an already stressful and emotional time.
During the arrangement conference, a family should provide the funeral home with all necessary information about their loved one. This includes their social security number, birth and death dates, military status, place of death and more. This information is used to file the death certificate, request veterans burial benefits and life insurance claims.
During the arrangements conference, the funeral home should also present you with their General Price List and written descriptions of goods and services that they offer. They are required by law to give you this information before you sign any contracts.
While most funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories strive to provide excellent service and satisfaction, errors and misunderstandings do occur. If you are dissatisfied with a particular provider, it is important to communicate your concerns directly with him or her. Meeting face-to-face is the best way to do this, but you can also communicate via phone or letter.
Most states have a board, agency or bureau that oversees funeral and cemetery services within their borders. Once you locate this oversight group, contact them via telephone or letter and inquire about the complaint-submission process.
In California, the Funeral Consumer Advocate’s office licenses 13 distinct permitting classifications in the death care industry, including funeral establishments, embalmers, apprentice embalmers, cemetery brokers and salespeople, and nearly two hundred private cemeteries. It also investigates complaints and takes disciplinary action when necessary. It also establishes qualifications for funeral directors and embalmers, and ensures that mortuary science programs offer supervised internships for students.