The funeral bureau regulates all funeral homes, directors and embalmers. It investigates consumer complaints and provides information to the public about the industry.

Whether you make arrangements for a home funeral in advance or leave money for survivors to pay for your final wishes, you can save money by comparing prices and services. Contact your local or state funeral board for details.


In addition to funeral arrangements, a funeral bureau may provide other services related to the disposal of a dead body, such as arranging for a grave or crematory or providing transportation to the cemetery or crematorium. In these cases, the funeral establishment must comply with applicable laws.

Some funeral providers enter into agreements with religious groups or burial societies to arrange funerals for members at special prices. When a representative of these organizations inquires about funeral arrangements, you must make your price lists available to them.

If you charge a non-declinable fee for basic services of the funeral director and staff, it must be listed separately on your General Price List together with the required disclosures. This fee must include all charges for overhead that are not allocated to the other goods and services you sell. You cannot include a separate charge for a casket handling fee, for example, as this falls outside of the three categories allowed under the Rule.


Depending on where you live, your funeral home may be licensed by your state’s Funeral Board. Licensing requirements can vary widely between states, but most require you to pass a state law exam and national funeral service standards exam. Some boards also require you to complete continuing education courses to keep your license active.

Unless you offer only package funerals, you must provide a General Price List (GPL) to any consumer who asks in person about funeral goods and services or prices. This rule applies even if you discuss prices with consumers over the phone or in writing. It also applies if you are removing a body from the hospital or a private residence, or while providing transportation to the cemetery.

The California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau licenses embalmers, funeral directors, funeral establishments, incinerated remains disposers and almost 200 private cemeteries in the state. It also investigates complaints against these businesses and can take disciplinary action when necessary.


Many families come into a funeral home with little or no money to cover final expenses. An effective insurance program increases at-need calls, protects the funeral home’s market territory, solves account receivable problems and provides commission income.

Funeral insurance is very similar to other types of life insurance. A monthly premium is paid, which goes towards a lump sum upon death that can be used for whatever the beneficiary desires. Typically, this figure is not restricted to just funeral costs and can also be used for debts, fees incurred with the management of an estate or other costs related to death.

Burial insurance policies are available through independent or captive life insurance agents, as well as some funeral service providers. Some providers even offer pre-need and prepaid funeral plans to help consumers plan ahead. There are also several affordable burial insurance options for individuals with limited funds or a poor health history, including Simplified Issue and Guaranteed Issue policies.

Final Arrangements

When a loved one dies, survivors must quickly make many decisions under great emotional duress. These include the choice of a funeral home, whether to bury or cremate, and final arrangements. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (Bureau) promotes consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education, investigation, consistent interpretation and application of the laws governing funeral homes and cemeteries.

Some funeral providers enter into agreements with religious or burial societies to arrange funerals for society members at special prices. If you offer these arrangements, you must follow the Rule’s requirements when an individual from the society inquires about goods and services or alters a pre-need contract. You must give the survivor a General Price List, Casket Price List and an itemized Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected. You may add these items to your regular price lists or prepare separate price lists for these situations. You must also comply with the other Rule provisions.

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