Basics

Family Owned
and Operated
Federal Trade Commission's
Trade Regulation Rule on Funeral Practices.

Authority: Sec. 6(g) 38 Stat. 721 (15 U.S.C. 46(g); 80 Stat. 383, as amended, 81 Stat. 54 (5 U.S.C. 552). Source: 47 FR 42299, Sept. 24, 1982, unless otherwise noted.

453.1 Definitions.

(a) Accounting year. ``Accounting year'' refers to the particular calendar year or other one year period used by a funeral provider in keeping financial records for tax or accounting purposes.

(b) Alternative container. An ``alternative container'' is a non-metal receptacle or enclosure, without ornamentation or a fixed interior lining, which is designed for the encasement of human remains and which is made of cardboard, pressed-wood, composition materials (with or without an outside covering) or pouches of canvas or other materials.

(c) Cash advance item. A ``cash advance item'' is any item of service or merchandise described to a purchaser as a ``cash advance,'' ``accommodation,'' ``cash disbursement,'' or similar term. A cash advance item is also any item obtained from a third party and paid for by the funeral provider on the purchaser's behalf. Cash advance items may include, but are not limited to, the following items: Cemetery or crematory services; pallbearers; public transportation; clergy honoraria; flowers; musicians or singers; nurses; obituary notices; gratuities and death certificates.

(d) Casket. A ``casket'' is a rigid container which is designed for the encasement of human remains and which is usually constructed of wood, metal, or like material, and ornamented and lined with fabric.

(e) Commission. ``Commission'' refers to the Federal Trade Commission.

(f) Cremation. ``Cremation'' is a heating process which incinerates human remains.

(g) Crematory. A ``crematory'' is any person, partnership or corporation that performs cremation and sells funeral goods.

(h) Direct cremation. A ``direct cremation'' is a disposition of human remains by cremation, without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony with the body present.

(i) Funeral goods. ``Funeral goods'' are the goods which are sold or offered for sale directly to the public for use in connection with funeral services.

(j) Funeral provider. A ``funeral provider'' is any person, partnership or corporation that sells or offers to sell funeral goods and funeral services to the public.

(k) Funeral services. ``Funeral services'' are any services which may be used to care for and prepare deceased human bodies for burial, cremation or other final disposition; and arrange, supervise or conduct the funeral ceremony or the final disposition of deceased human bodies.

(l) Immediate burial. An ``immediate burial'' is a disposition of human remains by burial, without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony with the body present, except for a graveside service.

(m) Outer burial container. An ``outer burial container'' is any container which is designed for placement in the grave around the casket including, but not limited to, containers commonly known as burial vaults, grave boxes, and grave liners.

(n) Person. A ``person'' is any individual, partnership, corporation, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or other entity.

(o) Services of funeral director and staff. The ``services of funeral director and staff'' are the services, not included in prices of other categories in 453.2(b)(4) which may be furnished by a funeral provider in arranging and supervising a funeral, such as conducting the arrangements conference, planning the funeral, obtaining necessary permits and placing obituary notices.

(p) Unfinished wood box. An ``unfinished wood box'' is an unornamented casket made of wood which does not have a fixed interior lining.

[49 FR 563, Jan. 5, 1984]

453.2 Price disclosures.

(a) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to fail to furnish price information disclosing the cost to the purchaser for each of the specific funeral goods and funeral services used in connection with the disposition of deceased human bodies, including at least the price of embalming, transportation of remains, use of facilities, caskets, outer burial containers, immediate burials, or direct cremations, to persons inquiring about the purchase of funerals. Any funeral provider who complies with the preventive requirements in paragraph (b) of this section is not engaged in the unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined here.

(b) Preventive requirements. To prevent these unfair or deceptive acts or practices, as well as the unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined in 453.4(b)(1), funeral providers must:

(1) Telephone price disclosures. (i) Tell persons who call the funeral provider's place of business and ask about the terms, conditions, or prices at which funeral goods or funeral services are offered, that price information is available over the telephone.

(ii) Tell persons who ask by telephone about the funeral provider's offerings or prices any accurate information from the price lists in paragraphs (b)(2) through (4) of this section which reasonably answers the question and any other information which reasonably answers the question and which is readily available.

(2) Casket price list. (i) Give a printed or typewritten price list to people who inquire in person about the offerings or prices of caskets or alternative containers. The funeral provider must offer the list upon beginning discussion of, but in any event before showing caskets. The list must contain at least the retail prices of all caskets and alternative containers offered which do not require special ordering, enough information to identify each, and the effective date for the price list. In lieu of a written list, other formats, such as notebooks, brochures, or charts may be used if they contain the same information as would the printed or typewritten list, and display it in a clear and conspicuous manner. Provided however, That funeral providers do not have to make a casket price list available if the funeral providers place on the general price list, specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the information which is required by this paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section.

(ii) Place on the list, whether a printed or typewritten list or other format is used, the name of the funeral provider's place of business and a caption describing the list as a ``casket price list.''

(3) Outer burial container price list. (i) Give a printed or typewritten price list to persons who inquire in person about outer burial container offerings or prices. The funeral provider must offer the list upon beginning discussion of, but in any event before showing the containers. The list must contain at least the retail prices of all outer burial containers offered which do not require special ordering, enough information to identify each container, and the effective date for the prices listed. In lieu of a written list, the funeral provider may use other formats, such as notebooks, brochures, or charts, if they contain the same information as the printed or typewritten list, and display it in a clear and conspicuous manner. Provided however, That funeral providers do not have to make an outer burial container price list available if the funeral providers place on the general price list, specified in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the information which is required by this paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section.

(ii) Place on the list, whether a printed or typewritten list or other format is used, the name of the funeral provider's place of business and a caption describing the list as an ``outer burial container price list.''

(4) General price list. (i) Give a printed or typewritten price list for retention to persons who inquire in person about funeral arrangements or the prices of funeral goods or funeral services. When people inquire in person about funeral arrangements or the prices of funeral goods or funeral services, the funeral provider must offer them the list upon beginning discussion either of funeral arrangements or of the selection of any funeral goods or funeral services. This list must contain at least the following information:

(A) The name, address, and telephone number of the funeral provider's place of business;

(B) A caption describing the list as a ``general price list'';

(C) The effective date for the price list; and

(D) In immediate conjunction with the price disclosures required by paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section, the statement: ``This list does not include prices for certain items that you may ask us to buy for you, such as cemetery or crematory services, flowers, and newspaper notices. The prices for those items will be shown on your bill or the statement describing the funeral goods and services you selected.''
(ii) Include on the price list, in any order, the retail prices (expressed either as the flat fee, or as the price per hour, mile or other unit of computation) and the other information specified below for at least each of the following items, if offered for sale:

(A) Forwarding of remains to another funeral home, together with a list of the services provided for any quoted price;

(B) Receiving remains from another funeral home, together with a list of the services provided for any quoted price;

(C) The price range for the direct cremations offered by the funeral provider, together with: (1) A separate price for a direct cremation where the purchaser provides the container; (2) separate prices for each direct cremation offered including an unfinished wood box or alternative container; and (3) a description of the services and container (where applicable), included in each price;

(D) The price range for the immediate burials offered by the funeral provider, together with: (1) A separate price for an immediate burial where the purchaser provides the casket; (2) separate prices for each immediate burial offered including a casket or alternative container; and (3) a description of the services and container (where applicable) included in that price;

(E) Transfer of remains to funeral home;

(F) Embalming;

(G) Other preparation of the body;

(H) Use of facilities for viewing;

(I) Use of facilities for funeral ceremony;

(J) Other use of facilities, together with a list of facilities provided for any quoted price;

(K) Hearse;

(L) Limousine;

(M) Other automotive equipment, together with a description of the automotive equipment provided for any quoted price; and

(N) Acknowledgment cards.

(iii) Include on the price list, in any order, the following information:

(A) Either of the following:

(1) The price range for the caskets offered by the funeral provider, together with the statement: ``A complete price list will be provided at the funeral home.''; or

(2) The prices of individual caskets, disclosed in the manner specified by paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section; and

(B) Either of the following:

(1) The price range for the outer burial containers offered by the funeral provider, together with the statement: ``A complete price list will be provided at the funeral home.''; or

(2) The prices of individual outer burial containers, disclosed in the manner specified by paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section; and

(C) Either of the following:

(1) The price for the services of funeral director and staff, together with a list of the principal services provided for any quoted price and, if the charge cannot be declined by the purchaser, the statement: ``This fee for our services will be added to the total cost of the funeral arrangements you select. (This fee is already included in our charges for direct cremations, immediate burials, and forwarding or receiving remains.)''; or

(2) The following statement: ``Please note that a fee for the use of our services is included in the price of our caskets. Our services include (specify).'' The statement must be placed on the general price list together with casket price range, required by paragraph (b)(4)(iii)(A)(1) of this section, or together with the prices of individual caskets, required by (b)(4)(iii)(A)(2) of this section.

(5) Statement of funeral goods and services selected. (i) Give an itemized written statement for retention to each person who arranges a funeral or other disposition of human remains, at the conclusion of the discussion of arrangements. The statement must list at least the following information:

(A) The funeral goods and funeral services selected by that person and the prices to be paid for each of them;

(B) Specifically itemized cash advance items. (These prices must be given to the extent then known or reasonably ascertainable. If the prices are not known or reasonably ascertainable, a good faith estimate shall be given and a written statement of the actual charges shall be provided before the final bill is paid.); and

(C) The total cost of the goods and services selected.

(ii) The information required by this paragraph (b)(5) of this section may be included on any contract, statement, or other document which the funeral provider would otherwise provide at the conclusion of discussion of arrangements.

(6) Other pricing methods. Funeral providers may give persons any other price information, in any other format, in addition to that required by paragraphs (b) (2), (3), and (4) of this section so long as the statement required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section is given when required by the rule.

453.3 Misrepresentations.

(a) Embalming Provisions -- (1) Deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to:

(i) Represent that State or local law requires that a deceased person be embalmed when such is not the case;

(ii) Fail to disclose that embalming is not required by law except in certain special cases.

(2) Preventive requirements. To prevent these deceptive acts or practices, as well as the unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined in 453.4(b)(1) and 453.5(2), funeral providers must:

(i) Not represent that a deceased person is required to be embalmed for direct cremation, immediate burial, a funeral using a sealed casket, or if refrigeration is available and the funeral is without viewing or visitation and with a closed casket when State or local law does not require embalming; and

(ii) Place the following disclosure on the general price list, required by 453.2(b)(4), in immediate conjunction with the price shown for embalming: ``Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement which does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.''

(b) Casket for cremation provisions -- (1) Deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to:

(i) Represent that State or local law requires a casket for direct cremations;

(ii) Represent that a casket (other than an unfinished wood box) is required for direct cremations.

(2) Preventive requirements. To prevent these deceptive acts or practices, as well as the unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined in 453.4(a)(1), funeral providers must place the following disclosure in immediate conjunction with the price range shown for direct cremations: ``If you want to arrange a direct cremation, you can use an unfinished wood box or an alternative container. Alternative containers can be made of materials like heavy cardboard or composition materials (with or without an outside covering), or pouches of canvas.'' This disclosure only has to be placed on the general price list if the funeral provider arranges direct cremations.

(c) Outer burial container provisions -- (1) Deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods and funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to:

(i) Represent that State or local laws or regulations, or particular cemeteries, require outer burial containers when such is not the case;

(ii) Fail to disclose to persons arranging funerals that State law does not require the purchase of an outer burial container.

(2) Preventive requirement. To prevent these deceptive acts or practices, funeral providers must place the following disclosure on the outer burial container price list, required by 453.2(b)(3)(ii), or, if the prices of outer burial containers are listed on the general price list, required by 453.2(b)(4), in immediate conjunction with those prices: ``In most areas of the country, no State or local law makes you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries ask that you have such a container so that the grave will not sink in. Either a burial vault or a grave liner will satisfy these requirements.''

(d) General provisions on legal and cemetery requirements -- (1) Deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for funeral providers to represent that Federal, State, or local laws, or particular cemeteries or crematories, require the purchase of any funeral goods or funeral services when such is not the case.

(2) Preventive requirements. To prevent these deceptive acts or practices, as well as the deceptive acts or practices identified in 453.3(a)(1), 453.3(b)(1), and 453.3(c)(1), funeral providers must identify and briefly describe in writing on the statement of funeral goods and services selected (required by 453.2(b)(5)) any legal, cemetery, or crematory requirement which the funeral provider represents to persons as compelling the purchase of funeral goods or funeral services for the funeral which that person is arranging.

(e) Provisions on preservative and protective value claims. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to:

(1) Represent that funeral goods or funeral services will delay the natural decomposition of human remains for a long-term or indefinite time;

(2) Represent that funeral goods have protective features or will protect the body from gravesite substances, when such is not the case.

(f) Cash advance provisions -- (1) Deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is a deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to:

(i) Represent that the price charged for a cash advance item is the same as the cost to the funeral provider for the item when such is not the case;

(ii) Fail to disclose to persons arranging funerals that the price being charged for a cash advance item is not the same as the cost to the funeral provider for the item when such is the case.

(2) Preventive requirements. To prevent these deceptive acts or practices, funeral providers must place the following sentence in the general price list, at the end of the cash advances disclosure, required by 453.2(b)(4)(ii)(C): ``We charge you for our services in buying these items,'' if the funeral provider makes a charge upon, or receives and retains a rebate, commission or trade or volume discount upon a cash advance item.

[49 FR 563, Jan. 5, 1984]

453.4 Required purchase of funeral goods or funeral services.

(a) Casket for cremation provisions -- (1) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider, or a crematory, to require that a casket other than an unfinished wood box be purchased for direct cremation.

(2) Preventive requirement. To prevent this unfair or deceptive act or practice, funeral providers must make an unfinished wood box or alternative container available for direct cremations, if they arrange direct cremations.

(b) Other required purchases of funeral goods or funeral services -- (1) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services, it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a funeral provider to condition the furnishing of any funeral good or funeral service to a person arranging a funeral upon the purchase of any other funeral good or funeral service, except as required by law or as otherwise permitted by this part.

(2) Preventive requirements. (i) To prevent this unfair or deceptive act or practice, funeral providers must:

(A) Place the following disclosure in the general price list, immediately above the prices required by 453.2(b)(4)(ii) and (iii): ``The goods and services shown below are those we can provide to our customers. You may choose only the items you desire. If legal or other requirements mean you must buy any items you did not specifically ask for, we will explain the reason in writing on the statement we provide describing the funeral goods and services you selected.''

Provided, however, That if the charge for ``services of funeral director and staff'' cannot be declined by the purchaser, the statement shall include the sentence: ``However, any funeral arrangements you select will include a charge for our services'' between the second and third sentences of the statement specified above herein; and

(B) Place the following disclosure on the statement of funeral goods and services selected, required by 453.2(b)(5)(ii): ``Charges are only for those items that are used. If we are required by law to use any items, we will explain the reasons in writing below.''

(ii) A funeral provider shall not violate this section by failing to comply with a request for a combination of goods or services which would be impossible, impractical, or excessively burdensome to provide.

453.5 Services provided without prior approval.

(a) Unfair or Deceptive Acts or practices. In selling or offering to sell funeral goods or funeral services to the public, it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for any provider to embalm a deceased human body for a fee unless:

(1) State or local law or regulation requires embalming in the particular circumstances regardless of any funeral choice which the family might make; or

(2) Prior approval for embalming (expressly so described) has been obtained from a family member or other authorized person; or

(3) The funeral provider is unable to contact a family member or other authorized person after exercising due diligence, has no reason to believe the family does not want embalming performed, and obtains subsequent approval for embalming already performed (expressly so described). In seeking approval, the funeral provider must disclose that a fee will be charged if the family selects a funeral which requires embalming, such as a funeral with viewing, and that no fee will be charged if the family selects a service which does not require embalming, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.

(b) Preventive requirement. To prevent these unfair or deceptive acts or practices, funeral providers must include on the contract, final bill, or other written evidence of the agreement or obligation given to the customer, the statement: ``If you selected a funeral which requires embalming, such as a funeral with viewing you may have to pay for embalming. You do not have to pay for embalming you did not approve if you selected arrangements such as a direct cremation or immediate burial. If we charged for embalming, we will explain why below.''

453.6 Retention of documents.

To prevent the unfair or deceptive acts or practices specified in 453.2 and 453.3 of this rule, funeral providers must retain and make available for inspection by Commission officials true and accurate copies of the price lists specified in 453.2(b) (2) through (4), as applicable, for at least one year after the date of their last distribution to customers, and a copy of each statement of funeral goods and services selected, as required by 453.2(b) (5) for at least one year from the date on which the statement was signed.

453.7 Comprehension of disclosures.

To prevent the unfair or deceptive acts or practices specified in 453.2 through 453.5, funeral providers must make all disclosures required by those sections in a clear and conspicuous manner.

453.8 Declaration of intent.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in 453.2(a), it is a violation of this rule to engage in any unfair or deceptive acts or practices specified in this rule, or to fail to comply with any of the preventive requirements specified in this rule;

(b) The provisions of this rule are sparate and severable from one another. If any provision is determined to be invalid, it is the Commission's intention that the remaining provisions shall continue in effect.

(c) This rule shall not apply to the business of insurance or to acts in the conduct thereof.

[49 FR 564, Jan. 5, 1984]

453.9 State exemptions.

If, upon application to the Commission by an appropriate State agency, the Commission determines that:

(a) There is a State requirement in effect which applies to any transaction to which this rule applies; and

(b) That State requirement affords an overall level of protection to consumers which is as great as, or greater than, the protection afforded by this rule;

then the commission's rule will not be in effect in that State to the extent specified by the Commission in its determination, for as long as the State administers and enforces effectively the State requirement.

[49 FR 564, Jan. 5, 1984]

453.10 Mandatory review.

No later than four years after the effective date of this rule, the Commission shall initiate a rulemaking amendment proceeding pursuant to section 18 (d)(2)(b) of the FTC Act to determine whether the rule should be amended or terminated.

[54 FR 19360, May 5, 1989]



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