What Funeral Rights Do You Have?

by knowing your funeral rights, you can make your own arrangements

Funeral rights protect you from being taken advantage of as a result of unscrupulous business practices. This enables you to get your funeral the way you want it, while also giving you full knowledge of what you are paying for.

Your Right to Know – Funeral Planning and Costs

Funeral planning rights revolve around who you trust. If you don’t trust your next of kin to honor your funeral wishes, then you can have what’s known as Appointment of Agent. This is someone who you can work with to ensure you get the funeral you want. Also, you have the right to know exactly how much everything costs, from the funeral service to the casket to the vault. The funeral home is legally required to let you see an itemized list of prices and descriptions of everything mentioned. 

The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule mandates that funeral homes cannot hide costs from you, and funeral homes cannot force you to buy items you don’t want (hence why you won’t be forced to buy bundle packages).

You’re also allowed to have autonomy over the services. You don’t have to hire a funeral director. You can hire a home funeral consultant, prepare the body, obtain the paperwork needed, and you can hold the service yourself.  However, in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New York, you’re required to get a funeral director.

You Control What’s Done with Your Body

You have rights to how your body is dealt with, too:

  • You can choose whether you want to be embalmed. Some things like immediate burial and direct cremation don’t require preservation. If they don’t require preservation, then it only makes sense for you to save on embalming costs. Despite this option, you MUST get embalmed if your body crosses Alabama, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Nebraska state lines.
  • With cremation, you can choose what container you’re cremated in. You’re not forced to buy a cremation casket. Your ashes can be scattered anywhere as long as it’s done discreetly. Your ashes can be placed in any urn you want. But if your ashes are transported, it must be done via the US Postal Service. If ashes are transported via airline flight, the ashes must not be in a metallic container.
  • One compromise you may have to make is the vault. You can’t choose to have no vault at all, as that would have a destructive effect on the cemetery. However, you can choose a lower-cost alternative – a concrete grave liner.

Rights Outside the Funeral Home

Other businesses are not subject to the same regulations. Cemeteries are included here. This is mainly considering headstones. You may use a headstone from a different source, but it’s going to cost less to have a headstone that was purchased from the cemetery. As far as veterans buried in National Cemeteries, the headstone and burial itself are free of charge. 

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