With funeral and burial costs typically running between $7,000-$10,000, funeral arrangements are one of the most expensive purchases a consumer will ever make. While most funeral providers try to serve their clients’ best interests, some try to take advantage of consumers by overcharging or talking consumers into buying unnecessary services. Because this is such an emotional time, consumers are much more vulnerable to these types of deceptive practices. That’s why it is important to compare prices and know your rights under the law. 

YOUR PROTECTIONS UNDER THE LAW

  • The Funeral Rule, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral homes to give you an itemized General Price List at the beginning of your initial visit, before you begin viewing any products or services. 
  • Funeral homes must show consumers separate casket and outer burial container price lists if those prices are not included in the General Price List. 
  • Burial vaults and grave liners are not required by state law. 
  • Embalming is not legally required in Georgia. Refrigeration generally serves the same purpose. Direct cremation or burial does not require any form of preservation.  • For a direct cremation, a casket is not legally required. A funeral provider who offers cremations must make alternative containers available and inform you of this option.
  • The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought elsewhere, or charge you a fee for using it.
  • It is against Georgia law for a solicitor of funeral or burial services to attempt to persuade a dying person to cancel his or her prepaid funeral arrangements in order to enter into a new, possibly more expensive, contract.
  • All veterans, along with their spouses and dependent children, are entitled to a free  burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. Contact the Department of Veterans  Affairs (VA) at 800-827-1000 or through their website (www.cem.va.gov) for more information. In addition, the State of Georgia, through the Georgia Department of Veterans

Service, operates two state veterans cemeteries that are part of the VA’s National Cemetery System. These State of Georgia veterans cemeteries are located in Glennville, Georgia (912-654-5398 or [email protected]) and in Milledgeville, Georgia (478-445-3363 or [email protected]).

Tips and Guidelines

  • To help you steer clear of high product mark-ups, shop around and talk with friends and family.
  • Check whether the funeral services director is licensed with the Secretary of State (sos.ga.gov) as Georgia law requires.  (Please note that this does not imply an endorsement by the state.)
  • Save money by avoiding expensive “sealed” or “protective” caskets.
  • Ask about the cancellation and refund policy.
  • Make certain the contract itemizes all prices and specifies any future costs. Compare the posted prices to those in the contract.
  • Make sure the burial plot is fully identified in the contract and is in the desired location.
  • Before signing, read the contract carefully and make sure it includes everything that was promised. Don’t rely on verbal agreements alone.
  • If you decide to plan ahead by prepaying for funeral arrangements, find out what happens to the money you pay and whether you will be entitled to a refund if you move away or change your mind. Determine whether you are protected if the company goes out of business.

RESOURCES

  • For more information on funeral planning, contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance at funerals.org.
  • To submit a complaint regarding an unfair or deceptive business practice by a funeral services provider, contact the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division by going to consumer.ga.gov or calling 404-651-8600.