Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
Millions of Americans enter into contracts to prearrange their funerals and prepay some or all of the expenses involved, to ease the financial and emotional burdens on their families. Laws in individual states regulate the industry, and various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available when they are needed. However, protections vary widely from state to state, sometimes providing a window of opportunity for unscrupulous operators to overcharge expenses and list themselves as financial beneficiaries.
Tips for Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud:
- Be an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed general price lists over the telephone or in writing.
- Educate yourself fully about caskets before you buy one, and understand that caskets are not required for direct cremations.
- Understand the difference between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.
- Know that embalming rules are governed by state law and that embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.
- Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing, and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
- Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
- Before you consider prepaying, make sure you are well informed. When you do make a plan for yourself, share your specific wishes with those close to you.
- As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.