Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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A Consumer Guide to Funeral Planning

Following the death of a loved one, family members are forced to face not only their grief, but sometimes difficult decisions regarding the final arrangements. These services are among the most expensive purchases a consumer may make, usually costing several thousands of dollars. To protect yourself, keep the following tips in mind:

Pre Planning:

Are pre-need purchases right for you? Many families find comfort in making arrangements in advance, rather than in the short time between a loved one's death and burial. Should you choose pre-planned arrangements, consider the following:

  • In Pennsylvania, only licensed funeral directors are permitted to negotiate and enter into pre-need contracts for services and merchandise incidental to the sale of funeral services.
  • Can you cancel the contract with a full refund if you change your mind?
  • Does this pre-paid plan allow a transfer should you move?
  • Consider putting any preferences in writing. Be sure to share this document with your family and your attorney, and review the decisions every few years.
  • Know what is included in the price. Does the price cover all related expenses or only specific merchandise, such as the casket?

Making Arrangements:

  • Understand which goods and services are required by law and which are optional. Most funeral options are up to the consumer and this must be indicated in writing on the funeral provider's price list. Additionally, anything that is required by law must also be in writing and refer to the specific law.
  • Be sure to understand all the terms and conditions of any contract, especially when responding to promotional services. Be aware of the business' obligations for custom goods like gravestones.
  • Compare services and prices before making a commitment. Funeral directors are required to provide price information over the phone when requested.
  • Funeral providers may not refuse or charge extra fees to handle a casket bought elsewhere.
  • All veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker.

If you want to file a complaint regarding a consumer-related dispute, visit our website at www.attorneygeneral.gov or call the Bureau of Consumer Protection's toll-free Hotline number 1/800-441-2555.