The American funeral industry is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule.
General Price List. The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give you a general price list, commonly referred to as a GPL, of itemized prices of goods and services in person and, if you ask, quote prices over the phone. Note: They are not required to mail, fax or e-mail general price lists.
If you ask about funeral arrangements in person, funeral home personnel must give you a written GPL to keep. The GPL must be provided before your business conversation begins.
Caskets and Burial Containers. If you want to buy a casket or outer burial container, the funeral provider must show you descriptions of the available selections and the prices before actually showing you the caskets.
You may purchase a casket through a third party dealer, such as Costco, and have it shipped directly to the funeral home. The funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere.
Individual Goods and Services. Many funeral providers offer various packages of commonly selected goods and services that make up a funeral. The Funeral Rule protects your right to buy individual goods and services. You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
Purchases Required by Law. If state or local law requires you to buy any particular good or service, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list and provide a reference of the specific law on the price list.
Truthfulness. Funeral directors may not tell clients that a particular good or service is required by law if it is not true. If state or local law requires you to buy any particular item, the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list and reference the specific law.
Cash Advance Items. Cash advances are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services it buys from outside vendors on your behalf, including flowers, obituary notices, pallbearers, officiating clergy, and organists and soloists. Some funeral providers charge you their cost; others add a service fee to their cost.
The Funeral Rule. requires those who charge an extra fee to disclose that fact in writing, although it doesn't require them to specify the amount of their markup. The rule also requires funeral providers to tell you if there are refunds, discounts or rebates from the supplier on any cash advance item.
Embalming. Most funeral homes require embalming if the body is to be pubically viewed. This is a business policy, not a law. Embalming generally is not necessary or legally required if the body is buried or cremated within 48 hours of the death. Under the Funeral Rule, a funeral provider may neither embalm without permission or charge a fee for unauthorized embalming unless embalming is required by state law.
Direct Cremation and Immediate Burial. A funeral director must disclose in writing that you have the right to choose direct cremation or immediate burial, which are lower-cost alternatives.
For those who choose a direct cremation, the funeral provider must offer an inexpensive unfinished wood box or alternative container — a nonmetal casket fabrted from pressboard, cardboard or canvas — that is cremated with the body
To download a free copy of the FTC's funeral-consumer guides, click on the following links:
FILE A COMPLAINT
The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. However, it collects complaints to detect patterns of wrong-doing, which may lead to investigations and prosecutions.
Following is a comprehensive listing of funeral-related law links for the state of Michigan. Use the clickable menu below to advance to specific chapters.
Michigan Compiled Law, or MCL, Statutes:
CHAPTER 52, COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINERS, 52.86-52.216
CHAPTER 123 – DEMONSTRATIONS AT A FUNERAL SERVICE
CHAPTER 328, 328.201-328.235
Dead Human Bodies, 328.201-328.204
Prepaid Funeral & Cemetery Sales, 328.211-328.235
Public Heath Code, 333.1101 - 333.25211
Administration, Vital Records, 333.2801-333.2899
Anatomical Gits, 333.10101-333.10123
Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Law (333.10101-333.10123)
Disposition of Human Body Parts, 333.10201-333.11101
Environmental Health, 333.13801-333.13831
CHAPTER 338 STATE LICENSE FEE ACT, 338.2243
CHAPTER 339 OCCUPATIONAL CODE, MORTUARY SCIENCE, 339.1801-339.1812
CHAPTER 500 THE INSURANCE CODE OF 1956
CHAPTER 700 ESTATES AND PROTECTED INDIVIDUALS CODE, 700.1101-700.8206
Act 386 of 1998-III-2 Right and Power to Make Decisions About Funeral Arrangements and Handling, Disposition, or Disinterment of Decedent's Body; Presumption; Priority; Shared Rights and Powers; Personal Representative or Nominated Personal Representative; Guardian; Special Personal Representative; Additional Persons; Reasonable Attempt to Locate Person; "Nominated Personal Representative" Defined (700.3206)
DIVISION OF RECORDS AND VITAL HEALTH STATISTICS
BUREAU OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
BUREAU OF LABORATORIES
BOARD OF EXAMINERS IN MORTUARY SCIENCE
Chapter 750 Dead Human Bodies
Q: DO WE HAVE TO HIRE A FUNERAL DIRECTOR, EVEN IF WE DON'T WANT TO?
A: Yes. For at least two reasons:
According to EPIC, MCL 700.3206: “The handling, disposition, or disinterment of a body shall be under the supervision of a person licensed to practice mortuary science in this state.” This includes body donation.
Michigan is the only state that requires a funeral director to "certify" the death certificate.
Q: IN OTHER STATES, FAMILY MEMBERS MAY ACT AS A FUNERAL DIRECTOR INSTEAD OF HIRING ONE. CAN WE DO THIS IN MICHIGAN?
A: No. Funeral law in various states, including Michigan, contains phrases such as “funeral director or the authorized agent” or “funeral director or person acting as a funeral director.” Typically, the “person acting as a funeral director” is interpreted to include families. In Michigan, families are not recognized.
Q: IF A FAMILY MEMBER DIES IN A HOSPITAL, NURSING HOME OR OTHER CARE FACILITY, WILL THE FACILITY RELEASE THE BODY TO OUR FAMILY?
A: Probably not. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other agencies typically will not release the dead into the direct physical custody of family. As a matter of policy, they will only release the dead to licensed funeral directors or their agents to protect against liability issues.
Q: DO WE HAVE TO HAVE THE BODY EMBALMED?
A: That depends. If the body is to be viewed in a funeral-home, most funeral directors will require the body to be embalmed. It's a business policy, not a law.
You can avoid embalming by choosing a direct cremation, immediate burial or a family-led home funeral. But be aware that you have only two days to hold visitation and funeral ceremonies. According to conventional interpretation of the law, a nonembalmed body must reach it's place of final disposition within 48 hours.
Q: DOES MICHIGAN FUNERAL LAW PROVIDE TEMPERATURE REDUCTION AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO EMBALMING?
A: Twenty-two states require temperature reduction, or cooling, as an alternative to chemical embalming. Michigan does not. However, some funeral homes, such as those that serve the Jewish community, have refrigeration units.
Q: CAN WE USE OUR OWN VEHICLE TO TRANSFER THE BODY TO THE CEMETERY OR CREMATORIUM?
A: Maybe. A 1973 opinion issued by the Michigan attorney general states that an unlicensed person, including family, may transport the body as long as the process is completed under the supervision of a licensed funeral director. Ultimately, your ability to do so will be based on whether the funeral director you employ will allow it. Often, funeral directors consider it a liability issue.
COPYRIGHT © 2014 Funeral Consumers Information Society of Michigan
Funeral Consumers Information Society, also known as FCIS, is a volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to helping Michiganians make dignified, meaningful and affordable funeral arrangements since 1961.
In 2006, our mission expanded to advocate for the re-establishment of family rights in after-death care, including family-led home funerals, and to foster sustainable environmental practices, such as green burial, in the state.
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