The death of a loved one is regarded as one of the most stressful life events we must endure. In fact, research has shown that 40 percent of individuals experience some form of anxiety disorder in the year following the death of someone close to them. Because loss is difficult, it is important to be familiar with the rights you have as the bereaved.

First established in 1984, the Funeral Industry Practices law, also known as the Funeral Rule, is governed by the Federal Trade Commission. In it are several important protections for the survivors of the recently deceased. Knowing your rights ahead of time helps ameliorate the process of planning for your loved ones final disposition.

Upon visiting a funeral provider, you must be presented with a General Price List. By law, this document must detail each of the services and goods available from the funeral provider as well as provide the price of each. While many providers offer bundled packages of services (embalming, cremation, viewing room fees, etc.) and goods (caskets and urns), you are not required to purchase anything you do not specifically want.

The availability of caskets and urns from retail and online providers is a relatively new development in the funeral industry. If you opt to purchase one of these items from a provider other than the funeral home, they must honor your wishes and accept delivery without applying a receivership fee or requiring you be present when it is delivered.

Additionally, you cannot be made to purchase a casket if you are planning a direct cremation. Direct cremation is regarded, under law, as the “disposition of human remains by cremation, without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony with the body present.”

With very few exceptions, embalming a body is not legally required either. Unless state law stipulates otherwise, the funeral provider cannot represent embalming as a necessity if you are opting for direct cremation, closed casket funeral, or immediate burial.

Prior to the Funeral Rule, it was too often easy to succumb to guilt purchases in a time of mourning. This consumer protection was implemented to help alleviate the already stressful event of losing a loved one.

Thankfully, there are many reputable firms, such as Accu-Care Cremation & Funerals, that cater to families seeking the more expedited and economical option of direct cremation. Selecting a direct cremation is most suitable for those who do not wish to hold a wake, or when the funeral or memorial is to take place weeks or even months after the time of death.