With Funeral Home Rules Due for an Update, There’s a Push for Online Prices

The typical cost of a traditional funeral, including viewing of the body and burial, was about $7,400 in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, a trade group. A funeral with cremation, which is increasingly popular, was about $6,300. But costs vary widely, even within the same market.

Scott Gilligan, general counsel with the funeral directors association, said about 20 percent of its members — generally those in larger, competitive markets — posted prices online, but the association has not seen major demand for it from consumers. The group’s research, he said, shows that people choose a funeral home mainly because of factors like a relationship with a particular funeral director or a home’s location, with price a less important criterion. There are about 22,000 funeral homes in the United States, and most are family owned, he said.

The Federal Trade Commission typically strives to re-evaluate rules every 10 years, said Patti Poss, an attorney in the commission’s consumer protection bureau. The last review of the funeral rule ended in 2008, when, according to the Federal Register, the commission declined to adopt any changes.

The 10-year review timeline isn’t mandated, however, and the commission may adjust it, Ms. Poss said. The five-member commission, whose members were all appointed last year, has a full plate, including an inquiry into telecommunications privacy.

Still, a review of the funeral rule in 2019 has been scheduled for several years, Ms. Poss said, and is “supposed to happen sometime this year.” She was unable to provide a date when the assessment might start, but said it would be announced on the commission’s website and in the Federal Register.

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