The General Price List, or GPL, is at the center of the funeral arrangement experience. As all funeral establishments are required to provide families with copies of their General Price List by the Federal Trade Commission, you are certain to get a copy within minutes of entering a funeral home with the intention of making funeral arrangements.
The history of the General Price List dates back to 1984, with the enactment of the Funeral Rule by the Federal Trade Commission. Amended ten years later to modify the list of required contents, the Funeral Rule strictly defines the details of a funeral home’s General Price List.
Perhaps the most important part of a funeral home General Price List is this disclosure: “Consumers may select only the goods and services desired”. You can see how that empowers you, the consumer, to make the choices during the funeral arrangement conference which are right for your family. The other disclosure that is critical to understand is this one: “A basic services fee will be added to any items purchased.” That fee is the one non-declinable fee within a funeral home General Price List.
Other disclosures include:
• Embalming is not required by law except in certain special cases
• "Alternative containers," such as those made of cardboard, are available for direct cremation
Funeral firms that do not itemize casket or vault prices as part of an all-inclusive General Price List are also required to provide two additional disclosures:
• A Casket Price List is available
• An Outer Burial Container (vault) Price List is available
The General Price List must include the charges for many of the most commonly-offered services (if these are offered by the specific funeral establishment), including:
• Basic Services of Funeral Director & Staff
• Embalming Charges
• Fees for Other Preparations of the Body
• Cost of Removal and Transfer of the Body to the Funeral Home
• Charges for the Use of Facilities and Staff for a Viewing, Funeral, or Memorial Service
• Charges for Funeral Vehicles
• Price for the Delivery of Remains to another Funeral Establishment
• Charge for the Receipt of Remains from another Funeral Home
• Cost of Direct Cremation
• Cost of Immediate Burial
• Other Preparations of the Body
• Fees for the Use of Staff & Equipment for Graveside Services
Remember that this is the only non-declinable fee on a funeral home's price list. It covers tasks such as:
• Filing death certificates
• Obtaining certified copies of the death certificate for the survivors
• Filing for benefits with the Veterans Administration, Social Security, or insurance providers
• Overhead charges for the arrangement conference
• Securing all required permits
• Preparing the obituary or death notification
• Coordinating with the crematory and/or cemetery
The most critical thing to remember is this: beyond paying the required basic services fee, you have the right to decline or purchase any item or service listed in a funeral home General Price List. That’s correct: you are in control throughout the time spent at a funeral home making funeral arrangements for yourself or a loved one.
As the foundation of the arrangement process, the funeral director must give you a copy of his funeral firm’s General Price List and allow you to take it home when you leave. If you feel you’d like more time to review the GPL with family members before committing to the purchase of certain products and services, tell your funeral director you want to review the GPL at home. Here are some additional recommendations:
• If you’ve selected cremation, avoid confusion by asking if the price includes the crematory charges. If not, ask what the crematory will charge for their services.
• When choosing immediate burial, the costs for the cemetery’s involvement in the burial are extra. Be sure to ask your funeral director what those additional fees will cover.
• Remember the required FTC embalming disclosure about embalming: it is not required by law, except in certain special cases. This means that if your family chooses to hold a viewing or an open casket funeral service for a loved one, embalming may be seen necessary or prudent by the funeral director. However, you remain in charge of the funeral arrangements and can modify your plan to eliminate embalming.
Should you have questions or concerns about a funeral home’s General Price List, by all means speak directly with the funeral director or funeral home manager.