Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who Can You Trust When Somebody Dies?

Who do most American's turn to when a death occurs? One should exercise caution when putting trust and confidence into funeral homes.

The FTC enforces what is called the Funeral Rule, which is basically a step-by-step guideline to protect consumers from being taken advantage of or misled by funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries. Within this enforcement, the FTC conducts an annual audit of funeral homes across the country. The 2008 results were recently released and, if anything, it makes me feel that consumers are more vulnerable to funeral home manipulation and thankful that I am informed and prepared.

The FTC investigated 104 funeral homes across seven states. Incredibly, almost 62% were cited for significant and/or minor violations!

Orange County, CA was one of the seven states included. In Orange County, incredibly 61% of the 18 funeral homes inspected were cited for significant and/or minor violations. That is likely not much comfort to the countless individuals and families who trusted these and other funeral homes during their time of emotional crisis and grief.

On the bright side, you can be thankful that you didn't have to arrange a funeral in Northeastern Arkansas. Of the 15 funeral homes inspected there, 11 were cited for significant violations and 4 for minor...or simply a 100% FAIL rate.

Of the seven states, only one (Nassau County, NY) ranked below 50% of the funeral homes operating without violations. Of the 18 funeral homes investigated, 2 were cited for significant violations and 3 for minor.

But here is the real interesting part...funeral homes with significant violations can avoid costly and public litigation by agreeing to participate in a 3-year Funeral Rule Offender Program (FROP), which teaches compliance, the Funeral Rule and other topics that reasonable minds would assume they already knew considering they operate as a funeral home and are likely a member of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). Violating funeral homes also make a "voluntary" payment to the U.S. Treasury and pay annual administrative fees to the NFDA.

Let me clarify...violators learn how to operate a compliant funeral home, while continuing day-to-day operations as a funeral home, and pay annual fees to an association that they likely already belong to, ultimately paying themselves. This builds consumer confidence?

It's important for consumers to have some degree of confidence in the integrity of funeral homes considering that multiple reputable sources report that the average cost of a traditional funeral is now over $6,500. In these economic times, coming up with that kind of money to be spent on something like a funeral, which holds no lasting fiscal value, is quite a daunting thought.

But, the empowering and most important thing is YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF!

By working with an independent, unaffiliated pre-need funeral planner like Funeral Planners Inc., you can know your rights and options and prepare a comprehensive and documented pre-need funeral plan, where over 100 decisions, arrangements and negotiations are made with the benefit of time and knowledge, allowing for thoughtful and financially responsible decision making.

Learn more at or call today at 219. 728. 1290.

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