We’ve covered how there are actually three price lists for funeral services that a funeral home must provide under the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule. The General Price List is the key document that outlines all of the key service fees, including something known as the basic services fee.
The basic services fee is one of those odd funeral expenses that is a bit ambiguous. Basic service fees could include a lot of different things. And that is exactly why the FTC requires that funeral homes explain the fee in certain ways.
Of course, government agencies aren’t always the best at breaking things down into simple layman’s terms for people. We’ve deciphered the regulations related to basic services fee to provide a very clear explanation of what the fees include and what funeral homes have to disclose.
What is Included Basic Services Fee
The basic services fee is actually one of six disclosures that must be made on the General Price List. It’s so important that the FTC won’t even let funeral homes change the wording on the disclosure.
In short, the basic services fee is what the funeral home charges for the services of their funeral director and staff. The basic services fee typically includes:
- Conducting the initial meeting to make funeral arrangements
- Funeral planning
- Securing permits
- Preparing notices
- Corresponding with the morgue or medical examiner’s office
- Coordinating with the cemetery
- Making crematory arrangements
The Federal Trade Commission has specified that four basic service fees absolutely must be included on the GPL. There should be details on the cost for:
- Transferring the remains to another funeral home, hospital, morgue or medical examiner’s office
- Receiving remains from another funeral home, hospital, morgue or medical examiner’s office
- Direct cremation
- Immediate burial
Of course, there could be other things that are included in a funeral home’s basic service fee. Generally speaking, any other sort of overhead or professional services that aren’t included in other types of services will end up in the basic services fee.
What Has to be Disclosed About Basic Service Fees
There are a few things that the funeral home will need to be clear about regarding the basic services fee. First and foremost, the price and specifics on what the basic services fee covers should be spelled out. The funeral home must also specify if the basic services fee is non-declinable, meaning that the client must pay the fee. When that’s the case, the following disclosure must be included:
“This fee for our basic services and overhead will be added to the total cost of the funeral arrangements you select. (This fee is already included in our charges for direct cremations, immediate burials, and forwarding or receiving remains.)”
The funeral home could also choose to include their services fee with the casket price instead of making it a separate expense. If so, the disclosure below will need to be included along with specifics on the services and overhead that are factored into the price:
“Please note that a fee of (specify dollar amount) for the use of our basic services and overhead is included in the price of our caskets. This same fee shall be added to the total cost of your funeral arrangements if you provide the casket. Our services include (specify).”
When you look at the General Price List for funeral services it’s easy to see why direct cremation is much less expensive than traditional funerals. A lot of small expenses and service fees go into a traditional funeral and really add up. And even with the required General Price List, it still might be hard to accurately estimate the total cost of a funeral.
If you have questions about the cost of direct cremation or would like a custom quote, please give the Direct Cremate team a call any hour of the day.