Understanding the terminology used by funeral directors can sometimes be confusing. By law all funeral homes need to be able to provide you a general price list (GPL). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established this rule to ensure that consumers were given clear information about pricing when negotiating with funeral homes. Unfortunately the ‘al la carte’ design of many funeral homes GPL’s can make them quite daunting to decipher.
We have itemized below the main terms you will encounter when inquiring about funeral homes and crematory services to help you make sense of what services are being offered.
This is the simplest cremation option available and this service is for those who wish to have the deceased cremated shortly after death. The fee includes: basic services, initial transfer of deceased from place of death to funeral home, refrigeration of body, and local transportation to crematory (unless on-site). In addition it may include: a private family identification & the crematory fee, but this can differ between funeral homes. Do carefully check what is included.
This is one of the cheapest disposition offerings, however, many funeral homes include it at the very end of their GPL.
Immediate or Direct Burial
This is the simplest burial option available and this service is for those who wish to have the deceased buried, without a service, shortly after death. The fee includes: basic services, initial transfer of deceased from place of death to funeral home, private family identification, and refrigeration of body. It will generally not include a casket, unless specified. A casket is not required by law.
If a very simple casket is selected and no embalming or additional services rendered, a direct burial can be quite inexpensive.
Basic Services Fee/Professional Services Fee
This is the only non-declinable fee you will be charged by the funeral home. The service fee includes services common to all funerals, regardless of the specific arrangement. The fee covers the cost of the funeral director, staff, and overhead. It includes: consultation with family or responsible party, staff and facilities responding to initial requests for service, coordination of service plans with cemetery, crematory, and/or other parties involved in final disposition, securing of official documents and necessary registrations, and sheltering of the deceased.
Transfer of remains to funeral home
This is the fee for the collection of the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home.
Embalming is not required by law (apart from certain cases or for public health reasons). Embalming may be recommended if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. This fee includes: use of the preparation room, as well as the professional services, equipment, and materials involved in carrying out embalming.
Other Preparation of the Body
This fee covers the preparation of the deceased and includes: cosmetology, dressing, and casketing by professional staff. The funeral home may facilitate family using the facilities to help prepare the deceased.
This fee includes: washing and disinfecting of non-embalmed individuals.Use of Facilities, Staff & Equipment for:
Viewings provide family and friends with the opportunity to pay respects and offer condolences to your family. This fee includes the use of facilities and staff for viewing and includes charges for both the services of staff and the facilities used in connection with a viewing.
Funeral Ceremony / Memorial Service
Funeral ceremonies are commemorative services with the casket or urn present. This fee includes the use of the funeral home’s facilities as well as the necessary staff services.
Graveside services are held immediately before the burial. This fee includes the use of equipment and staff for a graveside service.
Use of Hearse/Automotive Equipment
Traditionally there are special cars used for burial services to transport the casket to the cemetery. You may be offered any or all of the following: a funeral coach or Hearse, a limousine, a flower car, a traffic control or lead car. Each may be charged at a fixed or hourly rate.
Shelter of Remains
The storage of the deceased, especially if refrigerated storage is offered.
Forwarding of Remains
This service is for those who wish to have the deceased transferred to a funeral home out of the area. The fee includes: basic services, initial transfer of deceased from place of death to funeral home, embalming, local transportation (airline or shipping transportation charges not included), and transfer case.
This service is for those who wish to have the deceased transferred to a funeral home out of the area.
This is the fee the funeral home charges for receiving the deceased. The fee includes: basic services, care of deceased, filing of local permits, and local transportation of the deceased to cemetery or crematory.
Cash Advances are the third-party services and merchandise that the funeral home has to pay upfront for and will also pass this cost onto you before the funeral takes place. They include such items as: death certificate fee, cremation or burial permit fee, obituary notice, celebrant/clergy, music, crematory fee, cemetery fees and funeral flowers.
These can include an array of ancillary products such as prayer cards, guest book, acknowledgement cards, memorial DVD, presentation plaque, temporary grave marker, crucifix, webcam hosting, online memorial etc
There can be additional fee charges if equipment is required for a graveside service. This can include such things as: tent, carpet, chairs and lowering device.
For further information about funeral glossary terms, visit our other sections on funeral terminology explained in our library.