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How to Understand a General Price List for Funeral and Cremation Services

Funerals and cremations can be challenging to discuss, let alone plan.

Funerals and cremations can be challenging to discuss, let alone plan. However, transparent, public pricing from cremation and funeral providers can help make the financial aspects easier to grasp during a difficult time. The General Price List (often called a GPL) is an essential document in the funeral industry. This guide will help you understand this document and make an informed financial decision with complete transparency.

What Is a General Price List?

A General Price List is a document that displays the basic services and add-ons that funeral or cremation providers offer. This list may also contain packages you can purchase instead of individual services. It is to help you make informed financial decisions with full financial transparency. You should remember this document when reviewing different funeral homes or cremation providers.

What’s Included in a General Price List?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a general price list must include the following information to comply with set standards:

  • Embalming costs
  • Alternative containers
  • Professional services fees
  • Price list of caskets and outer burial container
  • Required itemized prices
  • Process and charges for forwarding/receiving remains
  • Direct cremation and immediate burial costs
  • Basic services of funeral director and staff
  • Transfer of remains to funeral home
  • Other preparation of the body
  • Use of facilities and staff for viewing, funeral ceremony, and memorial service
  • Use of equipment and staff for graveside service
  • Hearse (funeral coach) and limousine costs

Although this may seem like many items to consider, it’s important to remember that it is the job of the funeral home or cremation service to ensure that standards are met for each service type. Funeral homes must present this information to you, whether you are prepared to make a decision or if you’re in the preplanning phase. If they don't show this information, they could violate FTC guidelines.

Understanding Basic Funeral and Cremation Packages

Each funeral home is different and their plans vary. The following options are general items often included in immediate burials and direct cremation pack ages.

Immediate Burial

Immediate burial, or direct burial, typically includes the following:

  • Transfer of the deceased to the facility and crematory
  • Death certificate
  • Container for body
  • Interment

Direct Cremation

Simple or direct cremation usually includes the following:

  • Death certificate
  • Roles and responsibilities of staff and the funeral director
  • Transfer of the deceased to the facility and crematory
  • Return of remains in an urn or other appropriate container

How to Review and Compare Funeral Home Prices

Making funeral arrangements while considering your budget can be a challenging task. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make end-of-life arrangements within your budget:

Understand the Base Price

Take the time to understand what services are included in the initial price quote provided by the funeral home or cremation service. This will give you a clear idea of what you're paying for and help you determine if it aligns with your budget and expectations.

Ask About Additional Costs

Ask about any potential extra fees or charges that may not be initially mentioned. This could include transportation, paperwork, or staff fees. Understanding these possible additional costs will help you plan your budget accordingly.

Explore Customization Options

Find out if there is flexibility in the services offered that can be customized to fit your budget. Funeral homes often provide different packages or options to meet a range of financial needs. Discuss your budget openly and see if adjustments can be made without compromising the essence of the service.

Consider Less Expensive Alternatives

Inquire about alternative options that might be more affordable. For example, direct cremation are cost-effective alternatives to traditional funeral services because they do not include memorial service packages. Discuss these options with the funeral home or cremation service to see if they align with your preferences and budget.

Bring Your Own Casket or Urn

Ask if the funeral home allows you to provide your own casket or urn. Bringing your own container can potentially save you money. However, be sure to check if there are any specific criteria or requirements for outside containers.

Inquire About Payment Plans or Financing Options

Find out if the funeral home offers payment plans or financing options to help you manage the cost over time. This can be particularly helpful if you need to meet your budget needs while still providing a meaningful service. Discuss the available options and see if they fit your financial situation.

Customize Services Based on Your Budget

See if you can select and pay for individual services instead of purchasing a funeral or cremation package. This allows you to tailor the arrangements to your specific budget and needs.

Plan Ahead for Greater Savings

Planning and pre-paying for services in advance can often provide cost savings and relieve the burden on your loved ones in the future.

Investigate Government or Non-Profit Programs

Qualified veterans and their families might be eligible for burial benefits from the VA. Native Americans or Native Alaskans may qualify for benefits to help pay for burial or cremation. There might be non-profit or faith-based organizations that can help if you cannot afford the full cost.   

Get a Written Breakdown

Request a detailed breakdown of all costs and services in writing to ensure transparency. This will help you avoid any hidden fees that might arise later. If anything is unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.

Empowering Yourself

It is your right as a consumer to see a funeral provider’s GPL. Here are a few reminders to help ensure a less stressful and more economical outcome: 

  • Remember that funeral homes or cremation services are required to present you with this pricing information, whether you're ready to make a decision or still in the pre-planning phase.
  • Take your time when reviewing options. You're entitled to preview pricing before deciding on a pre-planned funeral or cremation or in the event of a sudden loss.
  • Research and compare prices of funerals and cremations in your area to choose the best option for your budget. The cost of funerals and cremations can range widely.
  • Always ask questions when reviewing GPLs. Funeral directors and cremation providers should be able to provide clear and concise answers to help you make the best decision.

Finding out about options and pricing can be daunting, but understanding GPLs makes you feel empowered to make well-informed financial decisions. For more useful information on understanding funeral costs, take a look at our article How to Read a Funeral Bill: Breaking Down the Costs. Our partners want you to have all the information you need to make arrangements for your needs and budget, so you'll always find our price lists online. Find a nearby location.