General Funeral Questions

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Should I call 911 if a hospice patient dies at home?

No. When a terminally ill patient is receiving hospice care and dies at home, there is no need to call 911 or the doctor. The hospice agency is trained to handle death at home and will follow local regulations about notifying the required authorities in advance, so there will be no legal or medical issues. When the patient dies, instead of calling 911 or the doctor, the family should call their hospice nurse to come to the home. The hospice nurse has the authority to legally pronounce the death and can assist the family to notify their funeral provider to remove the body.

What are my options to ship cremated remains?

In the United States, the shipping of human or animal cremated remains can only be handled by the United States Post Office. FedEx, UPS or other carriers do not ship cremated remains. Priority Mail Express is the only current option for sending cremated remains via the USPS.

What is the average cost to fly cremated remains back home?

If you are considering flying with the cremated remains, you will pay the cost of your plane ticket, and depending on the airline, possibly a small fee. Most airlines will allow you to transport cremated remains, either as air cargo, or as carry-on or checked luggage (traveling with you).

You will need to check the individual airline policy regarding transport of cremated remains. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) offers the following general guidelines for transporting cremated remains on domestic and international flights.

What does it cost to ship an embalmed body back home by air?

The cost can vary widely due to several factors. The body will usually be shipped by cargo plane, and the shipping cost is calculated according to the weight and the distance between the point of origin and the final destination.

The funeral home is legally required to make the air shipping arrangements. Shipping charges, combined with the expense of embalming and other service fees from the funeral home, may drive the cost up to several thousand dollars.

What is the average cost of a casket?

The average casket costs slightly more than $2000. The cost of a casket could run as high as $10,000 if you choose a mahogany, bronze, or copper casket.

What is the General Price List and why is it important?

The General Price List (GPL) is a written, itemized price list that every funeral home is required by law to provide to consumers upon request. It lists all the items and services that the funeral home offers, along with the cost of each item or service. This list is yours to keep.

What are my rights under the Funeral Rule?

Under the Funeral Rule, you have the right to:

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want
  • Get pricing information over the phone
  • Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home
  • See a written casket price list before you actually view the caskets
  • See a written outer burial container price list
  • Receive a written statement after you select what you want, but before paying for it
  • Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services
  • Use an alternative container instead of a casket for cremation
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming

For detailed information on your rights under the Funeral Rule, visit the FTC website at

What is the FTC Funeral Rule?

According to the official FTC website, “The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), makes it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, and makes it possible for you to select the funeral arrangements you want at the funeral home you use. (The Rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that lack an on-site funeral home.)”

Why are funerals so expensive?

A traditional funeral involves a number of services which add to the total cost. Besides a non-declinable basic services fee, other charges may include removal/transfer of the body to the funeral home; embalming; other preparation of the body; use of facilities and staff for viewing; use of facilities and staff for the funeral ceremony; use of a hearse, service car, or van; a basic memorial printed package; metal casket, a vault or grave liner, and purchase of a cemetery plot.

What does the average funeral cost?

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional funeral is approximately $7045. This includes the cost of embalming and a metal casket. The purchase of the gravesite and a burial vault or liner can add as much as $3000 more to the $7045 cost.

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