Definitions of Price Categories

DEFINITIONS of the price categories in our 2020 Price Comparison Chart:

(Based on the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule)

1. IMMEDIATE BURIAL - disposition of human remains by burial, without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony. It should be less expensive than a full funeral and consistent with the reduced funeral home services required. The price includes a reduced "basic services fee." The GPL must specify the services provided as part of an Immediate Burial option (typically, these include removal of remains to the funeral home, basic services of funeral director and staff, a proportionate share of overhead cost, necessary authorizations and transportation to cemetery). The purchaser of the Immediate Burial option is free to select additional services at the prices listed in the GPL. 

Please note: The Immediate Burial price in the GPL usually does NOT include cemetery-related costs for a grave liner or opening and closing the grave. The GPL must list at least two price options, depending on whether the funeral home or the consumer provides the alternative container (most often made of fiberboard or unfinished wood) or casket. For our FCAWM comparison chart, we selected the option in which the consumer provides the casket or container for burial.

2. DIRECT CREMATION - a disposition of human remains by cremation, "without formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony" (from FTC Funeral Rule Definition). The GPL must specify the services provided as part of a Direct Cremation option (typically, these include removal of remains to the funeral home, basic services of funeral director and staff, a proportionate share of overhead cost, necessary authorizations and transportation to crematory). 

The purchaser of the Direct Cremation option is free to select additional services at the prices listed in the GPL. The GPL must list at least two price options, depending on whether the funeral home or the consumer provides the alternative container (most often made of fiberboard or unfinished wood) or casket. The price used in our comparison is for the option in which the funeral home provides the alternative container or casket.

We added columns to our 2020 chart to indicate whether the quoted price for Direct Cremation covers the crematory fee (a range from $250 - $600) and mandatory Medical Examiner’s fee ($200). 

Please note: The Direct Cremation price usually does NOT include any cemetery-related charges (for instance, if the ashes are to be buried or placed in a columbarium niche).

3. BASIC SERVICES FEE - For arrangements other than Direct Cremation, Immediate Burial, and Forwarding or Receiving remains to/from another funeral home, each funeral home's GPL must list a separate "basic services fee." This fee is often a major factor in the total cost of a full funeral. The fee covers general overhead costs as well as services that are common to virtually all forms of disposition or arrangements that the funeral home offers, such as conducting the arrangements conference, securing the necessary permits, preparing the notices, sheltering of remains, and coordinating the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory, or other third parties. The costs of certain other goods and services must be listed separately on the GPL and, if selected, their costs will be added to the basic services fee. These selections include: Embalming; Other preparation of the body; Transfer of remains to funeral home; Use of facilities and staff for viewing; Use of facilities and staff for funeral ceremony or memorial service; Use of equipment and staff for graveside service; Hearse; Limousine; Casket; Outer burial container, grave liner or vault.

4. EMBALMING - not required by law in Massachusetts, but is required by most funeral homes if you select a funeral with viewing of the body. If you do not want embalming, you have the right to choose an option that does not require it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.  

 5. LEAST CASKET - the least expensive casket listed by the funeral home in its required price range statement or casket price list. Funeral homes are not allowed to charge you extra if you purchase a casket elsewhere and have it delivered to them.   

 6. LEAST OUTER CONTAINER - the least expensive outer burial container listed by the funeral home in its required price range statement or outer burial container price list. An outer burial container is not required by law in Massachusetts, but is required by many cemeteries to prevent the ground from sinking over the casket location. A grave liner (with no bottom) is less expensive than a grave vault (concrete surrounds the casket on all sides). Purchase is usually through the funeral home rather than the cemetery.