What is a Funeral Home "Basic Services Fee"?

Basic Services Fee Form
Funeral homes include a "basic services fee" for most funeral arrangements. Photo © Courtney Keating/E+/Getty Images/Chris Raymond

The "basic services fee" comprises a flat fee that funeral homes add to most services/arrangements selected by a client-family -- in addition to the charge(s) for optional merchandise/services -- in order to cover the costs common to all funerals. (See below for which services do not require this fee.)

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates all providers of funeral services and goods under "The Funeral Rule," a funeral home's basic services fee includes such things as "funeral planning, securing the necessary permits and copies of death certificates, preparing the [obituary and/or death] notices, sheltering the remains, and coordinating the arrangements with the cemetery, crematory or other third parties."

According to the FTC, there are four services for which funeral homes may legally reduce their basic services fee:

• Forwarding human remains to another location, i.e., transporting a body from one town/city to another

• Receiving human remains from another location

Direct cremation

Direct or immediate burial

In addition, the FTC issued an advisory opinion in 2009 that allows a funeral home to "offer a reduced basic services fee that is commensurate with the limited services it is providing" when assisting a family with a home funeral.

A funeral home's "basic services fee" might also be referred to as a "non-declinable service(s) fee," "basic services of funeral director and staff," "funeral home's basic services and overhead," "basic services and facilities" or variations on this theme.

Regardless of the verbiage used by a particular funeral home, a firm's basic services fee is one of six key disclosures that every funeral home must include on its General Price List.

"Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist," July 2012. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved August 10, 2015. http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0301-funeral-costs-and-pricing-checklist

"FTC Staff Issues Important Opinion on Basic Services Fee" by T. Scott Gilligan, November 25, 2009. National Funeral Directors Association.

Retrieved August 10, 2015. https://nfda.org/additional-tools-funeralrule/1904-ftc-staff-issues-important-opinion-on-basic-services-fee.html

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