Dawkins, Cephas to introduce bill to help grieving families

HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Reps. Jason Dawkins and Morgan Cephas, both D-Phila., plan to introduce a bill that would require funeral homes to provide pricing information when requested and post that information on their website, if they have one, in an effort to assist and protect grieving families.

"No grieving family should be required to spend lengthy hours of their time researching the cost of providing funeral services for their loved one," Dawkins said. "This legislation would allow families more time to focus on mourning their loss and celebrating the life of the deceased while providing peace of mind that they aren’t being taken advantage of."

The bill would require funeral directors to provide a written or printed list of prices and goods offered at the beginning of any conversation about prices, professional services offered and goods. The lists also would include preparation of the body, use of facilities, use of automotive equipment and casket options.

Cephas said, "During the loss of a loved one, it can be very difficult for some to manage dealing with their grief and for many in my district, the financial hardship that comes along with final expenses. Too often during this vulnerable time people are taken advantage of by bad actors who lack transparency in disseminating information to individuals and families. This legislation works to provide consumers with additional information needed to make cognizant decisions regarding the final expenses of their loved ones."

The bill also would require a statement to be included indicating that the responsible party is entitled to receive a copy of a pre-need agreement that has been signed and paid for prior to the drafting of a contract. If specific casket information is requested in person or over the phone, the funeral director would have to provide a list that, at a minimum, identifies caskets by price, by thickness of metal, type of wood, or other construction, interior and color. Lastly, the bill would require each licensed funeral establishment that maintains a website to post its general list of services and goods and provide a statement that the general price list is available upon request.

Similar legislation has already passed in California, providing for additional enforcement of funeral laws at the state level, as some funeral directors are failing to comply with the applicable federal law known as "The Funeral Rule." That rule requires funeral directors to provide consumers with a general price list of services and costs upon request.