The Book the Funeral Industry Doesn't Want You to Read

E-mail Print

"VERDICT---This book is a boon for those looking to simplify and personalize caring for the dead. The inclusion of a compilation of each state’s funeral laws, including statutory citations and guidance for those investigating home funerals and burials and body donation, make this an essential purchase for consumer-protection collections."— Library Journal

Final Rights
is the definitive book on the modern funeral industry. Written by FCA executive director Josh Slocum and Funeral Ethics Organization leader Lisa Carlson, Final Rights combines journalistic investigation with practical consumer advice. The only book of its kind, Final Rights unveils the tricks of the funeral trade (and how to avoid them) while calling out government regulators who dance to the $15-billion death industry's tune when they're supposed to be protecting you, the funeral consumer.


  • In eight states the law says you have to hire a funeral home, even if you want to care for a deceased relative privately.
  • Almost $1 billion has been stolen from trust funds and insurance policies families paid for to ensure their last wishes were carried out. Where were the regulators?
  • Interested in a formaldehyde-free funeral? Better be careful, as the conventional burial industry is finding creative ways to make your "green" send-off as pricey as possible.
  • The Federal Trade Commission gives you specific protections when you buy from a funeral home, but they disappear when you get to the graveyard. Find out why, and how to watch your wallet at the graveside.
  • Final Rights has a chapter on the laws in each state, written in plain English. Find out how well (or how badly) you're protected from funeral fraud, and learn where your state needs to reform!

Every American who plans to die (that's you) needs to read this book. Final Rights belongs on the bookshelf of every hospice worker, nurse, social worker, and elder-law attorney. Curious? Read the first chapter, Circling the Hearses, free.

Visit our bookstore to order Final Rights. Every copy you buy directly from FCA will put dollars behind our mission to protect the public from exploitation and funeral fraud.

Last Updated ( Monday, 30 July 2012 21:44 )  
Comments (23)
1 Tuesday, 31 May 2011 07:06
Donna Childs
It is not clear to me how to order the Enhanced Version of Before I Go, You Should Know.
2 Tuesday, 31 May 2011 10:21
Josh Slocum, FCA exec director
Hi Donna,

To order the enhanced kit, just click on the picture of the kit on the upper right of the screen. That takes you to the order page, where you'll have to select either the standard or enhanced version from a drop-down menu.
3 Wednesday, 30 November 2011 07:17
Titus Gerard

I purchased the book to enhance my funeral program website where I can gather new information and write articles to help bereaved families. There is a great deal of information within this book and I gave the book the highest rating and best read for the bereaved family.

I highly recommend families that purchase Final Rights and read it thoroughly if you anticipate losing a love one. Do it before your love one passes away as you do not want to last minute shop for funeral services as it will cost you dearly. Get some information before you go to the funeral home and take another family member with you. it is better to have two sets of ears listening just in case you were not clear on something and need to be refreshed. Great Book!

4 Friday, 16 March 2012 07:54
Test1 LCD

I'm looking forward to reading this book!

5 Friday, 30 March 2012 12:03
L. Sylier
I recently came across this book because I am a librarian and promptly checked it out because my mother is 93 and in good health living alone but in 1995 upon her insistence prepaid for her funeral. She hasn't even lived in the state where I purchaed the pre-need for over 10 years. I want to try to get my money back because we don't intend to use this service. This book is truly amazing. An eye opening venture into the "secret world" of the funeral business. I loudly applaud the authors for the wealth of information I have learned. I certainly intend to recommend this book to others in hopes that I can prevent someone from being taken in by these swindlers.
6 Tuesday, 23 October 2012 17:37
yvonne white
Both my parents have been cremated and their ashes are together in a vault. They want to charge us double for the burial. How can this be right? We do not have this $1000 they want to charge us.
7 Saturday, 16 February 2013 21:52
My father passed 4 yrs ago and we were told they HAD to embalm my father for a viewing even though he was being cremated. I wish I had discovered this website then. Thank you for alot of information.
8 Monday, 18 March 2013 09:15
My father-n-law just pasted away about 2 weeks ago he had no money & no life insurance we were told we had to come up with the money to burie him before it would happen. We begged, barrowed and almost stole to come up with 2/3 of it they finely they said they could do it if we could come up with the rest in30 days I ask the guy if he could come up with that sum of money in 30 days, he wouldnt answer.My husband ended up being taken by ambluance from the cemitary to the hospital. It was all the stress he had been in over the past month to two month seeing his Dad go through so much pain as he did & having to make promises to him he didnt know he could keep. The last three weeks I could see it was really take a toll on his health. Now we owe people that we had to barrow from & a big bill at the funeral home. We are both on disablity so we dont make much is there help out there for us. We will go to our graves oweing on his funeral. We need some kind of help!!!
9 Friday, 08 November 2013 18:09
Pat Phagan
I worked for a Pre-need company for 3 months. It was the most informative human nature study anyone could have. Quotes such as, "Do daddy right and Nothing is too good for momma". Actually do happen. The more religious and the farther apart the customer was from the deceased the more expensive their taste as long as someone else is footing the bill (Usually their land lord).
If there are 20 none believers and 20 atheist and 40 scientist at involved in the family the 2 Christians will assume that they are in charge and condemn everyone else to hell who disagrees that their person Preacher should not be flown in from across the country to be paid to "Officiate" the funeral. And yes there are old Christian ladies who will not buy a pre-paid unless you guarantee them that the concrete seal will be leak proof and last forever and ever.
10 Thursday, 21 November 2013 01:50
So sorry your experiences with"Christians" were not those Christ know as His. "There will be those that come to Me saying,"Lord, Lord we did miracles in Your name!" "And I will say depart from Me I never knew You" the Gospel of Christ. You should read it and see what the characteristics of true "Christ followers" look like.
Blessings to you and all those who grieve
11 Tuesday, 04 February 2014 11:14
I am a Christian and could not let this one go. I do not act like that. God gave us a brain and we are not to be foolish with the money he blessed us with, like where we work , school and on. The information you gave is against the law. You broke that law meaning to or not. Its against the law to shame anyone into spending more money. I learned about this when my Mom passed away. Do not group Christians in one group. Do not insult me that I cannot find information to use to help my family to save money. I know where they are at the moment of death I am not going to throw money down the drain I spend it on them when they are still with us. I hope you meet a or many real Christian and let you see how off this was of you. Death hurts everyone. We deal with it the best way we can. I would not work where you did. So its a human nature study its thief. Glass houses. My Mom spent money for her and my Dads funeral which they got paid two times for my Dad. Been there. People can talk about many things without the judgement of other groups.
12 Friday, 03 October 2014 19:37
As a funeral director in Florida for the past 30 years, let me enlighten you to certain facts. We are allowed to let a family have an 'identification viewing' with the remains unembalmed. We are not allowed to place an unembalmed body in public view due to sanitary issues. If the family wants a full funeral with an unembalmed body we will comply as long as it is completed within one day. The remains will be kept in a cooler until the day of service, which trumps a public viewing.
Additionally, in Florida, a funeral director is required to get involved with an antatomical donation. The recipient of the donation requires a completed death certificate, a myriad of paper work by the family and that the remains be embalmed in a specific way, in addition the funeral home must provide transportation to the medical facility. Also, I know of only 2 universities that currently accept these donations, and the parameters are very specific as to which remains are acceptable; this depends on age, specific illnesses of the decedent, and a host of other demands including the method of death, i.e. no one who died a traumatic death, which includes accidents, drowning, suicide, homicide or unattended deaths. For this we charge 1295.00 which includes removal from place of death, specific embalming, death certificate, transit permits, family consultation, review with the recipient
of remains and transportation to the medical facility.
Shipping out of state by unembalmed remains is acceptable as long as though remains are placed in a non leaking sealed metal container,(generally referred to as a Ziegler Case) and covered with dry ice. The airlines are the ones to blame for these precautions, not the funeral home. Anyone expecting to remove a loved one to an airline for transport without a funeral home will probably be arrested at the airport. Burying a decedent in your backyard is allowed as long as you have your property specified as a cemetery by the state.
Sorry folks - you'd better be more pragmatic about your loved ones disposition.
13 Monday, 06 October 2014 12:35
Josh Slocum, FCA Exec. Director
"We are allowed to let a family have an 'identification viewing' with the remains unembalmed. We are not allowed to place an unembalmed body in public view due to sanitary issues."

Please cite the statute or regulation that you believe bars you from showing an unembalmed body.
14 Sunday, 26 October 2014 15:23
Ms. Tomlinson
I just want to be able to lay my loved one to rest without going broke I'm disable and my mother is ill but, my sis passed a year ago my dad passed a few months ago its hard to handle paying all this money for them that I do not have so if help is out there please let them speak. If I can save money please tell me how.
15 Tuesday, 28 April 2015 22:06
I am also a funeral director. We also allow immediate family members to have an identification viewing of up to one hour. We will not allow a public visitation without embalming. This is not a law, but it is our policy! If a family does not want to pay for services, they will not receive services.
16 Saturday, 23 May 2015 17:21
Wanda brady
Can I skip the funeral home all together. From the morge to the crematory.
17 Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:15
Andrea Santiago
How despicable the response made by Chis on April 28th on this site! Maybe if funeral directors weren't such greedy thieves more people would be able to pay for services, and not end up feeling so badly over not being able to provide their loved one's with a nice funeral. It is inhumane and cruel to swindle people with inflated prices at a time of crisis for families. Horrible!
18 Wednesday, 26 August 2015 14:37
Andrea, are doctors greedy thieves? Social Workers? School Teachers? They all get a salary / wage and do a service for the community. I am a funeral director, i have a wife and four children. I do not own the Funeral Home. I do my best to serve the families that come through the door, but if charging them is thievery, then I am guilty. Just because a horrible thing (a death) has occurred, do you think the hospital bills will not come? The debtors? This is life. We serve the families, help them chose dignified services they can afford and then they will return. I will never be made to feel guilty for charging for the HARD work that I do. Once you start giving up part of your income to help those that can't afford to do things then come at me
19 Thursday, 24 September 2015 20:02
James Agee
When my Dad passed in 2012, when at the funeral home, the director/ owner tried to sell us an upgraded "higher warranty seal" casket. Although he was extremely nice, and the funeral was all prepaid years ago, I asked him " How do you know if the seal is good or bad 10-20 years down the road. Do you do some kind of boroscope camera inspection 6 ft. down later on ? He blushed and said it was the tested manufacturers warrant for a higher performing seal. I then unloaded this question from previous research " I read from a local casket manufacturer in Indiana, that you want a seal that will deteriorate so the body can decompose more naturally, Im just sayin? His face became redder and redder and his disposition changed from Oh so nice to stern. My mother stepped in and made me stop the badgering, saying we will take what we have paid for and nothing more! Ironicly the name of the funeral home was Crooks and Crooks, pun intended toward the industry, not these guys. They are really good Christian folks there sincerely! Hope this helps someone!!!
20 Saturday, 10 October 2015 00:50
michael kiser
just do the cremation, and don't pay for the expensive urn to put them in ou can find beautiful wood boxes with inlaid wood at your local tj maxx for about 13 bucks and they work just as well. .I spent 2000 on dads cremation and a few dollars for his little cards to be printed up and that was it. we put him in th ground in between his niece and his mother . i ordered him a lttle engraved flat stone from this websight it was laser burned into granite and they put his picture on it.. it looked great and was only about 187 bucks for it..
21 Tuesday, 20 October 2015 22:51
when my mom died in july 2015, In my family, I alone was the one that could afford to pay for the funeral. My dad and mom hadn't saved for it. My 3 siblings couldn't pay-no money. I shopped around at all of our local funeral homes. Most had a LOW price of $6900. Only 2 were @ $4000. I chose the cheapest burial package at 3995 + tax "Quoted." It still came out to be 5900 when the total bill arrived. I took the flower vehicle out of the package and i chose the cheapest casket they had. (Sarcasm) "i didn't know that tax on funerals were 27-30% i thought they were more around 7-12 percent for sales/services." I felt like I was nickeled and dimed to pay for more services than I asked. My dad is 81, and when the time comes, I'm now looking at covering his funeral by DIY. Building a casket, picking him up @ the hospital, dressing him out myself, skipping embalment, doing all services at the church and putting him in the ground myself. I'm getting a contractor to open and close and place the vault for $450. My siblings want this or that, but unless they share the cost it's my way. I learned from the last funeral that family members have no idea what the costs are, and no problem spending my money to give our dead parent a send-off they think befits them. I agree with some prior posts. Spending a lot of money on a dead person when you wouldn't do it when they were alive is a waste. I loved my mom and I love my dad, but why waste money on them when they aren't there to enjoy it?
22 Tuesday, 27 October 2015 23:33
WOW! I'm learning and have learned a lot. Just did a HOME FUNERAL not a believer in putting money in the ground. WHY?
The cost for the entire funeral was the cost of the casket and gas to the cemetery. A total of $400.00 rounded off. It may have cost another $1000 to $2000 because it was a veteran and the VA pays for the opening/closing cost. Still it would have been waay cheaper than paying $5000 and beyond
23 Tuesday, 24 November 2015 17:59
How do I pay for my dad's funeral costs is there some one who can help me

Add your comment

Your name: