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An Oversaturated Market 2014

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If we were to die Monday through Friday — with one funeral a day — and two weeks off for the mortician's vacation, the following chart shows the number of funeral homes that would be needed in each state, compared to the actual number. There are undoubtedly some funeral homes that can handle more than one funeral a day, which reduces the "needed" number accordingly and probably explains the figures for California, Hawaii, and Nevada.

Certainly in rural areas with sparse population, a funeral home does not expect the dying business to be a full-time one, and more establishments will be needed to cover the geographic area than the number generated by a simple death-rate formula. In most other states, however, the number of funeral homes far exceeds that which can be reasonably supported by the death-rate. (In Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, there are almost four times the needed mortuaries; in Iowa there are five times too many!)

Why are so many funeral homes still in business? Because of high mark-ups that consumers pay — either willingly or because they just don't know what their other options are. It's a situation that invites pricing abuse!

How Many Funeral Homes Needed
State Deaths Annually Existing Funeral Homes Needed Number of Funeral Homes
AK 3,728 20 15
AL 48,038 407 192
AZ 46,762 144 187
AR 28,916 279 116
CA 234,012 806 936
CO 31,465 182 126
CT 28,692 261 115
DC 4,672 27 19
DE 7,706 65 31
FL 173,791 831 695
GA 71,263 572 285
HI 9,617 21 38
ID 11,429 71 46
IL 99,931 1027 400
IN 56,743 575 227
IA 27,745 397 111
KS 24,502 313 98
KY 41,983 459 168
LA 40,667 274 163
ME 12,750 110 51
MD 43,325 270 173
MA 52,583 519 210
MI 88,021 651 352
MN 38,972 368 156
MS 28,965 345 116
MO 55,281 498 221
MT 8,827 70 35
NE 15,171 215 61
NV 19,623 52 78
NH 10,201 90 41
NJ 69,495 660 278
NM 15,931 73 64
NY 146,432 1579 586
NC 78,773 607 315
ND 5,944 68 24
OH 108,711 1086 435
OK 36,529 325 146
OR 31,890 165 128
PA 124,596 1585 498
RI 9,579 79 38
SC 41,614 386 166
SD 7,100 92 28
TN 59,578 414 238
TX 166,527 1128 666
UT 14,776 84 59
VT 5,380 56 22
VA 59,032 490 236
WA 48,146 179 193
WV 21,275 255 85
WI 47,308 496 189
WY 4,438 30 18
Number of funeral homes needed=1 funeral/day, 5 days/wk, 50 wks/yr
Death data from 2012. FH data from 2013 






Last Updated ( Friday, 24 October 2014 10:24 )

New from the FTC-en Espanol

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The Federal Trade Commission has revised two extremely helpful documents for funeral consumers. Even better, they're available in Spanish, too. Check out El último adiós and Compra de servicios fúnebresFCA Affiliates—Note that you can order paper versions of these in bulk, free, from the FTC. You can also (and should) host these new pamphlets directly on your site. 

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The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has revised two brochures to help consumers make funeral choices, either in advance or at a time of need.

Paying Final Respects summarizes consumer rights under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, which helps to ensure that people get information so they can compare prices among funeral homes. For example, consumers have a right to buy only the funeral goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming) they want, and to get a written, itemized price list when they visit a funeral home.

Shopping for Funeral Services provides a detailed guide to various kinds of funeral goods and services, includes a pricing checklist, glossary, and contact information for national organizations.

You can order the publications at The FTC has related information online in a series of articles that explain consumer rights, describe types of funeral products and services, and help shoppers compare providers. The FTC has compliance information for people in the funeral industry at

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 07 July 2014 13:38 )

Mom Adds Sandbox to Boy's Grave So Older Son Can Play with His Brother

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People Magazine
March 13, 2014

By Kelli Bender

A mother's tribute to her deceased 5-day-old son – the addition of a sandbox to his grave, so her older boy could continue to play with his brother – has quickly gone viral on Facebook, with more than 220,000 users sharing her photo.

Ashlee Hammac, 24, says she originally planned to decorate the gravesite of her son Ryan with glass pebbles, but then realized her older son, Tucker, needed his own place to mourn.

"The more I thought about it, the more I wanted something my other son Tucker could be incorporated in," Hammac told PEOPLE. "He always goes out there with me, and sits out there, and sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there. So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks."

Read the full article at People Magazine


Who Has the Legal Right to Arrange a Funeral?

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By Josh Slocum
Executive Director
Funeral Consumers Alliance

Conflicts between family members and interested parties over who has the legal right and precedence to make funeral arrangements for a person are sadly common. Here are the basics.

Designated Agents---Most states have some form of a law that allows a person to legally designate anyone she wishes to have the sole legal right to make and carry out funeral arrangements. For a list by state, see this link.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 March 2014 21:07 ) Read more...

Court reinstate's Pennsylvania's irrational, protectionist rules

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The Third Circuit Court overturned a lower-court ruling, reinstating nearly all of Pennsylvania's blatantly protectionist, anti-competitive laws restricting who can own funeral homes, what they can be called, whether they can serve food, and more. FCA filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the plaintiffs, led by funeral director Ernie Heffner, when the case was before the district court. We agreed that many of the state laws at issue actually harmed consumers by preventing competition and innovation among funeral homes by propping up existing large, powerful funeral home operators. 

Read the ruling here.

The Institute for Justice issued the following press release. Note: We do not know what the next steps for the plaintiffs may be. 

Arlington, Va.—Today, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that invalidated 10 of Pennsylvania’s outdated, irrational and, in most cases, blatantly anti-competitive funeral regulations as unconstitutional. The case was brought by a group of Pennsylvania funeral directors and challenged several of Pennsylvania’s funeral laws, including a requirement that every funeral home have an embalming room. The Institute for Justice filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing the regulations are ineffective and wasteful and that it is the judiciary’s job to engage in a meaningful evaluation of whether laws serve their purposes and to strike them down as unconstitutional when they do not.

“Today’s court decision completely ignored evidence that Pennsylvania’s funeral regulations do nothing to advance the public health and did little more than rubber stamp an irrational, protectionist law,” said IJ Attorney Dan Alban, who authored IJ’s amicus brief in the Heffner v. Murphy case. “As IJ’s brief argued, proper application of the rational-basis test demands that courts engage in a genuine, meaningful review of the evidence to determine whether a law actually accomplishes its purposes, which is something that the court did not do today.”

The lawsuit brought by several smaller Pennsylvania funeral directors challenged 10 of Pennsylvania’s funeral regulations as unconstitutional and anti-competitive. Included among the challenged regulations is Pennsylvania’s requirement that all funeral homes be outfitted with an embalming room, even if the embalming room is never used—a law that is nearly identical to the embalming-room requirement that IJ successfully challenged in Minnesota.

“The 3rd Circuit’s decision essentially makes it impossible for entrepreneurs to change useless laws that exist only to protect large funeral homes from competition,” Alban said. “As the court acknowledged, funeral directors tried to get the law changed in the legislature in 2008 and failed because large funeral homes opposed it. Nonetheless, the court refused to do its job and strike down the law, stating that entrepreneurs should just try again in the legislature, even though history shows their attempts would be futile.”

“Today’s ruling shows what happens when courts fail to subject regulations to meaningful scrutiny and reinforces the need for courts to reclaim their role as the branch of government responsible for checking the legislature,” said Clark Neily, IJ senior attorney and author of “Terms of Engagement,” a book arguing in favor of judicial engagement.
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