About the FCAEM Funeral Price Survey
Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts (FCAEM) conducts periodic price surveys of all funeral establishments in eastern Massachusetts, including Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties.
Please read our summary guide below for an overview of your rights and for descriptions of typical services offered. If you choose to use a funeral home (and that is a choice!), the staff are likely to be happy to accommodate your specific requests, but don’t forget your rights and don’t be afraid to ask and clarify services you do and don’t want, as well as costs, as you go!
Guide to the Funeral Price Survey Summary
How to Use the Funeral Price Survey Summary
There are many legitimate reasons to choose one funeral home over another, or to choose not to use a funeral home: location, price, family history, personal connections, size, preference for a home funeral, etc. It is beyond our means to say which funeral home has the best service or the best prices. The purpose of this guide is to provide consumers with guidelines for comparing one funeral home to the range of other options in Eastern Massachusetts.
Using a Funeral Home for Limited Services
In Massachusetts, the use of a funeral director is NOT required by law. Families can do all of the arrangements on their own or they can hire funeral directors to provide only limited services, such as filing the necessary legal paperwork and transporting the body. In such cases, the “basic services fee” (see below) should not apply.
A Funeral with or without Embalming
Embalming is NOT required by law in the state of Massachusetts. Many funeral homes recommend embalming or assume that customers will want embalming. Most have a policy of requiring embalming if there is to be an open casket at the viewing. Such a requirement is a business policy and not a legal requirement. Refrigeration or ice packs are another alternative to preserving the body for several days before final disposition. If you are caring for the body at home or outside a funeral home, there are simple ways to keep the body cool and delay decomposition. For more information about what happens when a body is embalmed, what embalming does, and why alternative methods also provide temporary preservation of the body, visit the Caring for Your Own Dead page of our website or go to the national Funeral Consumers Alliance website.
Some terms explained
Basic Services Fee
The basic services fee should appear as the first item on a General Price List. (GPL). The fee is a baseline fee for overhead and general services…
Direct or immediate cremation is a simple cremation package that does not include any viewing or ceremony…
Immediate burial is an itemized ‘package’ which funeral homes are required to offer. The Federal Trade Commission assumes…
Caskets & Alternative Containers
Caskets can be purchased from a funeral home or other provider or made at home. The funeral home may NOT charge…
Grave Liner / Burial Vault
Many cemeteries require that caskets be buried inside of another box, known as a grave liner or burial vault, usually…