The Andrew T. Scheid Funeral Home has been accused of leaving an unembalmed body unrefrigerated for three days, not returning cremated remains to loved ones and other misconduct that has roiled customers.
In an industry based on reputation, Kathleen Ryan, executive director of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, says such misconduct is rare.
Nevertheless, Ryan says there are numerous things consumers should keep in mind.
Making a choice
If you haven’t worked with a specific funeral home before, get recommendations from friends or family. The Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association's website also offers a searchable list of licensed homes as a starting point.
Through the Pennsylvania Licensing System, www.pals.pa.gov, consumers can look for disciplinary actions about funeral homes or funeral directors.
Know the price
Whether planning ahead of time or in a time of need, federal law requires funeral homes to disclose basic pricing information to consumers BEFORE they start shopping or discussing services.
This General Price List covers basic services but may exclude charges for caskets and vaults. You can request a copy of a funeral home’s General Price List even if you are just shopping around, and they must give it to you to keep.
Pre-pay v. pre-plan
While some funeral homes promote pre-payment plans, it’s best to be cautious.
A possible benefit of prepaying is that money you set aside in an irrevocable trust will be excluded from your net assets when your eligibility to receive Supplementary Security Income or Medicaid benefits is determined. Unless that’s the case, Ryan says it’s best to pre-plan without pre-paying.
If there’s a problem
On its website, www.pals.pa.gov, The Pennsylvania Licensing System accepts complaints about professional and occupational licensees, including funeral directors.
The Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association also has a process for addressing public complaints against funeral directors and funeral homes. For more information, visit www.pfda.org/grievance-complaints
In addition, complaints can also be filed with the state Office of Attorney General at www.attorneygeneral.gov.
At least two families came to pick up the bodies of their loved ones — with police on site —…