1.A daughter asked if they can assign the life insurance on their mother's life insurance to the funeral home for burial. what does that mean?  They ask that the assignment be irrevocable.  Discuss the difference between revocable and irrevocable burial account.  The same daughter states that she is the executor of her mother's estate and as such will control her mother's burial.  She wants you to not listen to other siblings when her mother dies and only follow her wishes to cremate her mother.  what will you say to the daughter?  Does her status as the executor allow her that right?          2. Second question:  You are considering advertising package funerals at your Funeral Home.  By that you mean that you will offer families a certain casket; wake and funeral options for one low price.  Is that legal under the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule?  What if the family wants to bring their own casket into you Funeral Home?  Are they able to do so?  Can you refuse their business?  Can you charge them a service fee charge for the casket accepting a casket from a casket store? 3. Another question:  The bombing the decedent (Tamerlan Tsarnaev) and the controversy over his burial highlights the plight of the FD who said any decedent, even Hitler, deserved a burial.  Do you agree with this as we discuss your own ethics in this class?  would you bury him which the FD said he would do even if he has to pay out of his own pocket?  Expanding this point would you bury an overweight or AIDS patient even if it represented more work for you.  As we have also discussed are you also legally required to bury these people who might claim discrimination?

1. Irrevocable is to shelter assets for Medicaid eligibility. In some states, you can't assign insurance; they'll have to cash it in getting pennies on the dollar. There is also a limit in many states as to how much can be sheltered but no limit in RI.

In RI, the mother can name a designated agent for body disposition. That would allow one sibling to make all the decisions. Executor does not have that power without also being named an agent.

2. Yes, you can offer package prices but you also have to give the family an itemized GPL. You don't have to offer that package if they bring their own casket. It is illegal to charge a handling fee if they do. It would be a very poor business choice to refuse their business, and if it appeared to be any kind of discrimination, it would be illegal.

3. I believe the purpose of life is to learn unselfishness and to serve others. Furthermore, discrimination is illegal.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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