Can a funeral home cancel services after they’ve already been paid?

UPDATED: Dec 3, 2011

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Can a funeral home cancel services after they’ve already been paid?

Its less than 12 hours before the actual funeral services and the funeral home director has canceled the funeral. We agreed upon a certain time services would start, however the director changed the time of the funeral without notifying the family. We did not know of the change until we viewed the obituary in the newspaper. Once confronted about the change he canceled the funeral.

Asked on December 3, 2011 under General Practice, Louisiana


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The funeral director cannot cancel a funeral. First and foremost, if he made a mistake, that is his problem not yours and he will need to eat the cost and still hold the funeral at the time you indicated to friends and family. Second, contact the police immediately because this could in some way (depending on state law) be considered theft of a body so you may wish to ensure he continues with this funeral. Third, this may be a breach (in addition to breach of contract) of his ethics responsibilities under his funeral director license. You need to report him to the proper licensing agency come Monday. In the meantime, contact the police immediately. They might be able to locate the right people to change this person's mind.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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