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Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death




Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death, Josh Slocum and Lisa Carlson. 512 pages, Upper Access Publishing. $19.95 (with shipping included, total $22.50).

Jessica Mitford’s classic exposé, The American Way of Death, drew back the curtain on the funeral industry’s excess.Final Rights investigates the $15-billion funeral and burial industry in 2011, exposing consumer abuse, financial exploitation of the bereaved, and how government regulators can’t be counted on to protect the grieving.

  • In eight states the law says you have to hire a funeral home, even if you want to care for deceased relative privately.
  • Almost $1 billion has been stolen from trust funds and insurance policies families paid for to ensure their last wishes were carried out. Where were the regulators?
  • Interested in a formaldehyde-free funeral? Better be careful, as the conventional burial industry is finding creative ways to make your green send-off as pricey as possible.
  • The Federal Trade Commission gives you specific protections when you buy from a funeral home, but they disappear when you get to the graveyard. Find out why, and how to watch your wallet at the graveside.

Final Rights takes on these topics and more, offering consumers a road-map to help themselves find a funeral that fits their needs and their budget. The only book of its kind, Final Rights includes a chapter on the laws in each state, written in plain English, with suggestions for needed reforms.


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