CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Making funeral arrangements can be an emotional experience, and expensive, but you can make financial decisions about funerals ahead of time. Both state and federal laws regulate funeral homes and directors.

A former South Hadley funeral home owner plead not guilty on Wednesday to indictments charging him with larceny and improper disposal of human bodies. The District Attorney’s Office says Ryder embezzled over $350,000 from 70 customers that were prepaying for “pre need” funeral arrangements.

Malagros Johnson, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information in Springfield has some tips to avoid being taken advantage of: If you are making pre-funeral arrangements, you should check to see if they are licensed. If you wish to prepay, the director must provide you with a standard contract.

“Consumers do have protection when they do pre-funeral arrangements,” Johnson explained. “They are protected in Massachusetts and I would recommend that consumers contact the Department of Professional Licensure or the office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations or even the Attorney General’s Office if they need guidance.”

You can find information on prepaying for funeral arrangements on the website of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.