Death Care Compliance Law

Death Care Compliance Law

Preneed: A Pandora's Box of Problems

William Stalter is the founder of Stalter Legal Services and the Preneed Resource Company. Bill focuses his law practice on preneed and death care compliance, serving banks, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries. He has written multiple published articles

Category Archives: Cemeteries

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A Treasury Market Out of Whack: Preneed Insurers and Preneed Sellers

Posted in Insurance Funded, Investments, Preneed, Preneed Development, Preneed Development, Preneed Shortfalls, Price Protection, Price Protection, Uncategorized
In our last post, we used Allan Sloan’s article on the Treasury bond market to highlight the investment exposures to death care trusts.  Today we will look at how the Treasury market is also impacting funeral homes that rely upon insurance for preneed funding.  Mr. Sloan’s article alluded to insurance companies being required by statute… Continue Reading

A Treasury Market Out of Whack: Putting a hurt on death care funds

Posted in Care Funds, Cemeteries, Compliance, Investments
The July 25th Marketplace Morning Report on National Public Radio included a segment called Allan Sloan’s lessons on bond investments. Mr. Sloan is a business columnist for the Washington Post who recently wrote that the current Treasury bond market is “out of whack”, and poses a risker investment than the stock markets. Mr. Sloan wrote:… Continue Reading

Surprise Fees? Not if You Read the Contract

Posted in Cemeteries, Compliance, Guaranteed, Non-guaranteed, Preneed, Preplanning
A local Kansas City television station recently ran a story about a consumer’s complaint that his preneed contract did not cover “surprise fees”.   The consumer had purchased the preneed contract from a Kansas City funeral home/cemetery combo where he had also purchased a grave space.   One fact regarding the preneed contract that jumped out to… Continue Reading

Preneed Turf War: Pennsylvania Funeral Directors and StoneMor

Posted in Cemeteries, Cemetery Development, Legislation, Preneed, Preneed Development, Trust Funded
In an unusual move for a death care regulator, the Federal Trade Commission weighed in on the preneed turf war that has erupted between Pennsylvania funeral directors and StoneMor Partners.   At the request of the chairman for a Pennsylvania legislative committee, the FTC responded with a detailed letter warning against various bill proposals aimed at… Continue Reading

Cemetery Care Fund Reports: The Operator’s Vicarious Liability

Posted in Cemeteries, Fiduciary, Reporting
Typically, the standard by which a cemetery is judged to be abandoned is whether the grass is getting cut.  But for licensed cemeteries, some states’ laws may also include provisions to deem a cemetery abandoned when regulatory reports are not filed.   Care fund reports are intended to inform the cemetery regulator whether the operator is… Continue Reading

Cemetery Care Trusts: The Public Interests

Posted in Care Funds, Cemeteries
The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) made an old but persuasive argument to get the IRS to exempt cemetery care trusts from the Medicare tax that will fund ObamaCare.  As discussed in a prior post, the IRS had initially proposed to apply the tax to both cemetery care trusts and preneed trusts.  With… Continue Reading

Green Gardens: an option for the city cemetery?

Posted in Cemeteries
In its past two newsletters, my local chapter of the Funeral Consumer Alliance has reported on the difficulties in finding cemeteries that permit natural burials. In the Spring newsletter, the FCA of Greater KC reported on how the Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas was reconsidering natural burials at one of its six cemeteries. In the… Continue Reading

The “Problem” Cemetery: The Difference a Trustee Makes

Posted in Cemeteries
As cemeteries struggle with harsh economic conditions, regulators are bound to look at their ‘problem cemeteries’ and weigh whether legal proceedings are necessary to preserve the care funds mandated by state law. To the extent such proceedings are premised in part on how capital gains are defined and whether distributions from capital gains are an… Continue Reading

Wisconsin Cemeteries: Who needs a fiduciary?

Posted in Cemeteries
Here is proof that readership of newspapers is going down. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called a few weeks back about a Wisconsin legislative bill that sought investment freedom for cemetery trust funds.  With the legislative battle that was waged a year ago in Wisconsin, we had expected the bill might represent a renewed effort to… Continue Reading

Cemeteries: the insurance void

Posted in Administration, Cemeteries, Funeral, Preneed
For obvious reasons, life insurance is the preneed funding choice for many funeral directors. One hundred percent trusting laws give proactive preneed organizations no choice but to use insurance funding. Insurance provides the commissions needed to finance marketing and a sales force, and, maybe as important, relieves the funeral home from preneed accounting and administration.… Continue Reading

Cemetery Preneed Challenges: bucket accounting

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
As alluded to in our prior post, the cemetery’s ability to deliver burial rights and merchandise prior to death complicates the preneed transaction.  In a post, we labeled this the ‘bucket factor’ (Cemetery Preneed Oversight: the bucket factor).  In addition to burial spaces, cemeteries can deliver markers, monuments, vases, urns, outer containers and vaults prior… Continue Reading

The Preneed Haves and Have Nots

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
It is no secret that the larger funeral home operators have more preneed options than the industry’s mom and pops. The large operators have the volume of business that will attract insurance companies and banks, and their program incentives and discounts. Economies of scale provide the larger operator preneed advantages when going ‘toe to toe’… Continue Reading

Private Burial Grounds: better plan ahead

Posted in Cemeteries
The Internet has provided consumer advocates a valuable platform for educating the public with ‘how to’ death care information. But, for the most part, that ‘how to’ information has been confined to the funeral half of the equation. A recent Mother Earth News article provided a detailed description of the issues faced by the author… Continue Reading

Oak Ridge Cemetery: Netting to Make Ends Meet

Posted in Cemeteries
In relation to many of its peers, Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery could be labeled progressive. Oak Ridge maintains both an endowed care trust and a preneed trust. In contrast, a substantial number of the country’s cemeteries have neither. The fact that Oak Ridge Cemetery is owned and operated by the City of Springfield, Illinois, makes… Continue Reading

Competing Mortuaries and Cemeteries: when everyone loses

Posted in Cemeteries
Mortuary Management recently ran a short editorial criticizing cemeteries, stating “we can only conclude that cemeteries will, in the long run, be the losers”, and “it may be time for a reevaluation of standards and staunch principles of the past”. The editorial is nothing more than a handful of comments from anonymous funeral directors about… Continue Reading

KC Funeral Consumer Alliance: Cemetery Survey

Posted in Cemeteries, Consumer Advocates, Preneed, Preplanning
The funeral industry may grumble about the FTC’s Funeral Rule, but two disclosures required by that law play important roles in the preneed transaction. The general price list is often used by funeral homes as a tool for comparing prices with the competition. And when a prearranged funeral is performed, the statement of goods and services… Continue Reading

But who is going to bury Momma?

Posted in Cemeteries
When a cemetery operator and the regulator get crossways with each other, the threat to close the cemetery is often countered with the question of whether the regulator is going to step in and perform the burials. And when the regulator sticks to his/her guns, the results are often similar to that seen in Dunkirk,… Continue Reading