For the second time in 7 years, the Delaware legislature is taking up the issue of cemetery oversight. As with most death care legislation, Delaware’s Cemetery Study Committee faces two hurdles: finding answers for aging cemeteries that lack revenues for maintenance, and reconciling the conflicting goals of cemeterians, funeral homes, monument vendors, local governments and the public.
Neglect is already a problem for cemeteries established before perpetual care was a requirement, and it will become an issue for cemeteries that are not proactive in enforcing existing PC requirements. In a sense, there are two different problems and finding a way to provide care for the older, "public" cemetery will be the greatest challenge. Frequently the answer to this situation is more taxes and county/municipality control over the cemetery.
With regard to cemeteries that have ‘inventory’ to sell, enforcement of perpetual care requirements is the priority. However, with the costs of funeral and burials on the rise, the death care industry will be reluctant to accept requirements that drive up the cost of a grave space.
While many cemetery operators have embraced the need to properly fund and administer perpetual care trusts, laws need to better enforce PC funding requirements and afford fiduciaries more flexibility in how PC funds are invested.