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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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

Another factor in the cremation trend: preneed insurance premiums

Posted in Cremation, Guaranteed, Insurance Funded, Preneed, Preplanning, Price Protection, Price Protection
Our preneed provides peace of mind by freeing your family from the burdens of rising funeral costs and from making difficult decisions during their time of grief. Since the inception of the transaction sixty years ago, that statement has defined preneed marketing. Even the AARP recently embrace the peace of mind concept. The inflationary protection… 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

Kansas Cemetery Legislation: a second bite at the apple

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Preneed, Reform
It is a bit of déjà vu for Kansas cemeteries. Legislation to increase preneed trusting and to require monthly reporting was introduced in the Kansas House. But HB 2240 will look familiar to those cemetery corporations that participated in 2009 and 2010 cemetery legislative meetings conducted by the Kansas Secretary of State. As previously reported… Continue Reading

Four Loaded Questions: Missouri Cemetery Preneed

Posted in Cemeteries, Missouri - SB1, Preneed
Missouri cemeteries received a brief questionnaire last week from their primary regulator. The Office of Endowed Care Cemeteries (the OECC) has responsibility for enforcement of Chapter 214, the Missouri law that governs endowed care requirements and preneed sold by licensed cemeteries. The OECC would seem to be sizing up cemeteries as candidates for Chapter 214… Continue Reading

The Smart Deal: Federal time in the offing

Posted in Cemeteries
In the end, Clayton will likely spend many of his final days in a federal penitentiary. The Memphis Commercial Appeal outlines the plea bargain to be entered by Clayton Smart to conclude criminal investigations in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Michigan. Comments made to the Commercial Appeal story express outrage with the prosecutors and the plea bargain.… Continue Reading

Missouri Cemetery Reform: New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Cemeteries, Missouri - SB1, Preneed, Reporting
In a move to remain autonomous from the funeral industry and its oversight, the Missouri cemetery industry met with its regulator during the summer of 2008 to discuss reform legislation. Disagreements precluded effective legislation from being passed in 2009, but extensive changes was passed in 2010, and became effective on August 28, 2010. Now, the Missouri… Continue Reading

Serving Time in Kansas: Fairlawn Burial Park

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
Families and funeral homes harmed by NPS will hope that company’s owners and officers have to face a judge like the Honorable Richard Rome. The Hutchinson News reported that District Judge Richard Rome rejected a plea bargain for probation, and sentenced Fairlawn Burial Park’s owner to almost 5 years in prison. A Kansas Secretary of… Continue Reading

Mt. Washington: More NPS Fallout

Posted in Cemeteries, NPS/Lincoln
Almost a year to the date after SB1 was signed into law, one of the NPS sister companies was forced to close its doors. The recent Kansas City Star article about Mt. Washington Forever Funeral Home and Cemetery describes a situation that confused and disheartened the families who purchased Mt. Washington preneed contracts. The Missouri… Continue Reading

Under New Management!

Posted in Cemeteries
Kansas regulators want to be able to put a new sign in front of a troubled Hutchison cemetery: Under New Management! And, it would please the state of Kansas and the city of Hutchison if that new management team does not include them. State and local officials appreciate that the grave lot owners, and the… Continue Reading

The Domino Effect: the Smart plea

Posted in Cemeteries
Forest Hills’ preneed consumers were hoping for news of retribution, but Clayton Smart’s anticipated plea bargain was put on hold. If news reports are accurate, authorities from Tennessee (and perhaps Michigan and Indiana) have their sites on the individual(s) who facilitated the transactions that eventually left preneed trusts and permanent maintenance trusts depleted. For the… Continue Reading

Regulatory Intervention: the Kansas plan

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation
The Topeka Capital-Journal has identified the essence of the Secretary of State’s plan for Kansas cemetery regulation: addressing cemetery problems before the trusts go upside down. There are two types of cemetery trusts: perpetual care trusts and preneed trusts. Perpetual care trusts (or permanent maintenance trusts) provide the cemetery crucial funding for mowing, and the… Continue Reading

March Madness: Kansas cemetery legislation

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Preneed, Reform
With two of the nation’s top ten college basketball teams, Kansans are exhibiting clear symptoms of March Madness. With Topeka located between Lawrence and Manhattan, bipartisanship may be tested as tensions mount this week with the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA seedings announcement on Sunday. When Kansas legislators resume their meetings the week of… Continue Reading

Missouri Cemetery Preneed Law: zero to eighty while blindfolded

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Missouri - SB1, Preneed
The fear of SB1 drove the Missouri cemetery industry to push for Chapter 214 legislation in 2009, only to have the wheels come off at the stroke of midnight last May. While legislation was passed, the original bill was gutted, and the resulting changes were incoherent and confusing. It was no surprise that the industry… Continue Reading

Cemetery Legislation in the Heartland

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Reform
Regulators in Missouri and Kansas will be pursuing legislation this spring for more authority in providing oversight to cemeteries. With its Burr Oak problems, Illinois can’t be too far behind. Whether it is the economy or the unscrupulous owner, regulators are finding they lack both the expertise and authority to properly protect the cemetery consumer.… Continue Reading

But for the veterans

Posted in Cemeteries
Veterans Day invariably results in a few newspaper articles similar to the one written about the Pittston City Cemetery. Out of respect for veterans’ graves, this small Pennsylvania town is seeking volunteers to provide care to its cemetery. Budget cuts and personnel cuts have left Pittston without the resources to provide maintenance to the cemetery.… Continue Reading

But, I was going to pay it back..

Posted in Cemeteries
Death care regulators seem to believe that the majority of funeral home and cemetery operators are honest and well intended.  But, the regulators must contend with the occasional operator who views trust funds as their own.  Before taking offense with the regulator’s skepticism, operators need to reflect on the arrogance of operators such as those reflected in a… Continue Reading

Third time’s the Charm: Preneed Legislation

Posted in Cemeteries, Funeral, IFDA, Legislation, Missouri - SB1, Preneed, Reform
The old axiom was that it would take three consecutive legislative sessions to get a preneed bill passed. If Missouri and Illinois are indicators of the current preneed reform movement, the charm may be based not on attempts but actual bills passed by the legislature. The Illinois Comptroller’s proposal for preneed reform, SB1682, is progressing… Continue Reading

Taking Cemeteries to Task: Quinn’s Report

Posted in Cemeteries
Governor Quinn’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force worked overtime to get their report done early, and Illinois’ death care industry now faces new questions about reform legislation.  It would appear that SB1682 will not be the last shot fired in the battle for death care reform for Illinois. The full report is available on the Governor’s… Continue Reading

Cemetery Preneed Oversight: the bucket factor

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
Recent cemetery failures are causing regulators from Illinois, Missouri and Kansas to take a closer look at the oversight provided for preneed sales of vaults, markers, urns and burial services. Cemetery preneed is a different animal for that offered by funeral homes. As Mr. Newcomer suggested to a reporter, the big difference between the two… Continue Reading