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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Licensing cemeteries

Posted in Cemeteries
Recent problems in Illinois and Kansas have prompted funeral directors, and funeral regulators, to recommend that more regulation should be required of cemeteries, including licensing. What’s good for us is good for you. When the Illinois Comptroller assured the public that the state was acting promptly to revoke Burr Oak’s license, many distraught families could… Continue Reading

Another factor in the rising costs of death care: regulation

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation
What transpired over the years at Burr Oak Cemetery is an atrocity. Hundreds of grave spaces have been desecrated, causing extreme emotional distress to all families having a loved one buried at the cemetery. The demand for action has been intense, and Illinois politicians have responded with legislative proposals to improve oversight of cemeteries. The… Continue Reading

Illinois’ Cemeteries and SB 1682

Posted in Cemeteries
NPS’ sister corporation, Forever Illinois, used the Illinois self trusting provisions to administer preneed funds.  As with funeral operators, Senate Bill 1682 will force Illinois cemeteries to seek corporate fiduciaries to administer their preneed and endowed care funds. … Continue Reading

Cemeteries, funeral homes, and conflicts

Posted in Cemeteries, Funeral
John Penton has a valid point. Funeral homes and cemeteries compete for the vault sale. And, the price of a grave space will impact what a family will pay for a traditional funeral and burial. So, when a cemetery faces economic challenges that impact the maintenance of graves, should competing funeral directors be allowed to… Continue Reading

Rules are Rules

Posted in Cemeteries
Rules and regulations provide an important framework for the operation and maintenance of a cemetery.  However, cemeteries should retain the flexibility to revise their rules to adapt to changes in operations, business and customs.   It’s difficult to understand why a cemetery would risk complaints and the prospect of losing business by rigidly adhering to a set… Continue Reading

My way, or the highway: reasonable cemetery rules

Posted in Cemeteries
Like homeowner’s covenants, ownership of an interment right in a burial space comes subject to the cemetery’s published rules. Cemetery rules are used to regulate such issues as the planting of trees and shrubs, establishing uniform requirements for markers, the removal of decorations, and a transfer of the interment right. Consequently, it’s common for states… Continue Reading

Houston, we have a problem

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, NPS/Lincoln, Preneed
When Missouri’s Chapter 436/NPS reform legislation began to take shape last summer, the state’s cemetery industry sought to get out of the train’s way by incorporating new preneed provisions into a Chapter 214 bill. To clarify that cemeteries could establish preneed programs that would be regulated exclusively under Chapter 214, and not Chapter 436, statutory… Continue Reading

Lost in the translation: Missouri’s preneed exemption of cemeteries

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Preneed, Reform
The Missouri Legislature has reform of Chapter 436, the preneed funeral law, on the fast track. With the speed that Senate Bill 1 has been amended and perfected, it may be more appropriate to label this reform as being in the express lane. However, Missouri legislators must not lose track of the cemetery industry’s efforts… Continue Reading

The long, winding road to reform: Michigan

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Reform
Even when the need for reform is apparent to all, the legislative process can take years. With the Michigan Senate having approved a House substitute, that state’s cemeteries are a step closer to reform that could have avoided Clayton Smart’s pillaging of $70 million dollars of endowed care funds. The Michigan Legislature’s website provides the… Continue Reading

Who would have thought it: a Forever cemetery and financial irregularities

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
When its Halloween, the media is naturally attracted to a story that involves horror and a cemetery.  The Belleville News-Democrat found a new type of horror for its seasonal article involving a cemetery: Missing Trust Funds! For added suspense, the newspaper reports there are two cemeteries, and both were (or are?) owned and operated by Forever… Continue Reading

Consumer Advocacy: Pulling Punches

Posted in Cemeteries, Consumer Advocates, Funeral, Legislation, Preneed
Funeral homes and cemeteries are businesses that serve families when they are most vulnerable. To guard against exploitation, the death care industry establishes standards of professionalism, and state governments pass laws and regulations. Consumer advocacy plays an important role in educating consumers about these standards, and providing families tools in evaluating death care operators. To… Continue Reading

Cemetery Associations: Where’s the manual?

Posted in Cemeteries
Who do you turn to when grass isn’t being cut, or the grave marker falls over? Or, who can approve the transfer of the ownership of my mother’s grave space?  Ultimately, the answer depends on who owns the cemetery. But, determining who owns the cemetery can often prove confusing to both the public and the cemetery regulator. … Continue Reading

Trade Association Membership: weighing the costs vs. the benefits

Posted in Cemeteries, Funeral, Preneed
Mortuary Management’s July/August Colleague Wisdom column underscores how difficult it can be to run a trade association. I can empathize with the funeral home operators who took the time to provide their thoughts. As an attorney who specializes in the death care industry, I have to weigh the costs and benefits of membership in trade associations from… Continue Reading

Who is buried next to mom?

Posted in Cemeteries
David L. Bingham, Jr. (Junior) is getting his 15 minutes of fame.  The Associated Press ran Junior’s story about  the wrong David L. Bingham, Sr. having been buried next to his mother.   The cemetery has offered Junior some options for correcting the misburial, but he has rejected them all.   A demand for compensation is in the… Continue Reading

Delaware’s Cemetery Oversight Legislation – how many cooks are in the kitchen

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation
One of our first blog posts was about Delaware’s legislative effort to tackle the state’s growing problems with cemetery oversight. After a recent public hearing before the legislative study committee, it doesn’t sound like the committee is any closer to a consensus on what the state’s solution should be. Sen. Margaret Rose Henry may be getting a… Continue Reading

Grandview Memorial Gardens: Round up the suspects

Posted in Cemeteries, Fiduciary, Legislation, Preneed, Reform
The families of those buried at Grandview Memorial Gardens are angry.  First they are advised that the trusts meant to fund future burials and the care for those graves are not properly funded. Next, they learn that some of the cemetery’s gardens have a problem with grave spaces flooding with water. When Indiana regulators and prosecutors reported… Continue Reading

Cemetery Oversight – Delaware Legislation

Posted in Cemeteries
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… Continue Reading