Frequently Asked Questions
Cemeteries and Funeral Homes
What are Senate Bills 512 and 513?
This legislation is an effort to force cemeteries to be regulated
like funeral homes even though the two businesses have very little
in common. These bills are written and sponsored by funeral directors
in an attempt to limit competition on certain merchandise, such
as markers, caskets and vaults.
Are these bills necessary?
No. Currently, cemeteries and funeral homes in Michigan function
under laws and regulations specifically designed to meet their operational
needs and protect the consumer.
What will be the effect if they become
Limited funeral and cemetery merchandise competition and limited
consumer choice. Senate Bills 512 and 513 will effectively stop
the pre-need selling of caskets, vaults and markers through cemeteries
by imposing unjustifiably high trusting regulations. With these
new regulations, merchandise sales are virtually eliminated as a
practical way to generate revenue to offset enormous cemetery operating
costs. The result will be higher prices for all consumers.
Are funeral homes and cemeteries different?
Yes. Both do play an essential role in helping people through very
difficult times, but purpose and time spent at each differs greatly.
Funeral homes are used for short periods of time, usually two (2)
or three (3) days. However, a cemetery is forever and must be managed
and maintained on a daily basis to accommodate families and visitors
of the many thousands of people interred there.
Why is it important to have competition
in the death care industry?
Americans are reluctant to think about death and dying, but death
care is an important, necessary part of our culture and our economy.
And just like every other profession, fair competition is the most
effective way to maximize value by making sure consumers can choose
from a variety of products and services at the best possible prices.
This is particularly critical for an industry that most people choose
to ignore until they absolutely need it.
What government agency watches over
the death care industry?
The Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services (CIS)
monitors cemeteries and funeral homes. State law requires that each
Michigan cemetery demonstrate proper trusting levels by auditing
trust funds every year and submitting a detailed report to CIS.
The funeral home industry is not currently required to submit detailed
annual audit reports. Instead, funeral homes are only required to
provide the state with a limited review report, once every three
How do cemeteries assure that they
will be maintained when they are full?
Michigan law requires that 15 percent of all cemetery property sales
be permanently trusted in a perpetual care fund. Only the interest
may be used to help pay for maintenance costs. This regulation has
served cemeteries and consumers well and probably should apply to
any business selling its services in advance to guarantee that the
consumer receives modern, well-maintained facilities when the need
What is the "loophole" in
the law that funeral director's talk about?
There is no loophole. They refer to different laws that govern funeral
homes and cemeteries, without acknowledging or understanding that
they are separate and distinct businesses.
Why is "pre-need" selling
Pre-need sales allow consumers to make important decisions regarding
their final wishes. By paying for the arrangements in advance the
price is guaranteed and thus provides a considerable savings to
What happens if a funeral home or
cemetery goes out of business?
Typically, a funeral home will transfer pre-need funds to an existing
funeral home and a cemetery will be maintained by its perpetual
care fund. However, to prepare for an event in which a funeral director
or cemetery operator that failed to comply with the law and harmed
a consumer, the Michigan Cemetery Association has proposed the “Michigan
Consumer Funeral Protection Fund.” Cemeteries and funeral
homes will establish the fund by imposing a fee of three dollars
each for every death certificate filed and burial permit accepted.
It will be capped at $3 million and made available to consumers
damaged by non-compliance.
What is “refunding?”
Funeral homes and cemeteries must return funds paid in advance by
a consumer for any pre-planned services or merchandise that has
not yet been delivered.