An important announcement from ICCFA In Response to the 60 Minutes Segment

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 law?
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 (3) years.

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 arises.

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 important?
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 the consumer.

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.