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TOPIC: Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud?

Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud? 20 Feb 2014 14:34 #882

I would appreciate some feedback, direction, advise for how to handle my current situation with the funeral and burial services of my father. I am trying to determine which agency I should direct my focus to and I found this website. I have a situation where there was fraud/deceit present with a representative of a local funeral home and now a disregard of my concerns by the corporate office of the funeral home (see their response below my initial letter) about my concerns. I have also come to learn that the rights to the local cemetery plot at XXX Cemetery was also immediately owned by me as the next in line based on their family hierarchy of plot ownership upon my father's death. None of the decisions with the funeral home nor with the cemetery were made by me and they knowingly kept me out of the loop as the documentation provides evidence of. The funeral home is taking no responsibility for their actions and claiming they acted in good faith. I am not looking for compensation nor punishment. I am simply looking for accountability for incorrect actions, an apology and the rewritten obituary of which the corporate office seems to be surprisingly rejecting. I would appreciate any feedback, input you have and where you think I should direct my attention to gain what I seek. Names and addresses have been removed.

FUNERAL HOME LETTER

I am unsure where to begin to explain my disappointment, confusion and outrage over how your organization handled my father’s funeral and burial proceedings the week of November 17, 20XX. Let me begin with the facts to provide you some context before I explain why I am writing you. My father, XXX, passed away the morning of November 17, 20XX at XXX Hospital. His final resting place is XXX Cemetery in XXX, NY where the burial was performed on November 22, 20XX. The funeral home that handled the planning, arrangements, the remains, livery, burial and services was XXX Funeral Home in XXX, NY where XXX1 is the Managing Funeral Director. The funeral director assigned to handle all of this was XXX2 out of this same location.

As the only legally and financially responsible person for all of this activity I am confused as to why plans, decisions and financial approval was provided without my consultation or approval. The representatives that were supposedly making decisions without my knowledge as to the content of these decisions are not the issue. They managed the information to their own benefit but never provided me with the whole picture. The issue is that XXX2 (funeral director) allowed for this to happen having full knowledge that the people involved did not have the authority to bind me to the financial decisions that were made nor to any of the decisions that were made around the funeral and burial proceedings. The only correct thing to do would have been to have XXX2 (funeral director) to call me to verify, confirm and receive instruction as to which decisions to make before binding me to them. I strongly disagree with all the decisions that were made and I would have gone an entirely different path with my decisions. Also this process happened so fast that there was clearly an intent to make it nearly impossible for me to be part of the process and I believe XXX2 (funeral director) was very well aware of what was happening.

I have attached the funeral bill to this letter for your review. As you can see the invoice was signed on 11/18/20XX the day after my father passed away. It was signed by both XXX2 (funeral director) and YYY (my father's girlfriend). You will also notice that YYY (father's girlfriend) clearly identifies herself as single which is apparent on this invoice. You will also notice that (6) Certified Copies of Death Certificate were ordered. I am also attaching the Death Certificate for your review. Again as the only legal representative of my father at the moment of his death I am wondering why I only received (1) copy of the Death Certificate. Where did the other (5) copies go? I was not aware that anyone else would have the authority to receive one outside of the only legal heir. Also, if you look to the Death Certificate on item no. 13 you will notice that YYY (father's girlfriend) marked that my father was “Never Married.” The reason I mention both of these items is that I based on all that occurred and how this entire matter was handled there was an “intent to deceive” by both YYY (father's girlfriend) and XXX2 (funeral director).

I find it interesting that the terms “intent to deceive” and “false pretenses” were first used by the United States Marine Corps at their headquarters in Washington, D. C. when I called them about how my situation was handled. My father served in the military and was entitled to Veteran benefits. On November 22. 20XX when the burial ceremony was performed 3 Marines from the USMC local unit were there to perform a traditional Marine ceremony. When the Marines folded the flag and were ready to provide it to the representative of the family they handed it to YYY (father's girlfriend). When I probed the Marines about this they confirmed this was absolutely incorrect and there was an “intent to deceive” and it was performed under “false pretenses.” What I find interesting is that I heard XXX2 (funeral director) very clearly state to the Marine in charge that “this is the wife.” When I explained this to the Marines they were not happy and due to their honorable way of handling these situations used this terminology that I described above. XXX2 (funeral director) who signed the Death Certificate and Funeral invoice explained to the Marines that “this is the wife” which is not only a lie but a very intentional one. There is no denying something I heard with my own ears. I am frustrated by many things here but outraged over this as it demonstrates a clear lack of respect for me and it is dishonorable to the United States Marine Corps and the memory of my father who was a proud Marine.

Before I go down any path of abuse, deceit and fraud I wanted to provide you an opportunity to look into this matter. I am very well aware that you are not informed of the day to day decisions that happen within your organizations unless they are raised to you. I am also well aware that XXX2 (managing funeral director) may also have no knowledge of any of this so I wanted to allow you the opportunity to provide me with the answers I seek before I determine what my next course of action is. The best way I know how to do this is to determine if what I have already stated and if the items below are standard practices within your organization.
• Is it standard practice to have someone who is not the legal representative bind the legal representative?
• Is it standard practice to extend credit for the Funeral invoice to the signer?
• Is it standard practice for the Funeral home to advance the cash for the Cemetery and Death Certificate expenses?
• Is it standard practice for a funeral director to show up to a party in honor of the deceased after the burial where alcohol is served in a bar? This might be normal to me if the circumstances I have already explained hadn’t occurred.
• Is it standard practice for the funeral director to be, in my opinion, inappropriately close to one of my family members while at this party? If they are dating I am unaware of it however you would think they were.
• Is it standard practice to provide the legal representative with (1) copy of the Death Certificate when (6) were ordered?
• Is it standard practice for the only child of my divorced father to be treated as if he was an outsider and kept “out of the loop” on all of the decisions made in regards to my father’s funeral and burial?
• Is it standard practice to place items in the casket of the deceased at the request of someone who is not legally authorized to make that decision before closing the casket?
• Is it standard practice to place the hand of the deceased in the position of the “middle-finger” at the request of someone who not legally authorized to make that decision before closing the casket?
• Is it standard practice to have the U.S. Marines perform a burial ceremony, have the Funeral Director tell the Marines that the girlfriend was the wife, provide the flag to the person who it does not rightfully belong to (according to Marine regulations) and then dishonor my father’s grave?
• Is it standard practice to “dishonor” the memory of a Veteran Marine through the overall actions that the Funeral Director has bound your organization to?

At this time I am not looking for any financial remuneration from XXX Funeral Home. However I am expecting (a) answers, (b) two official apologies; one on behalf of the XXX Funeral Home and another from XXX2 (funeral director) whereby both recognize the injustice that has happened here and condemn how my situation was handled [if you believe my situation was handled inappropriately] and (c) to rewrite the disgraceful Obituary on your website of my father and replace it with my own corrected version. The obituary is a complete disgrace that has been condemned by everyone who has seen it except of course by those who have taken the liberty of inserting themselves into this process to dishonor the memory of my father. For the few people who have commented on it I have another hundred people who consider it a disrespectful, dishonorable and disgraceful sham. I understand you most likely allow for your customers to write whatever they would like but we have the same issue with the obituary. Those who had no legal right nor authority wrote the obituary and I did not approve it and I strongly condemn it.

For your information I have provided the contact information for the Funeral Home and the Cemetery that I have mentioned above.

XXXXXXXX Funeral Home

XXXXXXXX Cemetery

If you have any questions, need further information or would like to discuss anything with me please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I will await your timely and appropriate response.

FUNERAL HOME RESPONSE

We are in receipt of your letter dated February 1, 20XX, in which you express disappointment, confusion and anger over the manner in which your father's final arrangements were handled by the XXX Funeral Home in XXX, New York. We appreciate that you took the time to write and describe your experiences to us.

We strive to make fulfilling the wishes of our families our highest priority. During the time in which your father was in our care, we relied in good faith upon a written statement indicating that YYY (father's girlfriend), who held herself out as your father's domestic partner, was responsible for decisions relating to his final arrangements. Accordingly, XXX2 (funeral director) set forth to carry out the direction she provided to us during the arrangement conference and over the course of the remaining time spent with your family.

We do not believe that there was any intention by our funeral director to make you uncomfortable or cause you additional grief. For you and your loved ones who experienced that disappointment, we are so sorry for any frustration and sadness we may have caused.

XXX Funeral Home appreciates the honor to serve your family and extends our deepest apologies to you.
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Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud? 21 Feb 2014 14:34 #885

Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear about this situation. I need to ask a few questions in order to give you helpful advice:

1. You say that the girlfriend/funeral home "bound" you to pay a bill that you had no say in. How do you mean? They may not charge you for something you did not agree to.

2. Do you mean that you signed the contract that the girlfriend had put together, or no?

3. *If* a person, such as the girlfriend, represented herself as the legally authorized person and the funeral home had no knowledge that she was not, they are entitled to act in good faith on that. Not only is that legal, it's understandable.

But, your letter *seems* to indicate that you think they knew who you were at the time. Can you please clarify?

4. In New York, as in most states, a person may legally authorize anyone they wish to have the sole legal right to carry out their funeral arrangements. This means that if a person makes such an authorization, it's legal, and the "next of kin" do not get to override it. Do you know if your father made out such a designation for his girlfriend?
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Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud? 21 Feb 2014 15:20 #887

Thank you. I'm sorry to pester, but I'm still unclear on a few things:

1. You say you "had to live with the decisions." Do you mean that you paid this bill? If so, did someone tell you you were obligated to pay for it? What I'm trying to get at here is whether you have been hurt financially (I realize emotions are also under consideration).

2. How did it come to be that you were, apparently, at your father's funeral, but you were "unaware" of the decisions the girlfriend made. Understand that I'm not accusing you of anything, but there's information missing here.

3. Did you raise these objections at the time of the funeral? Or, am I missing something?

4. Let's say the girlfriend absolutely was not legally authorized to make these decisions. That does not automatically mean the funeral home is legally or morally at fault for following her directions. I understand that you're telling me you believe they knew this. How do you know that, and at what point in time did *you* as the son, become known to the funeral home? Right at dad's death? Were you there for the arrangements conference?

Thanks.
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Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud? 21 Feb 2014 15:42 #888

No problem, I appreciate your inquiry.

1) Yes I paid the bill to the advisement of my attorney but through the Estate so there is no financial issue here just simply questionable unethical and immoral behavior. The money is not an issue however I would have done everything differently (made different decisions) and was not given that alternative.

2) I am from out of town so I came in two days later and they had made all the decisions the next day, after his death, and signed all the paperwork. I still don't know how they could have done this without my authority. Understand that everything has been done behind my back and I was kept out of the loop and I was advised not to stir the pot when the funeral and burial service happened that same week and I believe it would have been disrespectful to address any wrongdoing at that time since it was a time of mourning. I understand there is quite a bit to the story so I will fill in the gaps so I can help you understand.

3) No, I didn't raise it at the time due to the inappropriateness of raising these issues in the middle of mourning. Everything that was raised was raised later.

4) I understand and that is what I seek clarity on. The arrangements conference happened the next day and I was called at the last minute before they left to ask me a question. I was unaware of this whole proceeding until it was done and I was getting ready to travel to NY when I was called. I told them when I would be in town to help with the arrangements but they decided to do it before I got there. They knew I was the son at the arrangements but before that I am not sure.

My goal is to obtain the proper advice here and see if the agencies that are connected to this industry can be of some help otherwise the only recourse is the legal route but I want to avoid that if there is a better way.

Thanks
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Funeral Home Deceit and/or Fraud? 21 Feb 2014 15:47 #889

Thank you for the clarification. Clearly, it was messy and poorly handled. I agree with you that the short letter from the funeral home is not a sufficient response to your original complaint letter.

It seems to me the funeral home owes you a more specific response to your detailed points, and you have a right to insist on that. If you like, I can call the funeral home and/or its owner next week and jog them on this. Incidentally, I used this very funeral home when my friend died three years ago, and the company owner knows who I am in a professional capacity.

If this sounds agreeable to you, please give me a call at my office next week. 802-865-8300.
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