11/23/2009 — Kudos to the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association for their work tightening protections consumers enjoy when prepaying for cemetery services. They succesfully pushed for a bill that would require cemeteries to deposit 100 percent of any money a consumer spends on cemetery services, such as opening/closing the grave, or the crematory fee. Consumers may also transfer that money to a new cemetery if they change their minds or move. NOTE - if you prepay for a grave or niche, the cemetery does not have to refund your money if you change your mind.
From a press release by NJSFDA:
On Friday, Nov. 20, Governor Jon Corzine signed into law NJSFDAsupported legislation that reinstates the requirement that cemeteriestrust 100% of cemetery services sold preneed, including grave openings and crematory fees. Like advance funeral payments, these moneys will now be revocable, refundable, portable and protected under the requirements of New Jersey's master trusting statute (N.J.S.A.2A:102-13). This requirement is separate and distinct from the obligations cemeteries have for deposits into maintenance and preservation fund accounts for the sale of lots, graves, crypts and niches, or for escrow accounts related to preconstruction sales.
According to NJSFDA Executive Director Wilson H. Beebe Jr., "this provision ensures the maintenance of a prepaid funeral market that is credible, reliable and committed to the public interest."
Sponsored in the Assembly by legislators Vincent Prieto, Caridad Rodriquez, Elease Evans, Thomas Giblin and Upendra Chivukula, and in the Senate by senators Fred Madden, Steven Oroho and Loretta Weinberg,the legislation reverses an interpretive determination made 12 years ago by the New Jersey Cemetery Board that cemeteries were no longer subject to the 100% trusting requirements.