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Yet another undertakers' trade association is trying to take away families' rights and outlaw lower-cost cremations.

The Divine Right of Undertakers?

UPDATE --- 2/6/07 --- Thanks to pressure from citizens and consumer groups, the Montana Judiciary Committee tabled HB 323 (that's a euphemism for "Dead On Arrival"). Citizens and small crematory operators dodged a bullet, but if we hadn't been vigilant, the results would have been disastrous. Let's hope the funeral industry lobbyists think twice before trying to snatch away our rights to free choice and low-cost funerals.

1/30/2007 --- Another state is dancing to the tune of a funeral director's association, trying to shut down a low-cost crematorium that serves the public at moderate prices because the entrenched funeral directors don't like the competition. This time it's Montana. Though we're glad there are some recent amendments proposed to House Bill 323 that would exempt families and clergy from the onerous requirement to be licensed as a mortician in order to conduct their own funerals and memorial services, the amendments don't go nearly far enough. They'd still, in essence, outlaw low-cost crematoriums from doing business with the public, ensuring that overpriced funeral homes have an artificial lock on the market and a license to pick families' pockets. Even worse, the sponsor of this bill will not answer Funeral Consumers Alliance's queries. Instead, he's sending our concerns quietly to the Montana Funeral Directors Association - the very trade group who proposed the bill we're objecting to!

In summary, Montana's House Bill 323:
  • Sets up a convoluted scheme to determine who has the right to make disposition arrangements and forces consumers to prepay a funeral home in exchange for the right to control their own future funerals. Twenty-nine other states have abandoned this model in favor of sensible rules.
  • Conflicts with current regulations allowing consumers and their representatives to change prepaid funeral plans if circumstances change.
  • Makes it illegal for families to care for their own dead at home, privately, and gives funeral businesses a legal right to the custody of a family's dead loved ones.
  • Will put emerging low-cost funeral homes and free-standing crematoria out of business by making it illegal for them to remove dead bodies or perform other activities necessary to conduct their business and serve the public.
  • Flatly contradicts citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech by making it illegal to communicate about anything to do with funeral or memorial services unless one holds a mortician's license.
  • Would make it illegal for clergy or family members to organize or preside over funeral ceremonies or memorial services without a license.
  • Gives the Montana Board of Funeral Service dominion over the private activities of citizens and clergy far exceeding the authority granted regulatory boards by Montana statute.
Tomorrow, January 31, 2007, the House Judiciary Committe hears this bill. Funeral Consumers Alliance has sent letters opposing the bill to each member of the committee, and we hope they'll listen to consumer concerns. Attached below find:
  • FCA summary opposing HB 323.
  • FCA line-by-line critique of the bill and what it would do to funeral prices and families' rights.
So, What Can You Do?
  • Write/fax/email your Montana lawmakers to let them know you protest this bill. Find them here.
  • Make sure you send a copy of your letter to our affiliate, the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Download this file (hb323critique.pdf)hb323critique.pdf[FCA line-by-line critique of the bill]193 Kbm/j/Y
Download this file (hb323summary.pdf)hb323summary.pdf[FCA summary opposing HB 323]83 Kbm/j/Y
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 13:11 )  
Comments (6)
1 Sunday, 20 September 2009 20:18
B Strand
I, and friends were excited about an article in the Missoula Independent about an eco-friendly cemetery. We were all worried that we would have no choice, after trying to live earth friendly, but to turn our bodies over to large companies with phony/profit motivated sympathy, to encourage us to waste dollars, energy, and materials, put poisons into our bodies, for a "decent"/legal burial. There must be many more with the same worries.
I've helped at a friend's Fathers Funeral Home, have a small shop and woodworking skills, artistic abilities,..., and I even had to properly prepare my own father for services, cutting his hair, shaving, makeup,..., after the funeral home charged us thousands for such non-services. I've also worked in a Catholic Hospital that left the deceased patients dentures in the sink, heads low to collect blood, mouth open,.....
I would love to start some sort of business, be it Custom Montana Made Caskets, or helping families care, clean, dress,... loved ones with dignity and love. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Time is right to start a business given this economy and the costs family's shouldn't incur for basic dignity. Motivation is here, but business and legal matters are scary.
2 Monday, 01 November 2010 15:47
Caskets and More a Discount Store
I am doing something about this! Read the above comments and can relate. I have opened last week a retail, discount caskets, urns, pre-planning, education about consumer rights. I'm at 926 Main St. #2 Billings, MT 59105 I'm Janet Brunsvold, RN My e-mail is My web is I welcome news from you all. I can help you with your questions. Thanks for reading. Sincerely, Janet
3 Monday, 07 March 2011 17:18
Caskets and More a Discount Store
I have learned alot about how the death care business can be. I work closely with a like-minded funeral director. Even the pet death business has issues with trying to grab the corner of the market. I have enjoyed exposing the prices and information on all the regional funeral homes, pet crematoriums, and even the monument companies that are gouging the public at their most vulnerable time, during grieving. Janet
4 Wednesday, 18 December 2013 18:18
John Hart
I have watched the funeral industry and the brew ha ha that has gone on since the beginning of time regarding those rotten (*&^%$ Funeral Directors, undertakers, morticians ~ whatever they are. . .

They go to school and learn how to preserve a body; work with every culture the sun; work on Christmas, Easter and most weekends;[EXTENDED PERSONAL WHINING AND CHARACTER SLURS REDACTED-ed.]
5 Thursday, 19 December 2013 12:30
Josh Slocum, FCA
Mr. Hart,

Come back and comment when you can do so without unhinged ranting. Please spare us the surfeit of punctuation and character aspersions.
6 Tuesday, 18 February 2014 19:35
stop ripping the funeral industry. i know many stand up, hardworking, and dedicated professionals in the funeral industry. your thinking can also be said for medicine, dentistry, accounting, nursing, hospital services, almost any business. funerals are rooted in tradition. tradition is not a bad thing. funerals give closure. time for family to pull together, time for friends/neighbors to show respect for a life. death is very ugly. morticians make the deceased look better. at least in my experience. funeral homes and staff are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. u think u could do that!!!!! i doubt you could....dont knock the industry just based on what you think you know. like any small business. families have dedicated their lives to their profession so earning a profit is the american way....

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