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While it's not enough to truly protect consumers from problems with prepaid funerals, Mississippi's House Bill 1046 is a good first step. The bill was signed into law, and it requires funeral homes to deposit 85 percent of consumers' prepaid funeral money into a trust account --- up from 50 percent, which was the lowest requirement in the country.
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 984 would have give consumers the right to determine how their bodies will be disposed of after death, and the right to name an agent to make sure their wishes are carried out. For more information. But as of May, 2006, the bill had never made it out of committee.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 11:05 )
Note: the story below gives an overview. Readers who want details on the laws discussed should see Funeral Consumers Alliance's opposition letter sent to Kentucky legislators, and our analysis of the bill .
Frankfort, Kentucky, January, 2006 --- Faced with stiff competition from innovative, lower-cost funeral services that offer low prices by economizing on overhead, entrenched "traditional" Kentucky funeral homes are trying to abuse the law to protect their pocketbooks. House Bill 232, which looks to have been written by the state funeral directors' Board (made up of four funeral directors and one "public" representative, whose wife works part-time at a funeral home!) and the the Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky, would:
- Take away Kentucky citizens' rights to care for their own dead by giving the state funeral board control over every aspect of funerals, even private family or religious services
- Take away the right of religious congregations to care for their members in a traditional way without the interference of the commercial funeral industry
- Outlaw innovative, lower-cost funeral establishments that keep prices moderate by economizing on overhead
- Give established, high-overhead funeral homes a virtual monopoly on the funeral business
- Insulate funeral homes from competition, thereby keeping prices high and consumers captive
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 16:28 )
Wisconsin Funeral Trade Groups Back Bill to Restrict Low-cost Competition
UPDATE 10/18/05 — Rep. Phil Montgomery's office announced last week that AB 485 was "dead," but Rep. Karl Van Roy, a co-sponsor and the chairman of the small business committee, brought the bill to a vote in amended form on October 17, 2005. The amended bill took out two of the most objectionable provisions — the ban on "strip-mall" funeral homes and the requirement to provide seating for 50 at all funeral homes — but still prohibits medical institutions, churches, synagogues, or "creed"- based groups from operating a funeral home. It will be interesting to see if this stands constitutional muster.
- protection - n. supervision or support of one that is smaller or weaker
- protectionism - n. . . . government economic protection for domestic producers through restrictions on foreign competitors
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:31 )
The Missouri Attorney General has filed charges against seven monument companies and funeral homes, alleging the businesses took $800,000 from 500 citizens for goods and services never delivered. Just another reason to think twice about paying for your funeral before you're dead!
From the Kansas City Star, August 19, 2005 Missouri Headstone, Funeral Providers Sued
, The Kansas City Star
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon has taken civil and criminal actions against seven merchants who sold cemetery headstones or pre-need funeral plans to consumers.
The charges, filed in circuit courts across the state, allege that about 500 Missourians paid more than $800,000 for services they didn’t get or that were less than promised.
Nixon filed four cases against monument companies, including one in Clay County, for headstones that weren’t delivered.
Nixon filed 10 felony counts of unlawful merchandising practices against Larry Keith Lawhon, who operates LL Monument Co. in Smithville. The charges in Clay County Circuit Court allege Lawhon’s business did not deliver headstones or provide refunds to consumers who paid thousands of dollars.
Neither Lawhon nor an official for his business were available for comment today. Nixon also filed civil charges against Heartland Monument Co. in Springfield and Jeffrey W. Thomure, of Manchester, who operates Standard Monument Co.
Nixon is seeking a civil injunction against Mike Graham and Associates, which operates Memorial Park Cemetery and Garden of Memories in Sikeston, Forest Hill Memorial Gardens in Morley, and Ozark Memorial Cemetery in Rolla. Nixon wants the company to refund $260,000 to more than 100 consumers.
Nixon filed three cases against pre-need funeral-plan companies — a $1.6 billion industry in Missouri.
“Consumers purchase pre-need funeral plans to have the assurance that these arrangements are paid for and taken care of ahead of time,” Nixon said.
He said in many cases payments were not put in required trust accounts, “but instead were diverted for other uses, leaving shortfalls to pay for the funerals when they are needed.”
Nixon criminally charged Jane Spencer Turner, who operates Spencer Funeral Homes in Salem and Bunker, and Donald E. Holt who operates Holt Funeral Home in Vandalia.
He filed a civil lawsuit against Eddie Swarnes of Swarnes Funeral Home in St. Louis.
To reach Paul Wenske, consumer affairs writer, call (816) 234-4454 or send e-mail to
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