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The Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors Needs a Shorter leash

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-Josh Slocum, Executive Director 

—Restoring Families' Right to Choose-a policy paper for lawmakers and consumers
—Dead Bodies and Disease: The Danger That Does Not Exist
—Hall of Shame: Pennsylvania Targets Grieving Daughter
—Circling the Hearses: the nationwide problem of corrupted regulatory boards

finalrightscoverfinalrightscoverFinal Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.

A manual of funeral law for consumers.

Pennsylvania's state funeral regulatory board is out of control and needs to be reined in. Fresh from a defeat in federal court in which a judge tossed out 11 provisions of law for being anti-competitive, the board now faces a suit from a rabbi it has been harassing with threats of legal prosecution for performing traditional, undertaker-free Jewish funerals. Daniel E. Wasserman is suing the board on constitutional grounds; the regulatory board thinks it has the authority to bar Wasserman and his congregation from performing traditional Jewish funerals themselves. No, says the state—that would be practicing funeral service without a license. Never mind that Wasserman's chevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) charges no fees to grieving families for this traditional religious service.

This use of the Commonwealth's police powers under the pretext of "protecting health and safety" to restrain organized clergy for the benefit of professional funeral director licensees who seek only to profit is as shocking as it is unconstitutional. Even more shocking is the selective enforcement of [Pennsylvania commercial funeral law] against an Orthododox Jewish clergyman while the State Board knowingly allows the same or similar practices by persons of other faiths in instances where no profit can be expected by its licensees.—Wasserman v Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the US District Court, Middle District, Pennsylvania.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 June 2013 10:41 ) Read more...

Family Conversations About End-Of-Life Care

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NPR: The Diane Rehm Show
August 8, 2012

Talking about death and dying is never easy. Many of us cling to the childhood belief that parents are invincible. But avoiding an end-of life conversation with a loved one could have tragic consequences. It might mean a surrogate who has different values from your mother could end up making decisions for her. Or that your uncle won't qualify for Medicaid because he didn’t understand the process. Armed with basic facts and good listening skills, it's possible to create a strategy that gives a loved one comfort and provides caregivers with peace of mind. Diane and her guests explore how to begin discussions about end-of life care.


Janis Abrahms Spring -  clinical psychologist and author of "Life with Pop: Lessons on Caring for an Aging Parent" and "After the Affair."

Sue Belanger -  clinical ethicist and adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, and director of education, training and research at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Charles Sabatino -  director of the Commission on Law and Aging, American Bar Association.


Listen to the program audio (51:40) at NPR: The Diane Rehm Show


Rabbi sues over Pennsylvania law on funeral directors, last rites

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 7, 2012

An Orthodox rabbi is suing the state board of funeral directors, accusing it of violating religious freedom by insisting that licensed funeral directors oversee all funerals and burials.

The suit from Rabbi Daniel Wasserman of Shaare Torah Synagogue in Squirrel Hill was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, in Scranton. It accuses the state board of intimidating rabbis, synagogues, Jewish families and funeral homes that work with rabbis, in a quest for profit.

The suit is "to preserve and restore the historical right of clergy to conduct religious burial and funeral rites free from interference and harassment by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professional, secular funeral directors who serve no health or safety interest," the suit says, citing constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion.

Rabbi Wasserman "is now being threatened with civil action and criminal prosecution ... for conducting religious funerals in place of licensed funeral directors who, under color of state law, interfere in purely religious observances for no other justification than personal profit."

The suit alleges that the board has targeted Orthodox Jews rather than Amish or Quakers because Jews are perceived to have more money to spend on funerals.

Read the full article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Thanks to The Good Funeral Guide Blog for alerting us to this article.


When tickety-boo = tangled web (The Good Funeral Guide Blog 8/8/2012)


Death Certificates?…Just how many do I need?

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The Funeral Guy
From Inside The Box
July 5, 2012

One of the many questions I get when doing a pre-planning session is “How many death certificates do I need and who needs them?”  Since every person’s estate can vary, I have created a list to help you answer that question.

Read the full article at The Funeral Guy

Last Updated ( Monday, 06 August 2012 20:08 )

Funeral Home Director Now Faces Criminal Charges

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FOX 4 News
Kansas City MO
July 30, 2012

The Missouri Attorney General is filing criminal charges against a former funeral home director in a story that FOX 4 news first started investigating two years ago.

Ron Marts is now facing ten felony charges including theft, deceptive business practices, and violating state laws about pre-need contracts. Pre-need contracts are for people who want to pre-pay for a funeral. People do it for peace of mind, but according to the Attorney General’s investigation, Marts wasn’t even licensed to sell pre-need contracts and now it appears that the money is gone.

Read the full article at FOX 4 News

Thanks to the HVCC Mortuary Science Alumni & Student Assoc for alerting us to this article.


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