Cemetery Consumer’s Bill of Rights 2012 (Support)

Although the Funeral Rule of the Federal Trade Commission requires that important funeral

consumer rights be included in the General Price List offered in any face-to-face meeting of funeral

director and consumer at the beginning of any discussion about arranging a funeral, there is no

comparable federal or state requirement for disclosure by cemeteries.

Because the public lacks knowledge about funeral and cemetery issues, families need greater

protection in the purchase of cemetery and crematory services than New York State law currently

provides. Families often must negotiate with cemeteries while suffering emotionally and feeling

pressure to act quickly. Furthermore, a right to interment may not be used for many years after

purchase and may even pass to another generation in a family before it is used, making it even more

likely that the family will not understand its rights. As in the case of insurance and banking,

government must take an active role in protecting customers in the deathcare industry.

The current law merely requires “posting” of rules and regulations and attachment of a copy to a

contract at the time of a sale of interment rights. Families may not understand that the cemetery can

refuse interment for nonpayment of the total bill, which may amount to thousands of dollars. Many

families do not even understand that they purchase a right to burial rather than a piece of land.

Similarly, they do not understand their rights when they wish to transfer or sell their right to

interment, nor do they understand other important matters; such as that New York law does not

limit the number of urns per grave, nor does the law require embalming or sealer caskets for

mausoleum interment.

By amending the not-for-profit corporation law to require cemetery corporations to provide

customers with a Cemetery Customer’s Bill of Rights, A04219 (Weisenberg) and S4399

(Flanagan) would make important information easily available to families when they need it the

most, at the time of purchase of interment rights and at the time they inter a family member.