Legislative Issues

California Law Requires Disclosure to Consumers of Pre-paid Funeral/Cemetery Arrangements

California Business & Professions Code Section 7685.6, which took effect on July 1, 2002, provides that a funeral establishment, prior to drafting any contract for funeral goods or services, shall present to the person who is handling the funeral arrangements a written statement disclosing whether or not the funeral establishment has any pre-need agreement relating to the deceased. Section 9661 of the same Code provides the same requirement for cemetery operators. Violation by a cemetery operator can lead to a fine equal to three times the cost of the preneed agreement, or $1000, whichever is greater.

One LAFS member had an extended discussion with a cemetery operator about interment arrangements for his parent, without the cemetery once disclosing the fact that the burial plot in question had been pre-purchased more than 15 years before: “From the context of the discussion, I felt that if I had not brought the prepayment up, they would have charged us again for the plot.”

The law requires such disclosure only where the funeral or cemetery director has a pre-paid arrangement on file. Representatives of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of California visited Sacramento four times in 2002 to urge the legislature to extend this requirement to pre-need arrangements which are not prepaid. Without this change, there is a risk that survivors of funeral society members may pay inflated funeral costs where a funeral director (willfully or accidentally) fails to inform them of the decedent’s pre-need arrangements. Members can protect their families by informing them clearly about their pre-need arrangements.

Cemetery Inspections

Senate Bill 17, signed into law by the Governor of California on September 23, 2002, requires that all cemeteries which are regulated by the State (some are not) be supervised by a manager who has passed the Bureau’s written exam, and provides that, after June 2003, the Bureau must perform at least one unannounced inspection of each regulated cemetery annually.

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