From: "Clifford L. Hornsby Jr." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Jun 17, 1999 10:25 PM
Subject: Comments on Funeral Rule
Why is the FTC Funeral Rule subservient to State laws governing funerals? Generally , federal laws and rules are superior to state and local laws, except for the Funeral Rule.
After the 1994 rule that prohibited a third party handling fee on caskets , the Georgia Legislator passed a midnight law , introduced by Independent funeral directors , making it a crime for anyone other than a licensed funeral director in a licensed funeral home to sell a casket. Because of the Georgia law , the RULE did not help any consumers. In 1999 a Federal Judge issued a TRO against that law.
In Tennessee , funeral directors , have passed laws prohibiting the sell of Vaults by anyone other that a funeral home.
It seems to me the problem is in state laws restricting trade. Funeral homes should be required to freeze the prices on PREARRANGED FUNERALS . This week a gentleman was in to purchase a cemetery space for his mother who had died. He thought he had prearranged her funeral ten years ago , but what he had done was make a wish list at the funeral home and was then told to buy a bank certificate of deposit , he was told that the interest on the CD would keep up with inflation. He was approximately $2,000.00 short of the actual cost of the funeral. To make matters worst , when he went to cash in the CD , it was in his mothers name and was told by the bank , that he would have to wait on the death certificates and the will to be probated.
If he had been dealt with honestly, the money would have been in a trust or insurance instrument, but that would void the old theory of have them buy when they die.
Funeral homes should be allowed to give pre-need discounts. this would allow consumers a chance to price shop and save money. By requiring a one level pricing system for at-need and pre-need the FTC is not doing any favors for the consumer.
There should be rules to protect the consumer , third party holder of funds for services, audits by regulators and elimination of the MONOPOLY LAWS . most created by the LOCAL funeral directors that have eliminated competition. As you are aware ,the local funeral boards can deny or revoke a funeral home license and if anyone gets out of line with there prices or attitudes, they will enforce all the rules and regulations on that funeral home.
The funeral boards look the other way about some laws , for instance, in Georgia a funeral director may lose his license if he aids , promotes , or in any way helps a memorial or burial society , but there are active societies in the state and I haven't heard of any discipline. (Maybe the laws been changed?)
Do cemeteries need to be under the rule ? The answer is NO. They may need to be audited by state authority for there perpetual care and merchandise funds, but they don't need to be under the rule. Because cemeteries have the right to sell with pre-need discounts, openly educate consumers and solicit new clients, the consumer has more opportunity to hear the message about the benefits of advance planning. Again in Georgia you can't even bring up the word Funeral unless ask by the consumer and there is no direct soliciting , even for healthy pre-needs.
L. Hornsby , Jr.