Requires cemetery corporations to provide customers with a bill of rights.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the not-for-profit corporation law, in relation to a cemetery customer's bill of rights
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to require the conspicuous posting and distribution of a cemetery customer's bill of rights.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1510 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law is amended by adding a new paragraph, which requires the posting and distribution of the cemetery customer's bill of rights.
JUSTIFICATION: Death touches every New York family. Death care is one of the largest expenses forced upon families. Purchasing interment rights whether for burial, entombment in a mausoleum crypt or placement of cremains in a columbarium niche typically costs thousands of dollars. Added to this is the cost of a funeral, opening and closing the grave and the cost of purchasing and placing a marker or monument.
Additionally, at the time that important decisions are being made for a dying or dead family member the survivors are under emotional distress and are pressured to act quickly, forcing them to make expensive, but perhaps, unwise decisions. The very nature of death care issues and the vulnerability of a captive consumer make the death care industry similar to the insurance and banking industries in the need for close government regulation. The general public is poorly informed about cemetery issues.
Although the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule requires that important funeral consumer rights be included in a funeral home's General Price List (GPL), which is to be offered in any face-to-face meeting of funeral director and customer at the beginning of any discussion about arranging a funeral, there is no comparable federal requirement for disclosure by cemeteries. Disclosure is left to the states. Although New York has a requirement for a document similar to the GPL for funeral homes, no comparable document exists for cemeteries. The combination of uneducated cemetery personnel and an uninformed public puts the customer at risk Families are in the unenviable position of having to rely on the knowledge and honesty of cemetery sales personnel.
A simple one-page Cemetery Consumer's Bill of Rights posted in the cemetery corporation's office and given to every potential customer and to anyone who wants a copy will quickly educate and empower the cemetery customer, by providing information about very important rights when the customer most needs it, that is when considering the purchase or exercise of interment rights.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2007-08: S.5492 Corporations, Authorities and Commissions/A.7177 Passed Assembly 2009-10: Corporations, Authorities & Commissions
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4399 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 4, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. FLANAGAN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions AN ACT to amend the not-for-profit corporation law, in relation to a cemetery customer's bill of rights THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 1510 of the not-for-profit corporation law is amended by adding a new paragraph (n) to read as follows: (N) POSTING AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE CEMETERY CUSTOMER'S BILL OF RIGHTS. (1) THE CEMETERY CUSTOMER'S BILL OF RIGHTS SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS- LY POSTED BY THE CORPORATION IN EACH OF ITS OFFICES. A COPY SHALL BE PROVIDED TO EACH PERSON AT THE BEGINNING OF ANY FACE-TO-FACE DISCUSSION ABOUT ARRANGING FOR AN INTERMENT OR PURCHASING INTERMENT RIGHTS OR ANY OTHER GOODS OR SERVICES OFFERED BY THE CEMETERY. ADDITIONALLY, A COPY OF SUCH BILL OF RIGHTS SHALL BE GIVEN TO ANY PERSON UPON REQUEST. (2) THE CEMETERY CUSTOMER'S BILL OF RIGHTS SHALL BE ESSENTIALLY IN THE FOLLOWING FORM. CEMETERY CUSTOMER'S BILL OF RIGHTS ALL NEW YORK CEMETERIES ARE NOT-FOR-PROFIT. THIS CEMETERY (NAME, ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER) IS REGULATED BY THE NYS DIVISION OF CEME- TERIES. THE NEAREST OFFICE IS LOCATED AT: (ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER, E-MAIL ADDRESS). WHEN YOU BUY CEMETERY PROPERTY, YOU ARE BUYING THE RIGHT TO INTERMENT, NOT AN ACTUAL PIECE OF LAND. WHEN YOU SELL CEMETERY PROPERTY, IT MUST FIRST BE OFFERED BACK TO THE CEMETERY. THE MINIMUM PRICE THE CEMETERY MUST PAY TO BUY BACK THE PROPERTY IS SET BY LAW. YOU CAN ALSO GIFT YOUR RIGHT TO INTERMENT IF YOU ARE THE LOT OWNER. YOU CAN BE DENIED THE RIGHT TO INTERMENT ONLY FOR NON-PAYMENT OF THE TOTAL PURCHASE PRICE, NON-PAYMENT OF INTERMENT PRICE OR NON-PAYMENT OF A TAX AUTHORIZED BY THE CEMETERY BOARD.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD04097-01-1 S. 4399 2
THOUGH NEW YORK LAW DOES REQUIRE THAT A CONTAINER OR WRAPPINGS USED FOR CREMATION BE NON-METAL, IT DOES NOT REQUIRE EMBALMING FOR INTERMENT (BURIAL, ENTOMBMENT OR PLACEMENT OF CREMAINS IN A NICHE OR GRAVE). NEW YORK LAW DOES NOT LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CREMATION URNS THAT CAN BE PLACED IN A GRAVE. NEW YORK LAW ALSO DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY PARTICULAR TYPE OF CASKET OR EXTERNAL WRAPPINGS FOR BURIAL OR PLACEMENT IN A MAUSOLEUM CRYPT. NOR DOES IT RESTRICT THE TYPE OF CONTAINER USED TO PLACE ASHES IN A NICHE OR GRAVE. NEW YORK LAW REQUIRES THAT RULES AND REGULATIONS OF A CEMETERY BE REASONABLE AND THAT THEY HAVE WRITTEN CEMETERY BOARD APPROVAL. NEW YORK LAW REQUIRES THAT A WRITTEN CONTRACT FOR THE SALE OR USE OF A LOT, PLOT OR PART THEREOF SHALL HAVE ATTACHED THERETO AND MADE A PART THEREOF A COPY OF THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE CEMETERY CORPORATION OR SUCH PARTS OF SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS RELATE TO THE SIZE AND PLACEMENT OF MONUMENTS, RESTRICTIONS ON PLOT USAGE, WARRANTIES, OBLIGATIONS OF THE CEMETERY CORPORATION AND FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AND DUTIES OF THE LOT OWNER. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT: 1. TO A COPY OF THE CURRENT LIST OF PRICES AND CHARGES OF THE CEMETERY FOR A SMALL FEE. 2. TO HAVE INCLUDED IN YOUR PURCHASE CONTRACT AND DEED ANY CEMETERY BOARD APPROVED RESTRICTIONS ON THE TYPE OF CONTAINER USED FOR BURIAL OR PLACEMENT OF ASHES IN A NICHE OR GRAVE. 3. TO HAVE INCLUDED IN YOUR PURCHASE CONTRACT AND DEED ANY CEMETERY BOARD APPROVED REQUIREMENTS FOR MAUSOLEUM CRYPT ENTOMBMENT SUCH AS EMBALMING, SPECIAL CASKETS OR IN-CRYPT BAGS OR TRAYS. 4. TO HAVE INCLUDED IN YOUR PURCHASE CONTRACT AND DEED ANY CEMETERY BOARD APPROVED RESTRICTIONS ON THE TYPE OF MONUMENT OR MARKER THAT CAN BE PLACED ON THE GRAVE, NICHE OR MAUSOLEUM CRYPT. 5. TO BE NOTIFIED OF ANY RULES, RESTRICTIONS OR CHARGES THAT APPLY TO MARKERS OR MONUMENTS PURCHASED ELSEWHERE. 6. TO FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT "PERPETUAL CARE" MEANS INCLUDING WHETHER IT IS REQUIRED OR OPTIONAL. 7. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE ALL CONTRACTS INCLUDING PURCHASE AND PERPETUAL CARE CONTRACTS REVIEWED BY A LAWYER BEFORE SIGNING. 8. TO CHOOSE A CONCRETE LINER, IF AN OUTER BURIAL CONTAINER IS REQUIRED FOR BURIAL IN A GRAVE PURCHASED AFTER 1/1/85. THIS REQUIREMENT MUST BE WAIVED FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. 9. TO HAVE MONEY PAID FOR A GRAVE LINER PRE-NEED HELD IN TRUST. 10. TO BE NOTIFIED OF ANY RESTRICTIONS AND CHARGES RELATIVE TO PLANT- INGS. S 2. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.