Header Image 
In This Issue
Burial Rights: Title to WHAT?
Renew your membership!
Hurricane Sandy and the Green-Wood Cemetery
Spotlight: R.J. Moylan
10 Tips to build relationships with families that love pets
Greening the Funeral Industry: Environmental Attitudes
Dave Hepburn assumes the helm
FTC staff issues important opinion
Assorted Useful Links
Suppliers: Interested in advertising?
Bulletin Board

Vol. II, Issue III





About this articleFrom Washington State law; "RCW 68.32.010 Presumption as to title. All plots or rights of interment conveyed to individuals are presumed to be the sole and separate property rights of the owner named in the instrument of conveyance."


So just what is a "title"? Anyone managing a cemetery in this state sooner or later, generally sooner, finds one's self being asked the question. Good question. And, consider this statement, "I have in my hands this cemetery deed and want to use one of the graves." When asked whose name might be on it the response often is "well I am holding the title now and possession is everything ... isn't it?" No, it's not! In future articles we will cover "descent of title" and other title changes that may properly occur.


Ask an attorney about cemetery deeds and title and you may very well get different answers, all well-meaning of course, and all based on a wrong set of knowledge regarding title to burial rights. It is interesting how many attorneys this writer has encountered who are not even aware of the cemetery law found in Title 68. By training they seem to lean toward real estate law. Real estate law has no bearing upon cemetery graves, rights of burial and descent of title in our state.  


So just what is "title"? Title, in the case of cemeteries, conveys the right of use of cemetery property - not ownership in real estate or real property - simply the right to use cemetery property. The actual property (the dirt if you will) remains in the hands of the cemetery authority issuing a right to use. While visiting the ICCFA annual convention in Tampa I mentioned to my wife LaDonna that we have "the right to use" the hotel room we were paying for, but we don't own the room or the hotel. LaDonna works with recording issues concerning cemetery graves at Evergreen-Washelli in Seattle.


"We lost our title and want a new one." Hold the phone! It's been learned the hard way: NEVER, NEVER issue a new title once you have issued the original. Stories of why you shouldn't are long and never-ending, i.e. divorce, dispute, sold to a second party then a change of mind, POA thinks they should control, and so on. Try this for size: Order a rubber stamp with large outlined letters stating the following: "DUPLICATE COPY", then just underneath in smaller letters "ORIGINAL SUPERSEDES ALL DUPLICATES." Stamp this message (in red ink) right across the face of any "duplicate" issued.


When a family wishes to convey their burial rights to another party, they should use a standard cemetery quit claim deed (found on line or in stationary stores) conveying to the receiving party their interests. You should not have the family convey the burial rights back to your cemetery, issuing a new deed from your cemetery to the new purchaser. There is much danger in re-conveyances for cemeteries, i.e. divorce, remarriage, pre-paid goods and services, or other family member disputes undisclosed to your cemetery. The new buying party's future legal issues, if any dispute arises, will be with the conveyor not your cemetery. (Yes, you most likely would also be named in such a suit, but your defense is that you did not convey the disputed property ... you simply recorded the conveyance). Follow the suggested guideline offered in the foregoing paragraph ... convey original title once and once only.


Batesville NEW 12-2012   Back in the late 1960's, upon entering the cemetery arena, I noticed right away that in the "days of old" many cemeteries were issuing "warrantee deeds," some even with tax stamps upon them. One had to read carefully every word contained therein to determine what was really conveyed; it wasn't dirt. My mother would comment on how "this grave is the last piece of land I will ever own." She commented on such as she stood on what would be her final resting place enjoying a view of the Cascades. Sorry Mom, you will just be using land owned by this cemetery.


Today's cemetery operators would be wise to issue "certificates of burial rights", not "deeds." Personally I would recommend simple straight-forward language as to what one actually owns. Stay away from so-called "attorney talk" but instead use positive expressions. Compare the following differences: "The property referenced herein as set forth by the seller consists of and is limited to the right of burial for each joint tenant named hereupon at the time of use." (Writer trying to sound like an attorney) Compare the foregoing to: "The right to be buried in the described property belongs to the person(s) named above." (Writer trying to sound modern).


Washington State law refers to "rights of interment" in RCW 68.24.110, Sale of plots or rights of interment. After filing the map or plat and recording the declaration of dedication, a cemetery authority may sell and convey plots or rights of interment subject to the rules in effect or thereafter adopted by the cemetery authority. Plots or rights of interment may be subject to other limitations, conditions, and restrictions as may be part of the declaration of dedication by reference, or included in the instrument of conveyance of the plot or rights of interment.


You should reference your cemetery's rules and regulations when issuing a certificate of burial rights. "Rights of interment at ABC Cemetery are controlled by the rules and regulations now in place or as may be amended from time-to-time by ABC Cemetery. RCW 68.20.061 Specific powers - Control of property, gives your cemetery such authority; "It may restrict and limit the use of all property within its cemetery, including interment rights."


When issuing "Rights of Interment" the certificate of conveyance should be signed by an officer of the cemetery authority: RCW 68.24.115 Execution of conveyances. All conveyances made by a cemetery authority shall be signed by such officer or officers as are authorized by the cemetery authority.


In the next month's article we will review "vested rights of spouse or registered domestic partner." 

Premier New Jan-13


Have you renewed your WCCFA membership for 2013?


Renewal forms were mailed at the end of Decemer, and reminders went out recently. However, if you can't find your form but know you need to renew, click on the appropriate link below. 


VOTING member: cemetery, funeral home, municipal/cemetery district

VOTING COMBINATON cemetery/funeral home member

NON-VOTING municipal or cemetery district



"A Good Goodbye" introduces a funeral planning TV show


Albuquerque, NM - Funeral planning television is coming to a screen near you. A Good Goodbye TV, an educational and entertaining 12-episode series of 30-minute programs, will present expert interviews on "everything you need to know before you go."

Gail Rubin
Gail Rubin: The Doyenne of Death


Host Gail Rubin brings a light touch to a serious subject. Like her award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die, the television program will cover information most people don't know about until faced with a death in the family.


"Talking about death and funeral planning issues on television enables individuals to discuss these topics with their families and take action," explained Rubin. "Each conversation will illustrate my motto: Talking about sex won't make you pregnant, and talking about funerals won't make you dead."


Topics to be covered include funeral planning, cremation, cemeteries, green burial and eco-friendly funerals, life celebrations, pet loss, insurance, estate planning, reducing costs, end-of-life issues and much more.


The program will initially air on public access channels in Alburquerque and along the Rio Grande corridor from Santa Fe to Las Cruces. The series will be offered nationally to 2,700 public access channels across the US. Pay-per-view online downloads with 10-minute You-Tube teasers and DVD sets grouped by topic will follow.


The anchor sponsor for the series is the FRENCH Family of Companies, Including FRENCH Advance Planning, Sunset Memorial Park, Best Friends Pet Services, Best Friends Forever Pet Cemetery and Cremation Society of New Mexico (CSNM). FRENCH is the recipient of the National Funeral Directors Association's 2012 Pursuit of Excellence Award and a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes.


A Good Goodbye TV offers a great avenue for appropriate companies to expand their consumer reach in a targeted way. The DVDs of the program can be used as an educational tool and in displays at trade shows.


Pontem new 9-2012 "The interest that funeral homes, suppliers, and financial planners have shown in sponsoring the series is really encouraging. There's really no TV show like this and as an advertising vehicle it targets interested consumers directly," said Rubin.


The series produces is Sean Wells with Videotero, LLC. For more information, visit http://agoodgoodbye.com/a-good-goodbye-tv-series/.


Gail Rubin, the Doyenne of Death, is author of the award-winning book A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die, and the Family Plot Blog. She is also a Certified Funeral Celebrant and a popular speaker who uses humor and films to get funeral planning conversations started.


Rubin is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the ICCFA. She's Vice President of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue of New Mexico, helping to start conversations across religions. She is well-versed in Jewish funeral and burial traditions.


Sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News, a Nomis Publication, for March 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission.

Fortune bank 4-2013

Storm's effects extend beyond obvious damage

to cemetery's trees, monuments

Interview of Richard Moylan, CCE, by Susan Loving, editor ICCFA Magazine


Sweeping up the East Coast and into New Jersey and New York in late November, Hurricane Sandy reminded us that a cemetery doesn't have to be in New Orleans to be damaged by a hurricane.


The New York Times reported that several NYC cemeteries, including The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, suffered damage to trees and monuments, but that The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn was "devastated."


Covering 478 acres, the historic cemetery is expected to spend more than $500,000 repairing the damage to its landscape, from trees toppled or damaged beyond recovery to monuments knocked over or cracked and fences crushed.


ICCFA Magazine talked to Green-Wood President Richard Moylan, CCE, about what is involved in this type of clean-up effort and how it affects cemetery operations and finances. 


Has Green-Wood been hit by storms like this before?

Yes. The hurricane in 2011 caught us a little bit.


You mean Irene?

Was it Irene? I lost track. It seems like once a year now we're getting hit with "the storm of the century." That tornado that came through Brooklyn didn't miss us by much, and earlier that year, we had had damage from another storm. But the damage from Sandy was the worst by far. The numbers from the previous storm were fairly low, something like 20 trees.

storm3 With Sandy, our buildings weren't affected at all. We never lost power because we didn't have any flooding. The damage was to the trees, especially the old trees. It's survival of the fittest.


What I mean is, when you look at the insides of some of the trees that come down, you see that there was rot inside; it was a weak tree. So, in those cases, we try to look at the bright side and say, "We're getting rid of the bad trees, and we'll plant new ones. But this time there were so many trees.


I live in Brooklyn, but at my house (a brownstone with houses connected on both sides), it was so calm, you couldn't even tell there was a storm. We didn't get much rain. So when I walked outside the next morning, I was surprised to see small trees down on my street. That's when I knew I was going to see some bad things when I got to the cemetery. But I couldn't have imagined how bad it would be.


From what I read in the New York Times and on Jeff Richman's blog, there were about 150 trees lost at Green-Wood.

Yes, that's about right. A lot of the others, maybe 120-130, that were damaged will probably have to come down, too, because they're too damaged to survive. We'll get to them later.


We quickly got every road in the cemetery open. We've been working six days a week just to clean things up. If I had a bigger crew and could divide them into teams, I'd have them working seven days a week, but I don't. We all need one day off.


What's the size of your grounds crew?

This time of the year, it's about 55, but that's including mechanics, drivers, grave-diggers. So we have maybe 10 or 12 people working on trees.


Do you have seasonal people who can be called back at all, or can you hire some temporary people?

That's a touchy issue: we haven't hired a seasonal in five years. But we're hoping to start contracting out some of the work.


It can be tough to book tree-removal people after a big storm because they have so much work.

We talked to a few; our superintendent wanted to bring them in for some of the big projects. And we might do it yet.


We have two bucket trucks and two chippers; we're pretty well equipped. But there are some stumps or bases of trees that are so big we're not going to be able to get them out.


It's going to take equipment like cranes, so our grounds superintendent has already gotten numbers for what it will cost to hire crews to come in, and the numbers are crazy. Just this morning he gave me a quote for a company that did some of the work for the Central Park Conservancy: $30,000-something a day, $132,000 a week.


Koppenberg 1/4 page They said they work 12 hours a day, but I don't know how you can work in the dark. We were working nine hours and more a day until mid-December, when I cut it back to our normal eight-hour day.


Supposedly the Central Park Conservancy is thrilled with the company, but I can't be throwing that kind of money at them. So what we're hoping to do is get everything we can with our crew. I hate to pay outside contractors for work our guys can do.


After we've done everything we can with our team, we'll call people to do the larger stuff that we can't handle. I'm hoping that maybe by then, the prices will have leveled off. I'm assuming they're inflated now because of supply and demand. You can't really blame a contractor if he's got people bidding for his services; he has to take advantage of that.


So our grounds will probably not be totally restored until the early part of the summer.


Do you have to bring in any special equipment for doing the tree clearing?

Not yet, but we will down the road for some of these big bases of trees that we just can't get out. Eventually we'll start either grinding stumps or removing them so we can re-plant a new tree nearby.


Link here for the rest of the story.  

columbarium 2012-2013  

MoylanICCFA Magazine subject spotlight:



moylanMoylan has been president of Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, since 1996. He has served the cemetery for four decades, starting as a teen-aged landscaper, then as assistant surveyor, grounds supervisor and assistant corporate secretary before being named president.


Moylan served on the ICCFA State Legislative and Regulatory Research Committee and on the ICCFA Strategic Planning Subcommittee.


He has been treasurer of the New York State Association of Cemeteries since 1998 and has served as president, 1995-96, and as a director, 1989-1995. He served as president of the Metropolitan Cemetery Association from 2004 to 2006 and as a director from 1997 to 2000. He was treasurer of the National Sculpture Society from January 2009 to April 2011.


Moylan received a bachelor's degree from Hunter College and a law degree from New York Law School.



The Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1838 as one of America's first rural cemeteries, encompasses 478 acres and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.


More on this subject:

Read the blog by Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman on the cemetery's website, www.green-wood.com.



10 Tips to build relationships with families

that love their pets


Cemeteries throughout the United States are increasingly finding out that one way to help families is by serving as a place to love and honor all of their loved ones - including pets. If you operate a cemetery with a pet section or if you're thinking about doing so, there are ways to improve your outreach. Coleen Ellis, founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center in Greenwood, Ind., provides these tips on reaching out to what many people call "pet parents."


dog21. Schedule a formal ceremony or open house around National Pet Memorial Day. Pet Memorial Day is always the second Sunday in September. This year, it will be held Sept. 8. Not many people know about this day because it was only declared a few years ago, Ellis said. But creating a service to honor pets can really pay off. "One of the things I participated in last year was a program titled 'Preparing to Say Goodbye: Understanding Pet Loss and Grief,'" Ellis said. "It was a very robust national pet memorial ceremony that is sponsored by Homesteaders Life Col, an animal rescue league, a local human hospice organization and a pet funeral home."
The event was an opportunity for veterinarians, grief therapists and families to gather and learn - as well as honor beloved pets that had died. "The first year was just a huge success, and we'll be doing it every year," Ellis said.


2. Tie in some type of pet memorial service with your regular Memorial Day events. Your cemetery should look for an opportunity to tie both of these together. "You can have a pet blessing to honor the pets with us now and a balloon release to honor pets that have died - all on the same weekend as your regular Memorial Day events - when people's minds are already on remembering and honoring the deceased," Ellis said.
 3. Hold a special pet blessing on cemetery grounds in October. This is the feast month of St. Francis, the patron saint of the lowly, the animals and the environment. It's just one more opportunity to show that you care about pets.


4. Schedule additional regular events throughout the year to remember deceased pets - just because. The loss one feels surrounding the death of a pet can be felt at any time, so schedule regular monthly balloon and/or bubble releases to help families remember their pets. You can market these to veterinary clinics and other businesses that share your love for pets.


dog1 5. Even if you don't allow pets to be buried at your cemetery, think of other creative ways you can help pet parents honor their beloved pets. For instance, you could allow people to buy a marker, buy engraved pavers or a plaque that honors a special relationship. "Even if a pet isn't buried there, you want families who love pets to consistently come back to your cemetery," Ellis said.


6. Educate your community by participating in activities that have a pet-friendly focus. "Do a group presentation to pet parents about planning ahead," Ellis suggested. "You can team up with an attorney and educate the audience on how to set up pet trusts. This can be a segue to planning ahead with the funeral home in some aspect or another. It's just one more nugget to get to people. people can be more willing to hear about planning ahead for a pet than themselves, and this can be an entry into the door for a larger discussion (if you also own a funeral home)."
7. Open your grounds for an official dog walk. Get dog lovers to your cemetery by holding a dog walk - you could even charge a nominal fee. It's important to communicate any such initiatives to local shelters and other allied groups. "You should also think about anything you can do to make your cemetery grounds more pet friendly," Ellis said. "Be more proactive. Maybe there are educational opportunities around the cemetery where you can have plaques, maybe you can have statues that feature working dogs or tell the history of working dogs. Make the cemetery a learning opportunity.


8. Hold events specifically for service dogs. There are so many unheralded working dogs - that includes police dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, dogs trained to detect seizures and even dogs that serve in the military, Ellis said. People that work with and love these dogs would definitely appreciate your efforts, and these programs can bolster your reputation in the community.


9. Co-brand events with a local animal shelter. Most shelters would be thrilled to partner with you to help honor pets that never found their "forever home" as well as to raise awareness about where families that want a new pet can go to bring some new love into their lives, Ellis said.


10. Get creative by co-branding events with other groups, such as doggy daycares, veterinarians and other animal-friendly organizations. The important thing is to develop relationships with other groups in your community that can spread your message. You can create a lot of good-will by supporting each other - and boost your business, too, Ellis said.
While cemeteries are increasingly doing a better job reaching out to pet parents, Ellis said there are so many opportunities being missed out on. "And all the things I've mentioned here - they are virtually free. You may need to spend a little money on cookies and coffee, but at the end of the day these are beautiful marketing pieces - not advertising pieces. They can help you build solid relationships with families and help show that you care about all aspects of the family - including the four-legged part of it.
Sourced from American Cemetery Magazine for March 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission.

Greening the Funeral Industry

Environmental Attitudes:

Do environmental attitudes in death care affect

end-of-life choices?


Editor's note: this may seem like a fairly dry and technical article, but it's worth reading through to the end.


A guest on Wisconsin Public Radio recently caught my attention talking about attitudes and the environment. Thomas Heberlein, a professor of community and environmental sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has spent the last 40 years studying the effects of attitudes on people's actions when it comes to environmental issues. Inspired by the talk, I checked out Heberlein's book, Navigating Environmental Attitudes, with consideration for people's choices in death care regarding environmental issues. The premise of navigating attitudes compares marketing and messaging regarding environmental attitudes to rafting a river. We don't set out on a river rafting trip with tons of dynamite so that we can move boulders and alter the riverscape. Like boulders among the rapids, attitudes are difficult to move and it is far easier (and less expensive) to understand and navigate attitudes than it is to alter them.


LEES-4-2012Heberlein goes into great academic detail on the characteristics of attitude and how to measure attitudes of a population. Interestingly, while attitudes are a real and observable influence in behavior, an attitude cannot be held, it has no mass, color, temperature, or other characteristics we generally associate with scientific measurement. Generally speaking, however, an attitude can be observed when an individual likes/dislikes an object or agrees/disagrees with an idea. When observing attitudes, there is always an object. That object can be an idea (environmental conservation), movement (racial equality), or a physical thing (bees).


Like environmental attitudes, death care attitudes can be observed as having both cognitive as well as emotional characteristics. The cognitive aspect of public attitude can be influenced with information (facts or purported facts), logic, and reason. The emotional aspect of public attitude is influenced by individual experience and is harder to change. Public attitudes can also be modeled both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal dimension represents the number of cognitive supporting elements of an attitude. The wider the horizontal axis (i.e. more supporting elements) the more stable the attitude is. The vertical dimension represents the emotional experience and core values from which the cognitive assessment is derived. Supporting elements of attitude deeply rooted in an individual's core values and personal experience are difficult to change. Let us use this model to observe environmental attitudes and cremation.


Wilbert 4-2012 [I preface this model with the disclaimer that these are not my personal opinions (or my personal attitude) but observations from reading countless articles on the topic and in speaking with hundreds of death care professionals and families.]To illustrate on the horizontal axis, let's review four elements of public attitude (there are others) for choosing cremation as an alternative to a cemetery burial. Cremation is less expensive. Cremation does not occupy valuable land space. Cremation does not require embalming, casket, or a cemetery monument. Cremation was the choice of someone close to me (spouse, parent, grandparent, etc.). Each of these four elements is supported by an individual's values and experience.


In this example, we observe that this individual values money and has information or experience leading to the conclusion that cremation is less costly than a cemetery burial. This person values environmental conservation and land use. From the statement about embalming we might observe that this person has an emotional experience regarding embalming and also wishes to avoid unnecessary spending on a casket and monument. Lastly, the emotional connection to other members of family is a key factor in attitude. People find comfort following their family when it comes to making end-of-life choices.


We can assess that this individual's attitude, based on four cognitive elements each deeply rooted in both information (cognitive) and experience (emotion), is fairly stable. Moving just one of these elements (i.e. if cremation was suddenly more expensive) is not likely to change this individual's attitude. On the other hand, people's attitudes generally shift and change over time. This can be observed with maturity as values change over the course of a lifetime. In this example, an individual may discover a conservation cemetery that actually preserves land for environmental conservation and learn that a direct burial can be achieved without use of embalming, casket, or monument. This might be enough new information to change one individual's attitude toward cremation. Yet another individual, even with three of the four horizontal elements of attitude removed, may have a deeply rooted value (i.e. being cremated and interred next to a spouse) that upholds the individual's attitude toward cremation as an end-of-life choice.


It might seem as though navigating attitudes in death care is a hopeless exercise that will have us running in circles. We must recognize that two individuals with seemingly similar life experiences based on the same information and core values can have opposing attitudes on the same subject. Take for example attitudes on a contemporary environmental topic such as proposed legislation banning chemicals found to kill bees. Take notice that two individuals sitting in a barber shop in your local community can read the same newspaper article, share similar core values, and even vote the same politically, but have opposing attitudes on bees. We see the same in death care on a number of detailed subjects including embalming, metal vs. wood caskets, how comfortable a casket interior looks and feels, land use and cemeteries, etc.


matthews 3-2-12I try to bring each of these columns to a close with a call to action. I offer this shallow glimpse into the well-established science of sociology and environmental attitudes to help us better understand our families' choices in end-of-life care. First, we must recognize that attitudes change slowly. During pre-planning we have time to ask questions to better understand the core values of an individual planning a funeral and offer new information and alternatives that may lead an individual to better decisions - decisions more in line with their core values. But even after offering what might be entirely new information, it takes time for the cognitive process to influence a change in attitude. This might happen over a few days, months, or even years but it certainly won't happen during that one hour session.


Second, by listening to our families and observing their core values, we not only put ourselves in a better position to provide a valued service, we build trust with our families. Human psychology (and sales training) tell us that good listening and comprehension skills achieve a mutual understanding of an individual's values and lead to trust in lasting personal relationships. People very much like to be understood. As for offering information, transparency is key. Separate your personal attitudes from factual information. It is helpful to offer a recommendation based on your own attitude, but be forthcoming that your recommendation is based on your own personal experience and core values. For example, "I value the environment as did my Mother, so when we buried her we decided to..." is an honest statement that discloses both your values and your own experience. Offering factual information comes more naturally. "The nearest conservation cemetery is 200 miles away. The plot and mileage expense would amount to about $xxxx. However, this rural cemetery just six miles outside of the city allows direct burial in a simple wooden casket without a burial vault and would save the time, expense, and environmental impact of the mileage." Even at the difficult time of need, offering both the richness of your experience and depth of your knowledge can help a family feel better about their choices - and build ever-lasting trust in personal relationships. This separates the practitioners from the professionals.


Author Jonas A. Zahn is the president and founder of Northwoods Casket Co., a manufacturer of environmentally friendly caskets made in Wisconsin. He has been involved in casket-making since building a casket for his Grandfather in 2004 and now distributes sustainable caskets to funeral homes throughout the United States. Jonas has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Jonas can be reached by email at Jonas.zahn@northwoodsCasket.com. Visit Northwoods Casket online at www.NorthwoodsCasket.com.


The article is sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News and reproduced in its entirety with permission.


Dave Hepburn assumes the helm at Historic Union Cemetery


Dave Hepburn

Bakersfield, CA - The Union Cemetery Association Board of Directors has named David N. Hepburn, Jr. as the new General Manager of the 141-year-old historic memorial park in Bakersfield, CA. Hepburn replaces outgoing manager Ruthe West who has been with Union Cemetery for 27 years.


The appointment comes amid many new changes for Union Cemetery, including the complete re-branding of its marketing, major fencing and landscaping improvements, development of a covered cremation niche pavilion, and implementation of a new advance need sales program. Many of these projects were spearheaded by Hepburn, who has been consulting with Union Cemetery for the last 18 months.


Acknowledging the legacy of his predecessor, Hepburn said, "Ruthe has demonstrated that the role of manager is far more than an administrative function, but one of caring stewardship for the remarkable heritage of Union Cemetery, and of course, for safeguarding the stories and memories of all those loved ones who rest here. I'm deeply honored to follow in her footsteps."


With the new leadership in place, Union Cemetery is continuing its role as an active participant in the community and industry as a member of many local, regional, state and national trade associations, including the ICCFA.


Hepburn was born into the cemetery industry. His father and grandfather were active as cemetery owners and suppliers for over 70 years, and while attending high school and college, Hepburn worked in the family business. Hepburn decided, however, to pursue a different direction and headed into international banking after graduation from USC. In 1980, Hepburn returned to the cemetery business to assist his father and has been back in the industry ever since, providing consulting services and directing the sales activities of major mausoleum builders and cemetery properties.


"I know that my father and grandfather would be proud that I'm carrying on the family tradition," said Hepburn. "I cannot think of a better place than Historic Union Cemetery to bring all of my family history and experience to bear."


Union Cemetery was established in 1872 and has become a part of the historic landscape of Bakersfield. It is the resting place of the founder of Bakersfield, Col. Thomas Baker, as well as numerous pioneers, settlers, soldiers, judges and politicians who were an important part of Bakersfield's past. The cemetery also provides a wide selection of memorial spaces for contemporary families who want to forever be part of the continuing story of Bakersfield. The 80-acre property is owned and cared for by the Union Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization. More information can be found at www.UnionCemetery1872.com.


FTC staff issues important opinion


On January 2, 2013 the FTC Funeral Rule Coordinator issued an advisory opinion stating the FTC Staff's positions under the Funeral Rule concerning the rights of Funeral Providers to charge clients additional amounts where they have specific circumstances that cause additional costs.


The original request for an opinion was filed on April 21, 2009 by the author and it dealt with the right to charge an additional fee and the manner of disclosing any extra fees on the General Price List (GPL) and the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected (SFGSS) for handling an obese body.


The inquiry filed in an email by the author asked the following:


PCM 1/2 page"I checked the FTC site on the question of whether a funeral provider could charge an extra fee for handling an obese body and did not find anything. The fee would related to extra equipment and a bigger container in a cremation situation. Alternatively, can a crematory have a higher service fee for a direct cremation for an obese body? There are obviously additional costs involved."


The FTC Staff responded affirmatively that it was permissible and stated:


"It is the staff's view, for the reasons stated below, that the Rule allows a funeral provider to charge only the prices that are listed on its GPL or other price lists required by the Rule, and does not permit additional charges that have not been disclosed on the price lists. Funeral providers are free, however, to place reasonable limitations on the availability of any listed GPL item at a particular price, provided they also disclose sufficient information for a consumer to determine the additional cost if the stated limitation is exceeded."


Simply stated this means if the reason for additional costs is explained on the GPL so a consumer is able to determine the basis for a possible charge, it is allowed under the Funeral Rule.


The Staff explained its statement of policy by comparing the extra charge for dealing with obese individuals to the charge for an additional mileage fee as follows:


"It is not uncommon, for example, for a GPL to include a mileage limitation within which the provider will transfer remains to the funeral home for the flat fee stated, and to disclose an additional cost per mile for removals from beyond the mileage limit. This is expressly permitted by Section 453.2(b)(4)(ii) of the RULE which states that a GPL may include "retail prices (expressed either as the flat fee, or as the price per hour, mile or other unit of computation)..."


The Staff went on further in the opinion to explain:


"Thus, nothing in the Rule prevents a funeral provider from including in its GPL an express weight limit for its flat fee for transferring remains to the funeral home, so long as the provider also discloses the additional cost for removals that exceed the weight limitation. Similarly, a crematory covered by the Rule may include an express weight limit for the flat fee for cremation in its GPL if it also discloses the additional cost for cremation that exceeds that weight limit."


The Staff in its Opinion Letter went on further to illustrate how a funeral provider should deal with any additional costs that might result from providing a service where the number of people in attendance at a service exceeded the normal capacity of the facility:


"By the same token, a funeral provider may limit its stated GPL price for funeral ceremonies or memorial services to a specified maximum number of people in attendance. In that case, the GPL must also make clear the additional cost for services exceeding the specified maximum."


Funeral Providers should review their operations and see in what areas there may be additional costs that could justify additional charges. However, if the additional charges relate to charges that might be prohibited by state or local laws, rules or court cases because thy constitute discrimination against a protected class then no adjustments should be made. If no restrictions, then their GPL should be reviewed and modified to make sure it discloses the basis for possible additional charges. Similar adjustments should be made to the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.


Author Harvey I. Lapin, P.C., is a member of the Illinois and Florida Bars, a faculty member at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and is associated with Florida-based law firm Sachs, Sax & Caplan, leading the firm's Funeral, Cemetery and Cremation Practice Group. Harvey is a frequent convention speaker, and prolific author of articles about this profession.


Sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News for March 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission.


Green-Wood Hurricane Sandy continued


What do you do with all the wood?

There are a couple of local furniture people who've asked if they can come in and take some pieces, and they have.


Do they pay you?

No, they're helping us dispose of the wood. Maybe they'll owe us favors.


So you don't need the wood for mulch?

We do use a lot of mulch, but this is more than we'll ever need. The city is actually allowing us to dump the mulch this time, because there's so much. I guess they're getting it from their own end, too.


We're keeping a pile near our entrance, and we let the word out that the public can come in and take what they want for free.

In addition to the trees, we've got damaged monuments - we initially counted 200, and that number probably will get higher as we clear away trees.


The damage runs the gamut. A lot of obelisks were knocked off their bases; some monuments cracked into pieces. An angel lost her head and her arm. We're facing a lot of work.


We always used to joke, "Gee, look at this. That tree came down and it landed right between these two monuments. Weren't we lucky?" Well, we weren't so lucky this time.


Sandy took out a lot of things: fences, some nice, somewhat ornate enclosures on lots; sculpture; monuments.


Are the monuments repairable?

Most of them are repairable in some form or another. Some of them that were knocked over we just have to stand up and point. If they've been cracked and have to be repaired, we'll do the best we can, but you're always going to see that crack. If we get more help, some might be able to be made whole again.


I don't know if and when our team will have the time to do that. We've gotten offers of help. The New York Landmarks Conservancy has offered us some conservators to come in and some cash to rent equipment. Not a lot, but a small grant. We'll take advantage of that when we're ready to do some more monument work.


storm2 The Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design is our "Pencil Partner." It's a program that matches schools with private businesses. We always have interns here during the summer and sometimes during the school year, learning preservation. The school called us after the storm and asked what they could do.


I told them we're not going to be doing much stonework right away, but they said they'd be willing to help with anything, that it would be a learning process for the kid even if they're just dragging out branches. They'll be able to see what a storm can do to monuments.


We've had them come out, and after our employees do the chainsaw cutting, the kids help drag branches out to the road. World Monuments Fund has offered to pay for the hardhats and the gloves and any safety equipment the kids need.


You have people on staff who can do the monument repair?

Yes, our crew is self-trained, but they're pretty good, so our guys can do a lot of the work. Anything that's really considered "art" I wouldn't let them touch, but I don't know of damage to anything like that.


Do you get any help from families with this type of repair, or is it considered maintenance covered by endowment care?

In New York, the monuments are not technically the responsibility of the cemetery unless there's a specific endowment to care for them. Otherwise, they're really the family's responsibility. A family might be able to make a claim on their homeowner's policy for a damaged monument, though you might have to make sure it's covered when you get your policy.


We've gotten some calls from out of state, people asking, "Is my lot okay?" So far, in those cases the lots were not damaged.


The problem is, most of the damaged monuments are on old lots and we don't really have any contact with the family. We feel it's our moral obligation to do what we can to repair the damaged monuments, and that's what we'll do.


With all the other suffering going on because of the storm, we were reluctant to put out a call for help, but then The New York Times wrote a little story on the damage and did a nice slide show online. We started asking for contributions on our website, and we've received several thousand dollars.


How will all this affect your budget?

We reported what's happening to the board; there's a certain amount of overtime we weren't planning on. I'm estimating between the trees and the monuments, it's going to cost us a minimum of $500,000, and probably closer to $750,000, just in our own labor.


But how the storm clean-up is really affecting us is that it's stopping us from doing the other work we normally do at this time of the year. In driving around the cemetery, I see areas where we have a lot of leaves down still. Usually be December we've got all of our leaves picked up.


That's going to create another whole set of problems, because if we don't get the leaves up by the spring, they'll suppress the grass. It becomes a vicious cycle.




Sourced from ICCFA Magazine for February 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission. 
Assorted Useful Links


Washington State Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 



Interesting in advertising in the Insider?


We have a far-flung readership of over 350 and our list is constantly growing.


Advertising is available only to WCCFA Supplier members. Link here for a membership application form. It's only $275 annually!


Link here for all you need to know about advertising with us. If you don't see what you need, send us an email here

Bulletin Board


Your Ad Here!



Do you have a job opening you need to fill? A piece of equipment to sell? Text advertisements are FREE in the Insider. Just click on the Bulletin Board logo to email your ad to the WCCFA and watch for it in our next Insider.
16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012 
P: 360-668-2120 or 888-522-7637 F: 360-282-6535 

The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data.

The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal

or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment

and analysis of technical and industry information sources.

MAIL ONLY 16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012-Phone 360.668.2120 or 888.522.7637.Fax 360-282-6535. News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.

For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.

Copyright 2011 Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association and FuneralNet