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In This Issue
Mom Says I Get Everything Including the Graves! (Part 3 of a series on cemetery interment rights laws)
Convention speakers & presentations
Convention Registration Info
News from Milne Construction
How did you end up a funeral director?
"We can wait!"
News from Wilbert Precast
All she wants is her husband's ashes back
News from Quiring Monuments
Elections! Nominees sought!
Scholarship Winner!
Van Beck on Ambulance Services of old
Easy fix for preneed contract problems
Elections! Nominees sought!
Cremation, the new Beetle
Links to offbeat online articles
Bulletin Board: Now Hiring!
Bulletin Board: Funeral director, sales positions available
Bulletin Board
Assorted Useful Links
Suppliers: Interested in advertising?

Vol. II, Issue VI

Question: What defines the WCCFA more than anything else?
We couldn't perform our service to the public without the support of our suppliers. So it's time for our annual THANK-YOU to all our SUPPLIER MEMBERS! This issue of THE INSIDER is devoted to those women and men and their services and products whose help enables us to better serve our families in their times of need. Read on to learn more about them.



Another report of cemetery bronze thefts

in South King County


Alert member David Quiring notified WCCFA that he was contacted last week by Ernest DeBella, a Seattle police officer. Officer DeBella said the Southwest precinct's Anti-Crime Team has been in contact with a "scrapper meth head" who said he takes his stolen metal to certain scrap yards and that he has seen burial monument metal on site.


Naturally this activity isn't limited to any specific area, so it is wise to keep vigilant at all times, and contact your local precinct immediately if you notice theft of anything bronze from your park. Remember these thefts include even small vase holders from columbaria and mausolea and check your property constantly for missing items. 


"Mom's will says I get everything

not listed in the will...



About this article From Washington State Law: 68.32.040 Descent of title to plot or right of interment. If no placement is made in a plot or right of interment, which has been transferred by deed or certificate of ownership to an individual owner, the title descends to the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner. If there is no surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, the title descends to the heirs at law of the owner. Following death of the owner, if all remains previously placed are lawfully removed and the owner did not dispose of the plot or right of interment by specific devise or by a written declaration filed and recorded in the office of the cemetery authority, the title descends to the surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner. If there is no surviving spouse or state registered domestic partner, the title descends to the heirs at law of the owner.


Matthews 7-1-13 Yes, we have all heard it before, "Mom's will says everything not listed goes to me ... the graves are not listed so they are mine." Hold the phone!


Some years back when dealing with such a statement, our company's attorney pointed out that the law(s) covering descent of title kick in when the owner's heart stops ... not when and if a will is read and processed in court. But, if process and the will lists specific graves in a specific cemetery, and the will is probated it becomes the "specific device" by which title is conveyed. Otherwise: READ THE LAW!


We are talking about unused (empty) graves, not graves where title has been quieted by virtue of occupancy; we are talking about graves owned by deceased owners that are not in use at the time of death. If only the spouses' names are on the deed then the graves descend to the surviving spouse. Or if the deed is in the name of just the deceased owner, it still descends to the surviving spouse. Absent a surviving spouse the unused graves descend to the "heirs-at-law."


NOW, what the H - E - Double toothpicks does "heirs-at-law" mean? Ask your attorney for a definition. Some have stated that the heirs are established by probate court. Others reference traditional heirs as being parents, siblings, children, grandchildren of the deceased. In 2005 and again 2007 this section of the Title 68 was considerably altered, dropping the list of decedents mentioned in the previous sentence. Why? It was pointed out that things have changed over the last 70 years. Some are divided two and three and more ways ... several remarriages with children from other spouses. What worked 70 years ago when RCW 38.32.040 was first written in too many cases just doesn't today.


Absent a court determining who the "heirs-at-law" are you are best advised to follow the game plan used for years.  


Reading the law you will notice an interesting comment: "Following death of the owner, if all remains previously placed are lawfully removed and the owner did not dispose of the plot or right of interment by specific devise or by a written declaration filed and recorded in the office of the cemetery authority, the title descends ..." This is designed to deal with the quieted title issue of occupied graves. From time to time cemeteries encounter just such happens. The surviving family moves all occupants to another cemetery or other graves within the cemetery. (Be sure parties so ordering have the authority to so order ... more on that in future issues.) Once legally vacated, the once occupied graves are no longer quieted title. They have become active title and subject to the descent provision.


The writer of the article is not an attorney, and doesn't hesitate to check with one. But, the writer of this article feels cemeterians are able to read the law and use their heads. The foregoing in the article is a case of "using one's head."


NWPP Ad 2013




The speakers and presentations...


lohman Nancy Lohman, ICCFA President - Nancy Lohman, along with her husband, Lowell, is the former owner of the largest private funeral company in Florida, before transitioning the company to Stonemor Partners, upon her husband's retirement. Nancy now serves as Florida regional director of Stonemor's Lohman Funeral Homes, Cemeteries and Cremation. Nancy will discuss the emerging pet memorialization industry. Is a pet cemetery for you? Find out! Nancy is only the second woman to serve as president of the ICCFA in its 128-year history, and is also a past president of the Southern States Cemetery and Funeral Association. 


Randall Earl

 Randall Earl, NFDA Past President - Randall Earl is co-owner of Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Homes of Decatur, Ill, and is the immediate past president of the National Funeral Directors Association. He has been a licensed funeral director for more than 40 years and is committed to the funeral service profession on both a state and national level.


mangelson G. Kent Mangelson, CFP, Author, Senior Advisor for Estate Planning at American Society for Asset Protection. G. Kent Magelson is an expert in the area of lawsuit protection and tax reduction strategies. He has authored and co-authored several publications and training manuals on the subject including "The Advanced Tax and Asset Protection Training Manual" and "The Asset Protection Bible." Mr. Mangelson will address What every funeral director and cemeterian needs to know about Asset Protection, Tax Reduction and Estate Planning. 


Mike Pursel, Mike Pursel Advertising - Mike has been involved with media advertising since 1976. He represents a diverse group of clients that include funeral homes and cemetery groups. Mike will ask and answer the question Is Your Marketing and Reputation on Life Support? Dr. Pursel from the Mike Pursel Advertising Clinic will diagnose what advertising viruses cause the most damage to your company and whether they should be surgically removed, and which should be resuscitated.  A Bad Reputation is curable!


darcie Darcie Sims, Grief Inc. - The ever-popluar Darcie Sims, who uses her own unique brand of humor as a special type of grief therapy. She is a bereaved parent, nationally certified grief management specialist, a psychotherapist, and a board certified hypnotherapist. An international speaker on grief, Darcie co-founded Grief Inc., and international grief consulting firm. She is a well known author, international speaker and currently writes for Grief Digest.


terry Terry School, The Davis Whitehall Co. - Terry established The Davis Whitehall Co. in 1991. With his extensive background in woodworking, chemical coatings and specialty finishes, Terry has found his calling in the funeral industry working closely with directors and their families in creating a one of a kind lasting memorial for their loved ones.






katz Dan Katz, Creative Director LA ads - LA ads is a full-service marketing firm that, in addition to its many other clients, offers a specialization in the funeral industry. Originating during the recession of 1991, it grew to become one of LA's largest independent advertising agencies, known as PKPF. Among the clients that they have served in the funeral profession are: Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary, Stewart Enterprises, Homesteaders, Mount Sinai Memorial parks & Mortuaries and Green Hills Memorial Park. Dan will discuss Creativity in All Things: How to Become More Idea Prone.  This is directed to anybody in any department who has any influence on a company's operations, from accounting to marketing to management.  Being more creative opens up doors that were previously closed, or not even seen before.  The presentation discusses how to be more creative and bashes the myth "I'm not creative."  We will use a variety of exercises and examples to help attendees discover that they are indeed creative beings once they get past the self-imposed barriers to creativity. 


dennis Dennis Boser, Jr., Superintendent of Cemeteries for SCI's Seattle Market, is a passionate advocate for serving families in absolutely the best ways possible.

In his presentation Total Customer Service From the Grounds Up Dennis will lead a lively discussion on little and big things you might never think about doing, but should. He has observed the good, the bad and the ugly in customer service and has used his experiences to craft his entire approach to death care. As cemeterians, we are the eternal keepers of memories. Let's share some stories! 



pifer Arlyn Pifer, Options by Batesville - Arlyn joined Batesville Casket Co. in 2008, and joined the Options by Batesville team in May of 2010. He has assisted hundreds of independent funeral homes in the United States in improving their presentation, offerings and results with cremation families. Currently he supports national accounts, regional consolidators and several key accounts in the United States. His primary focus continues to be helping funeral homes in analyzing their cremation business and ensuring that they have all the necessary knowledge to address this ever-evolving segment. Arlyn will discuss overcoming cremation marketing challenges.


See the links below to download your convention registration forms. Our room block was released July 22. There should still be rooms available but DON'T WAIT! 

  Register today


* * * 





Celebrating 60 years of service

in the Northwest!


Since 1953, MILNE CONSTRUCTION CO. has proudly served the cemetery industry. Assisting cemeteries through all stages of growth and development, Milne provides a range of services including Construction, Architectural Design, Master-Planning, Sales and Marketing Guidance, Virtual-Reality Videos, and Inventory Control. 2013 continues this legacy, with new and exciting projects in Washington and Oregon.


Currently under construction, the 6th addition to Good Shepherd Mausoleum in Vancouver, WA, balances out the existing garden mausoleum design and introduces additional inventory. Among the continuously growing list of repeat customers, Evergreen can attest to Milne's ongoing commitment to excellence and high customer satisfaction.



Good Shepherd Mausoleum (6th addition construction underway)

Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Vancouver WA


Just a short drive down Interstate 5, Milne has recently completed Chestnut Grove cremation garden for Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. A property noted among the "Top 10 Cemeteries in the World to Visit" by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Lone Fir provides the opportunity for families to share ground with some of Portland's most famous residents. With its first burial dating back to 1846, Lone Fir is the oldest cemetery in the Portland area and the largest of 14 pioneer cemeteries managed by Metro regional government. Unfortunately, Metro closed sales in 2009 due to a lack of space. The Chestnut Grove cremation garden addresses the need for additional inventory and demand for cremation space, while taking a responsible and creative approach to achieving it. This design includes many choices including columbarium niches, ground inurnments, ossuary, and cenotaph. 




Chestnut Grove Cremation Garden - Phase I,

Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland OR


With a similar goal of conserving space and generating new inventory, the community mausoleum at Evergreen Memorial Park in McMinnville, Oregon expresses sensitivity to the landscape and an understated charm. Called the "Gem of the Valley" by some, this building design utilizes craftsmanship, finishes, and site selection to lessen the impact on the natural cemetery setting, while producing a distinctive small mausoleum. 



 Community Mausoleum,

Evergreen Memorial Park, McMinnville, Oregon


Regardless of the project type or size, the Milne Team is motivated to succeed and dedicated to providing the best possible service through sensitive design, attention to detail and the client's needs, and superior craftsmanship. MILNE CONSTRUCTION's poured-in-place concrete mausoleum and columbarium structures are destined to abide and gracefully endure as tomorrow's heritage.  

For more information, please call 1-800-547-4909 or visit www.milneconstruction.com 


Milne Construction Co.

President: David O. Dahl

Email: info@milneconstruction.com Phone: 1-800-547-4909

Website: www.milneconstruction.com  

Milne 2013  


How did you end up

becoming a funeral director?


A few weeks ago I asked a friend of mine, a relative newcomer to the profession, how she'd ended up becoming a funeral director. I asked her if she'd consider writing a piece for the Insider. Here is what Vanessa Rose concluded about her decision to enter the death-care profession:


Vanessa One of the first questions we all ask each other is "How did you end up in this profession?" Of course one of the more common answers to that question is that it was a calling. I have also heard people say that they do this just for the money or they wanted to do something different.


There is a wide umbrella of reasons why someone would want to pursue a career in memorialization. Here is my reason.


It was the summer of 2006 when my one-year-old daughter Loukia started having fainting spells and was failing to thrive. She would just fall and drop. It was terrifying. This continued for three years. Every day and night, I was consumed with anticipatory grief. The doctors had no idea what was going on with her. When she would faint I was overcome with fear that she would never come back.


Once her health stabilized I began a quest to figure out where I belonged. I needed a community. I needed to go out and help people. I felt the emotional stress of loss even though I had lost no one. My calling is to be a part of something profoundly human: taking care of people through a time of loss.


Now that I am a funeral director I am focusing more on what that means. Funeral directors are professional care-givers. I like to think of the funeral/disposition process as a bridge. At the time of the first contact with a family, we all take that first step together. There are several bridges to walk. Some are short, some are long, but most important is that the bridge is strong.


In the book "How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies" by Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., the author recognizes that funeral directors are highly skilled professionals. She states that funeral professionals should be people "with personal integrity, a caring person with a desire to serve other people." One of my favorite lines in her book describes how directors facilitate in "creating the type of service that will be a fitting end to the life...and a suitable beginning...in living without that person...".


According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics website last published March 29, 2012, (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/funeral-directors.htm) comparing similar occupations to the funeral director includes physicians and surgeons, psychologists and social workers. It is imperative that funeral directors are committed to upholding the integrity, dignity and care of the families in need and to demand the same for the profession. These care-givers are a vital part of our society and our culture. In fact, I believe that the funeral profession has such an impact on society that we need to make sure the work we do is done with great responsibility to the public.


Mattie J.T. Stepanek (http://www.mattieonline.com/), a 13-year-old boy who died from a complicated illness, said "Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future."


So before I take my families and walk them over the bridge, I make sure that the path is clear and free from anything that can make them fall. When we are over the bridge and then we all say goodbye, all that remains is that bridge and I.


-Vanessa Rose, Funeral Director, SCI Seattle Major Market


Evergreen Memorial Gardens says...

"We Can Wait!"



At a recent wine festival, Brad and Mary Carlson, Evergreen Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home, offered free rides for those who made a little bit too merry. 




Clients of ours will tell you that the name means quality, excellent service, innovative ideas and a unique sense of understanding the needs of our customers in the cemetery industry. These virtues have always been the philosophy of our company and are the driving force behind our management team.


We are now entering our 105th anniversary year in the business. The company is family-owned and is now being run by the fourth generation of the Houk family.


The following is a list of services our Construction & Design Division can provide to help cemeteries improve their properties:












Wilbert Precast also is the supplier of  the "Wilbert" brand burial vaults and cremation products in the Inland Empire, which covers the areas of  E. Washington, Northern Idaho and Western Montana.


I would like to extend an invitation to all members of the association who  are contemplating cemetery improvements to contact Dan Terhaar at 1-800-888-4573 and let me explain how Wilbert Precast can help you with any upcoming projects, or help you dream up something new!







All she wants

is her husband's ashes back


Burglars cleaned out Valerie Rogers' jewelry drawer in a "smash and grab" at her home in the Clarkwood subdivision of Vancouver's North Image neighborhood on July 17.


Rogers, 52, went out to dinner in Portland with her 15-year-old son around 4:30 p.m. and returned two hours later to find somebody had busted through the back glass door. They bypassed her home office, leaving expensive electronics untouched, and went straight for her bedroom, the first room off the second-floor landing.


PCM 1/2 page Every single piece of jewelry she owned was taken - except for the bracelet and earrings she wore to dinner. Many were sentimental pieces given by her son that had no financial value - Dollar Store jewelry he bought during elementary school, a heart-shaped napkin he made at Olive Garden that says "Happy 50th Birthday."


But among the most precious items stolen was a small two-toned wooden box containing her former husband's ashes, an engraved silver heart-shaped necklace containing a small amount of the ashes, and their wedding rings.

David R. Ashe died at age 41 on Jan. 9, 2000, from sudden heart failure. His ashes were placed into a box, which has a sticker on the bottom saying it's from Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Funeral Chapel. The couple grew up together outside of Chehalis and had known each other since Rogers was 11 years old.


She speculates the thieves discovered there was nothing special about the box and tossed it out.


"I can't even begin to tell you the hurt and the pain and the loss," she said.

When she returned to work, she couldn't talk to her employees about what she experienced without breaking into tears.


The burglary comes at a particularly bad time for Rogers, who was diagnosed with a colon disease a few years ago and has no health insurance. The thieves took her blood pressure medicine and antibiotics.


Pontem new 7-2013 They also swiped her garage door opener and the spare key fob to her Toyota Prius.


Responding Vancouver Police Sgt. Dave Henderson was helpful in telling her how to secure her home and disengaged her garage door opener. He also took an inventory of her items, though Rogers can't find any pictures of the things that were stolen.


She says the robbery has been a huge expense. She's since installed cameras and a home security system, as well as reprogrammed the garage door and car security systems.


Despite the added assurance, she still fears the robbers will return for other valuables they didn't get the first time. She looks around the house before she leaves and questions any noises, such as the dog barking.


"It's just a different, uneasy way of living," said Rogers, who has lived in Vancouver more than 30 years.


The Vancouver Police Departments asks that anyone who finds Rogers' belongings or who has information that would lead to their recovery, call 911.


A similar burglary occurred the day before, July 16, at another home in Vancouver. The homeowner, a woman in her 50s who was not available for an interview, had nothing of any real value, but it was the second time in six months that her home was hit.


Sentimental items were taken in the burglary, including cuff links that belonged to her grandfather, a jewelry box from her grandmother that played "Edelweiss," and a necklace given to her by her mother at age five. But most importantly, they took a favorite hat belonging to the 17-year-old son's best friend who died about a month ago.


sourced from the July 31, 2013 Vancouver Columbian online, author Patty Hastings




This DeceQ logomber Quiring Monuments will be celebrating 65 years in business at the same location. Our company takes great pride in this milestone that few companies have been able to attain.


Any ship leaving on a voyage must have a specific destination; likewise, a new company must have a firm direction that enables it to navigate through the myriad of choices that will dictate its future success.


Back in the beginning, David Quiring, Sr. had a simple plan that started his new company on the road: "Give the customer what they ask for and then give them something extra they didn't expect." In the past 65 years we have tried to over-serve our customers and that is one reason we have continued to grow for four generations.


As we did in 1949, if there is a problem, we fix it. We understand the heartfelt emotion that surrounds every monument we make so we must make it right, one way or another.


We have always tried to be a leader in our industry, using new technology, sourcing unique materials and adding creative art and graphic design to every memorial we make. We make all our decisions by thinking ethically and looking long term.


Q photo 2013 We expect to be here for the future generations of our customers. We use the best materials, technology and methods so that your long-term maintenance is minimized and customer satisfaction is maximized. We regularly train your sales people to understand how to create meaningful memorialization and how important memorialization is to grieving families.


And yes, we do make mistakes, sometimes we misunderstand directions, misspell names, and miss a deadline, but always we promise to be there to solve the problem for our customer.


Thank you for choosing us for so many years. We want nothing more than to be here for many more generations and will do our best to be your partner in service to families of the Northwest in need of memorialization.


Fortune bank 4-2013

Meet Brenda Perez, winner of the

2013 Paul M. Elvig Student Scholarship

to the WCCFA Annual Convention


Brenda Perez, a student in PIMA Medical's Mortuary Studies program (Seattle), submitted the following and was chosen by the WCCFA Scholarship Committee to receive its annual scholarship to the convention.


Why did you enter the death-care profession?


I decided to enter the death-care profession when my friend's brother-in-law Anthony was on his deathbed. He had cancer and his death was imminent. Because of this I felt a need to emotionally support my friend in his time of need. Watching someone die is not an experience I was familiar with. As we stood by and watched him struggle for his last breath, I felt I needed to take action. When he took his last breath the hysteria began, his wife was crying, my friend just left, and Anthony was left alone on his bed. The only way to describe what I felt at that moment was a calling. A calling to make sure that Anthony was cared for in death and treated with dignity. I lowered the head of his bed, fluffed his pillow, covered him with his favorite blanket, repositioned his hands, and closed his eyes. This entire process seemed very natural for me.


What does the death-care profession mean to you?


The death-care profession means to me creating a dignified, respectful and sympathetic manner to care for families who mourn the deceased. Strive to provide emotional support and to guide families through a most difficult time. To ensure that families have an opportunity to say good-bye to their loved one. To memorialize and celebrate the life of the deceased, and to be an approachable and reliable source of information to the public.


What would you do to strengthen this profession?


I believe to strengthen this profession licensees must be involved in life long learning. Funeral professionals must inform the public regarding the benefits of memorialization. We can strengthen the licensees by improving continuing education and by instilling in our future graduates the desire higher education.


Why do you want to become involved with the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association?


I want to be involved in the WCCFA because I understand that strong professional organizations are key to a strong profession. In addition a strong professional association such as the WCCFA supports the individual funeral professional with the latest innovations and current trends through out the country.


Congratulations to Brenda Perez! Be sure to welcome her to the convention.



About the Paul M. Elvig Student Scholarship: The WCCFA offers a full scholarship to its Annual Convention. The scholarship covers one full registration to the convention and hotel stay. Travel expenses are not included. Applicants must be active mortuary school students and first-time attendees. The scholarship is named in honor of Paul Elvig, a Lifetime WCCFA member and nearly 50-year death-care profession advocate. 


Memories of

the Ambulance Service

by Todd W. Van Beck


Van Beck After I wrote my first article on my memories of the funeral home ambulance service, my friends understood what a ride it was working on the funeral home ambulance service.


I have funny stories about ambulance calls, but recently I had an experience which made me think back more than 30 years ago to a particular call we had which wasn't funny in the least.


As I was driving back from lunch I pulled over for a fire engine that was followed by an ambulance. Of course the ambulance I saw today was much different than the ones I worked on. I believe modern ambulances are literally emergency rooms with wheels and thank God for that. Many lives are saved because of the advancements that we almost take for granted today.


Our vehicles and training back then cannot compare with present-day sophistication. We ran smack into terribly difficult life and death calls on a regular basis.


As I turned the corner going back to the funeral home the fire engine and ambulance had all lanes going my way blocked. A police officer was on scene and in a short time one of the paramedics came out of the house, and I could see he was carrying a baby in his arms. I felt the tremors of anxiety that only someone having been on the ambulance, involved with an injured and ill infant can feel.


My memory went back to 1969 in north Omaha. Everybody who knew anything about ambulance work also knew full well that just about the time you relaxed, or calls got boring, was just about the same time some call would come in that would derail your comfort level and alter your psyche forever. This happened to me on many memorable occasions. Here is one of them.


premier 2013-2014 for web It was hot in Omaha, blistering hot! We dreaded daytime calls because the air conditioner in the back simply couldn't keep up with the doors constantly being opened and closed. Night calls were better, or so I thought.


This was not a police call, which were almost always safer to respond to, simply because if the police were on scene one of them had a gun. But off we went to north Omaha, the neighborhood was rough, many burned out buildings. It was about 8:30 p.m. as we pulled up in front of the address often times in really tough calls people are screaming, running around going nuts, but not this time.


I was in the passenger seat of the ambulance, everything was quiet. Out of the blue like a shot in the dark, a young woman came flying out her front door, down the steps and tossed a small bundle into my arms. It all happened so fast that my buddy who was driving had not even got out of the vehicle.


I looked down at the small bundle in my arms and pulled the blanket back. It was a little baby not more than three months old. The young woman started shrieking and yelling, and then she started punching me in the arm. I froze.


As I took the infant into the back of the ambulance I could tell that the baby wasn't breathing. I was mortified. Advanced first aid had covered CPR, but hell I never thought I would run into this situation in a million years.


Koppenberg 1/4 page My buddy looked at me and did not say one word as he jumped into the driver's seat. I shut the back door and off we went to the nearest Omaha hospital. We had purchased an "Emerson Resuscitator" which was the state of the art in emergency breathing equipment in 1969. Looking back, however, the bloody thing didn't work. There was an adult and a child mask, but no infant mask, which wasn't going to work when you need a perfect seal.


The baby was not moving and I was trembling and thought "Lord help me!" Finally I bit the bullet...and started mouth to mouth resuscitation and heart compressions. The driver was so freaked out that he was going 70 MPH up a major avenue in Omaha, which didn't make it any easier for me being flung around in the back of the old ambulance.

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The easy fix

to one of our biggest problems with preneed contracts


Isard Preneed has been around for longer than your career. In my book "The Complete Preneed Perspective" I chronicled the advent of preneed, showing its origin via the Greek burial societies of thousands of years ago to our sophisticated modern arrangements.


The problem we have is we have gotten so modern we have finally screwed up prearrangements. While there are many problems with our modern preneed, one is immediately fixable. That easy fix is the preneed contract.


The ICCFA has been extremely proactive on all things dealing with advance sales. Since its early DNA was cemetery-oriented, it was obvious that advance selling of cemetery and funeral contracts was going to be a keystone to its identity.


To this day, the annual Wide World of Sales Conference in Las Vegas is a gathering of those in our profession who are advance-sales oriented (and a few who like Vegas). So, if I am going to try and influence the profession to make this change. I want to start with ICCFA readers.


The problem(s)


Today, preneed is at least a $60 billion financial industry, by my estimation. Federal tax laws have been written specifically to capture the tax on the earnings of these monies. The GAO studies the growth of preneed deposits. I know this because we consult with them on our findings. There is no "flying under the radar" for preneed any longer.


I have long ranted about the problems with preneed:


  • The guarantee offered as an inducement within most preneeds is a problem. It was a problem when interest rates were 10%, and it is a problem with our current world of 1 percent interest rates.
  •  The trusting percentage is a problem. Anything less than 100 percent trusting can be a problem when the service is rendered if we are in a world where the average profic (according to Federated Funeral Directors of America) is 6 percent of revenue.
  •  The use of insurance can be a problem. We have more than 50 preneed insurance companies, and many of them have poor investment portfolios, low capital and surplus funds and other financial inadequacies unseen by most funeral directors.
  •  Trust investments are not any less of a problem than insurance. We have seen numerous problems with state association trusts, private trust companies and others that have mismanaged the safety of the principal of preneed deposits.
  • The taxation of preneed investments, whether insurance, trust or annuities, is a problem. Most sponsors won't discuss this clearly. There are multiple options on the taxation of the trust deposits, and we tend to pick the option that impairs funeral profits. In the case of annuities, we tend to deny the taxation of annuity growth rather than confront it. Money is money, and the taxes due on earnings must be paid by someone.


Sightlife 6-2013 However, the biggest problem, the one that is so easy to correct, is the preneed contract itself. Imagine a consumer comes into your funeral home and wants to prearrange. You enter into a Funeral Goods & Services contract (FG&S) with the consumer.


If the consumer wants to fund the agreement, you then employ a trusting deposit contract or an insurance application for them to sign. If or when the insurance contract is approved, it is replaced with an insurance contract. So in a funde3d preneed, we have two contracts, neither of which is directly related to the other.


As the consumer leaves your funeral home, he or she does something extremely predictable. In fact, I bet each reader could write this paragraph with me.


Try it: The consumer gets on the phone and calls ________. He or she says to __________, "I just left the funeral home and I ___________. You don't have to worry because about anything _______!"


Now, I ask you, as a colleague writing this article with me, is everything taken care of as the consumer told his or her child in that phone call? (You did fill in those first two blanks with "his child" or "his children," didn't you?


Are there any expenses not covered by this preneed contract? Is there any chance that, 10 years from now, when you are sitting across the table from the recipient of that phone call, there may be a problem in fulfilling that preneed arrangement? Is there any chance that Action News will not be filming outside of your funeral home before 5 p.m. that night?


The problem is, there is a chance the consumer did not fully understand what was covered by the contracts, and therefore did not give his child completely accurate information.


First of all, the FG&S contract is fraught with problems. In most such contracts, there are services and merchandise which the funeral home is providing and then there are "cash advances." Even if the contract is guaranteed, there are usually cash advance items which are not guaranteed.

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Coastal BSG 2013



Elections to the WCCFA Board of Directors will be held during the Aug. 23 Membership Meeting


ONLY voting members in GOOD STANDING* will be able to cast a ballot.


Voter Designation Forms have been mailed to all voting members per the by-laws of the WCCFA. BE SURE to return your signed designation forms to the WCCFA immediately. 


"Article III Section 3. A member in good standing may designate any of its officers or employees to act for it in the Association, and to vote at all meetings, provided that only one vote be cast by each member property. Such designation shall be on a "Designation of Voting Rights" form authorized by the Board and mailed to each member along with notice to the annual meeting. Members shall submit the "Designation of Voting Rights" form by return mail no later than seven (7) days prior to opening gavel of the annual meeting, or submitted in person by the designate voter to the Secretary-Treasurer prior to opening gavel. There shall be no proxy or cumulative voting." 


WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN FOR THE BOARD? It doesn't take that much of your time and it's a great way to get involved with the doings of the WCCFA...and yes... there IS a free lunch! Click here for a brochure with more information about the board and how it works. There are TWO three-year director positions open and one possible alternate position. Click here: info@wcfa.us and email us right away if you're interested.


*Have you renewed your WCCFA membership

for 2013?


Renewal forms were mailed at the end of December, and reminders have gone out several times. 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



OM Ad 6-2013

Cremation, the new Beetle


Beetle Back in the 1960s when I was a kid, the car all young Boomers seemed to be driving was the VW Beetle. I bought one myself in 1971. It was small, cute and, especially, cheap. But the Beetle quickly became a lifestyle symbol that transcended its affordability. Driving a Beetle (and its big brother, the VW Bus) was a statement that said, 'I don't want to drive my parents' big Oldsmobile; this is a car for my generation.' They painted 'em. They stickered 'em. They made them their own. I remember you could buy a fake Rolls Royce grille for your bug.


Even though today's Boomers are older and grayer, they still seek self-expression and a departure from the traditions that defined their parents. And thus the massive increase in cremation. For many Boomers, cremation is a simpler, faster, cleaner, greener and more relevant way to say goodbye. It's the new "Love In." And make no mistake, love, not money, is at the heart of it. Though price may have first triggered the interest in cremation, now it has little to do with dollars and everything to do with love, dignity, individuality, creativity, self-expression and the quick return of their departed family members back to the elements.


Holland suppliers 2013 So while cremation (especially without a funeral) is a painful stab at a time-honored tradition for funeral professionals, it's a deep and symbolic statement for many consumers. What's a concerned funeral professional to do? The answer is to listen with open ears and communicate with an open heart.


It's in perceiving cremation not as a threat but as an opportunity to serve  that may open up new doors to profitability for the innovative provider.


Imagine, for example, two ads. One focuses on "cheap" low-price cremations. The other talks about the value, meaningfulness, choices - and, oh yes, affordability - within the cremation experience. In the end, guess which ad will net the larger share of cremation business? Which provider will be in a better position to sell unique memorialization options that the family hasn't even considered yet...options that perhaps the competition isn't offering? Not the low-cost guy, who may or may not really be the lowest price in town the day after the ad runs.


Certainly there will always be a percentage of cremation consumers who are price-focused. But there are many more who choose cremation because it fits with their view of what's important and what's meaningful. Your speaking to this audience on their terms can open up a conversation that may include a powerfully moving memorial service concluding with an inurnment within a beautiful columbarium or mausoleum that family members can return to generation after generation. For Boomers who reject their parents' traditional approach, you have the opportunity to create entirely new traditions if you're listening and you're creative!


Your job then is to help your audience see a wider picture and to enhance their experience with all the options you have available, or that you are willing to find or create. Embracing the change going on within the Baby Boom generation, rather than fighting it, will put you in the same boat those smart VW dealers enjoyed throughout the 60s and 70s. Peace, love, and ashes to ashes, Baby!


From LA ads' blog, Funeral Advertising for the Perplexed. The author, Dan Katz, will be a guest speaker at our August convention, on Saturday, August 24. He'll address "Creativity In All Things: How to Become More Idea Prone"  Visit LA ads Marketing to learn more.





Links to a couple more stories you might find intriguing and/or amusing...


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Top 10

Link here for the slide show


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Facebook is the new graveyard 


Where's the line between an Internet overshare and a compelling peek into human existence? NPR's Scott Simon walked it this week as he live-tweeted from his mother's deathbed. Just that description - "he live-tweeted from his mother's deathbed" - makes it sound crass and attention-seeking. And yet Simon's tweets were the opposite. They were largely well-crafted. They were alternately heartfelt, sad and funny, sometimes all at once. They captured the banality of a hospital death, the desire to cherish every moment and the simultaneous slow creep of time as a loved one lies dying. Mostly, they paint a portrait of his mother. She's clever, she's funny, she's vulnerable. She loves her son. Her son feels compelled to tell the world about her.


"Do you want to tell me about her?" is one of the few things therapists and grief counselors recommend one say to a grieving friend. 


Link here to read the article on Salon.com




Easy Fix for Preneed Contract Problems continued


So if the family decides, in the interest of time, they want to have the burial on a weekend, was that anticipated in the cash advances? If the minister who usually wanted a $75 honorarium needs to fund and IRA and raises the fee to $150, was that anticipated? The arrangement called for three dozen daisies as the only flowers, but due to a worldwide shortage of bees daisies have gone from $2 a dozen to $40 a dozen. Was that anticipated?


Cash advances are not the only concern in the FG&S contract. Suppose you change casket suppliers. Many contracts for preneeds actually spell out a specific casket. I know you have the right to supply a comparable unit, but how well did the consumer understand this?


Wilbert 4-2012 When the consumer made the arrangement, he was of average size, but maybe in the 10 years between the signing of the contract and his death, he gained enough weight that an oversized casket will be necessary. Did the contract provide for this added cost? You are in a no-win situation.


About 75 to 80 percent of all preneeds are single pay. This means the total amount of the funding is provided at the time of the signing of the FG&S. These contracts tend to be serviced, on average, between five and ten years after the date of the contract signing.


About 20 to 25 percent of all preneed contracts are not fully funded at the time of signing. These contracts are paid for over time. In my studies, I have found that these installment contracts are generally for consumers who are six to ten years younger than those who pay a lump sum. Therefore, the period of time between the signing of the installment contract and when it is serviced sometime further into the future than the lump sum contract, we have even more problems with them.


All "the kids" understand is that their sainted parent called them on that fateful day of the FG&S signing and said, "We took care of everything." Now you, a total stranger, are besmirching the words and intent of their heaven-bound parent and, on top of everything else, are asking them for money! You are reprehensible for intruding on their grief and asking for money when this was all taken care of.


A contract that makes things clear

If we had a clear contract, outlining and explaining the FG&S and then outlining and explaining the depository/insurance funding relationship, we would be able to make sure that the consumer understood everything. If we got the consumer to initial their understanding on the issues that could come back to haunt an arrangement conference, it would help us make these matters clearer to the survivors in that arrangement conference.





I have been an expert witness in many cases over my 30 years in the business. Some were consumer-oriented litigation. Every attorney I have ever spoken to about contract matters tells me the same thing. The goal of a contract is to do three things:



1. Make sure it is clearly written in a good font so that the party signing can be shown to have read the contract.

2. Make sure it is clear that issues that could lead to disagreement in the future were clearly pointed out to the consumer and that the consumer knew these issues.

3. Make certain you can demonstrate that any parts to this contract can be clearly understood.


Therefore, it is incumbent upon us today to stop writing preneed until we can write a new preneed contract.


In my perfect world, that contract is clearly written: 

  • It refers to the actions of the funeral home and the source of the funds.
  • It clearly conforms to state law.
  • It highlights the areas that are guaranteed and not guaranteed.
  • If there are going to be third-party providers who are not bound by the agreement, we explain that we cannot control their ability to provide services or their prices.
  • If there is merchandise of any kind, we must be clear, and the consumer must know that there can be substitution under certain circumstances.

The way you make these matters clear is by having a contract which has places for the consumer to sign that they understand these issues. Consumers should sign the contract in full, but they should also initial each of these simply explainable points which could lead to problems in the future.


Here are two examples that could be added to a contract to clarify these particular issues:


(initial) I understand any expense within the category entitled Cash Advances may require additional payment at the time of service if the provider raises prices at a rate greater than my deposit earns interest.

(initial) I understand I am paying ($) now and am obligated to pay ($) on this contract by making monthly payments of ($) for (#) months. If I fail to pay the amount due each month, my contract will not be guaranteed for the items listed as being guaranteed and my family will receive a credit against the funeral bill at the time of of my death equal to my deposit, plus any additional payments, plus any interest credited to my account.


I am not an attorney and the examples above are just that, examples. Readers who agree with me that this matter must be better addressed in the contracts they use should work with their attorney to develop new contract wording. I recommend you use an attorney that specializes in funeral law rather than a generalist.


Two more steps you should take

I would go one step further in the selling process. Don't stop selling when the sale is made. You should offer to send a copy of the paperwork to your client's child(ren), if they are the ones who may be sitting across from you making the client's arrangements in the future. Explain to these children why their parent made the choices they did. Explain the areas that may be flexible. Explain the solutions.


Lastly, since we are dealing with a contract, make sure you copy it, protect it and have the contract available for when it's needed in the future.


I remember one case where a client bought out their competitor after the competitor had a fire. The client went to the scene of the fire and found hundreds of charred and water-damaged preneed contracts. The client gathered them up and worked to create order out of the mayhem, but in the end had only about a third of the contracts that were now his responsibility.


We live in a world where scanning is no longer a high-tech issue: anyone can buy a scanner-copier-printer for less than $100. offsite protection of data is cheap and easy. If we are going to write these contracts, they should be copied and protected off site.


Clear communication now and clear documentation to record that communication can prevent a mountain of problems in the future.


Article by Daniel M. Isard, MSFS sourced from the ICCFA Magazine for August/September 2013 is reproduced in its entirety with permission.


He is president of the Foresight Companies LLC, a business and management consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of several books and publishes the monthly Preneed Perspective.



Memories of the Ambulance Service continued


I don't know why I did this - ignorance, desperation, stupidity - I don't know, but I decided to pick that infant up and smack its bottom I smacked the baby's bottom and the turned him round and started CPR. In a few seconds the baby vomited, right in my mouth. I can't say I handled that very well because I also threw up (I was a true professional). Out of nowhere we were under the canopy at the hospital and my buddy had hysterically raced into the ER yelling and screaming about our desperate situation, and before I knew it three nurses had taken the infant out of my arms and into the ER.


A crisis seems to end as quickly as it starts. One moment I was getting vomit in my mouth, the next I was sitting safely in the front seat of the ambulance, having no control at all over the situation and feeling damned happy and relieved that I did not. My buddy and I just sat in the ambulance looking at each other for about twenty minutes. I almost started to cry, and all my buddy could say was God...God...over and over again. We looked at each other and burst out with a goofy stupid laugh. Certainly it was not funny, but that is what we did. When I returned back I told my boss about the call, and he very sympathetically looked up and said, "Oh hell, buck up, son, it can get worse." He was telling me the truth, not only could it get worse, it did get worse concerning ambulance calls over the years.


About a month later we had another call and ended up at the same hospital. One of the three nurses who had rescued the infant from my incompetent care came over to me and told me that the baby had lived, and said "You know you did a good job." I don't know to this day whether that comment was accurate, sympathetic, or whether she was teasing me. I know at the time I thought that I was in way over my head on this ambulance call but it taught me a valuable lesson - be prepared for anything in the funeral profession. The concept of "routine" in reality does not exist in this industry.


When I saw the little bundle being taken from the house my memories immediately went back to north Omaha. I know in the end that the medical team at the hospital did the real work, but I have always taken comfort in those kind words the nurse said to me.


Truthfully the ambulance experience made me a better human being, and improved my skills as a funeral professional. In the end if funeral directors are not sensitive, tender, and aware of the fragilities of human life, what do we have left?


Anyways, that's one old undertaker's opinion.


Todd W. Van Beck is one of the funeral profession's most prolific authors and presenters. From simple staff development at the smallest funeral home to clergy seminars to keynote addresses at the largest of gatherings, Mr. Van Beck tailors each presentation to suit any occasion. He is currently manager of Forest Hill Funeral Home and Cemeteries in Memphis, Tenn. For more information or to contact Mr. Van Beck visit his new web site at www.toddvanbeck.com.


Article sourced from Funeral Home and Cemetery News for January 2013, reproduced in its entirety with permission.

Bulletin Board

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Sunset Hills Funeral Home

Bellevue, Wash. 

Sunset Hills Funeral Home is currently seeking an experienced licensed Funeral Director with embalming license preferred. The ideal candidate will possess the appropriate experience and talents to exceed the individual wishes of every family while contributing to the growth of the funeral home. The successful candidate will be well-groomed, energetic, compassionate and committed to service excellence and our high execution standards. All candidates should possess a minimum of the following: 

  • A thorough knowledge and background in all facets of funeral service
  • A demonstrated confidence and ability to execute flawless service
  • Acute attention to detail with emphasis on innovation and creativity
  • Associate's or Bachelor's Degree and ability for licensure in Washington state within one year
  • A demonstrated history of providing customer service that exceeds expectations

Interested parties submitting resumes should contact Paul Friden, Location Manager at Sunset Hills. Email your letter of interest and current resume to paul.friden@dignitymemorial.com. All applicants are subject to a thorough background check and drug screening prior to hire date. Resumes will be accepted until the position is filled. 

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Evergreen Memorial Gardens,

Funeral Chapel and Crematory

Vancouver, Wash. 

Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Vancouver, WA is a well-established leader in our profession for over 60 years. 


We are in need of a caring, experienced individual with strong communication skills who works well in a team setting. This person will interact directly with families during their time of need and will be responsible for creating and maintaining a premier level of family satisfaction.


Must be licensed as both a Funeral Director and Embalmer in Washington State. Two (2) years experience is preferred. The successful candidate will start work immediately. 

  • Full-time career opportunity
  • Competitive Compensation Package
  • Excellent benefits
  • Profit Sharing Plan


For immediate consideration please e-mail your resume to Daniel Serres: daniel@evergreenmemorialgardens.com or call 360-892-6060.

Lead Sales Position

Sunset Memorial Gardens

Richland, Wash. 

Richland Cemeteries, a well-established leader in Cemetery and Funeral profession, is in need of a self-motivated, caring individual that is willing to be trained for advancement in our sales department.


        Full-time career opportunity

        High income potential


        Excellent benefits

        Leads provided

        Flexible hours

        Local travel

        Comprehensive Training

        Complete support staff


If you have strong communication skills & dynamic personality and a Life Insurance License please e-mail resume to: mike@richlandcemeteries.com 


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.

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 



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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

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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.

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