Where the merchandise purchased in advance of need is designed to withstand prolonged storage without deterioration, the seller or provider of the merchandise can furnish the purchaser with custody of these items by storing them and by providing a receipt for the merchandise that allows the purchaser to arrange delivery of the merchandise on request.
The use of life insurance and annuity policies, as an alternative to other funding vehicles for prearrangements, has developed into a specialty market whereby these policies contain features which permit the death benefit of the life insurance policy to increase during the lifetime of the insured. These increases, whether indexed or discretionary, are designed to keep pace with the rising cost of providing pre-selected cemetery and funeral merchandise and services at some unknown time in the future.
No cemetery is immune from acts of vandalism and other forms of desecration. Although vandalism may be typically committed by youths as a form of hooliganism, more serious acts of desecration are committed by satanic cults who engage in ritualistic grave robbing or otherwise defile an interment space.
The nature of contracting for cemetery and funeral merchandise and services on a preneed basis is different from most other consumer transactions because it involves paying for something today which isn't expected to be received for some period of time--perhaps decades. Therefore, it is important to have safeguards to protect the consumer's interests.
A cemetery endowment care trust fund is designed to ensure that income will always be available for the continued maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery, even when all the interment spaces are sold. The cemetery authority should not be permitted to withdraw the principal of the endowment care trust fund, but receives the income earned by the principal to offset maintenance expenses.
Many older cemeteries have used their undeveloped acreage and are exhausting their inventory of unsold interment spaces. Yet large numbers of interment spaces which were sold in previous decades remain unused and apparently abandoned by the interment right owners.
Zoning ordinances are developed and enforced under the local jurisdiction of cities, counties, towns, and villages. As a result, zoning requirements for cemetery usage can vary significantly from one local jurisdiction to another and courts will generally enforce such regulations unless they are clearly unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.
As part of two distinct industries, cemeteries and funeral establishments provide consumers with substantially different products and services. Therefore, the combined operation of a cemetery and funeral home cannot result in monopolistic practices.
In today's complex society, the issue of who has the right to control the final disposition of a deceased human being has become the subject of controversy. Written instruments of various types, including wills and durable powers of attorney, are being used to establish the right of an individual to control his or her final disposition, and are now indispensable tools for individuals to pre-plan for their own funeral and cemetery needs.
Funeral homes should implement a reliable system for the identification of human remains to give consumers assurance that safeguards are in place to minimize the incidence of misidentification. Further, in the case of a disinterment, or if a flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster disturbs the place of interment, the identification and reinterment of the human remains would be facilitated by this system.
The specifics associated with cremation are issues of concern to the funeral service industry who performs this vital service and to the consuming public. Therefore, the consumer should have a clear understanding of what is entailed during the cremation process.
One method to protect purchasers of prepaid contracts from financial losses while allowing sufficient proceeds to meet the seller's expenses is through establishment of a statewide consumer guarantee fund.