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February 2014

Dear Members,

PA Funeral Directors Association Applauds Court Ruling: Consumer Protections Upheld in Commonwealth's Funeral Laws the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rendered its decision on February 19, declaring that Pennsylvania's funeral laws are constitutional. The Court of Appeals decision reversed all of the District Court's rulings with the exception of the use of trade names by funeral homes.

This is a huge win for the consumers of Pennsylvania. This ruling will insure their continued safety and protection. It upholds important requirements including: 100% trusting of pre-paid funds, regular inspection of funeral homes, limiting ownership by large conglomerates and eliminating the conflict of interest of paying commissions. PFDA applauds the Court's decision and is grateful that they recognized the importance of having laws in place to protect the Commonwealth's citizens.

In all, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision addressed nearly a dozen items of statutory provisions the Plaintiffs challenged; ranging from restrictions on the capacity of unlicensed individuals and requirements that each establishment have a full-time supervisor to requiring funeral establishments to have a preparation room and rules governing the trusting of monies advanced for pre-need contracts.

Clarification on License Renewals The State Board provided the following guidance in response to our recent questions on license renewals:

1) If the renewal application indicates that the Funeral Director did not complete the six (6) hours of required continuing education, the Board will not renew the license. The Board will retain the application and fee in its system until it receives the required continuing education certificates.

2) For Funeral Directors who do not submit a renewal application by February 1, 2014 because he or she did not complete the required continuing education credits, the online renewal application will be available until March 1, 2014. After March 1, the Funeral Director will have to contact the State Board Office for a reactivation application and complete the process with hard copies.

3) In situations where a Funeral Director who falsely indicates completion of the required continuing education credits is audited, the Funeral Director must comply with the audit request. The continuing education materials, to the extent there are any, will be evaluated for compliance with the Funeral Directors Law and accompanying regulations.

Section 11(a) (1) of the Funeral Directors Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against a licensee who engaged in the practice of fraud or deceit in obtaining a license or attempting to obtain a license. Funeral Directors who refuse or fail to comply with an audit request are referred to the Professional Conduct Office for further action it deems appropriate.
Source: State Board of Funeral Directors.

Issuing Form 1099 to Cash Advance Payees Several years ago, the IRS was asked whether a funeral home was responsible to issue a Form 1099 with regard to cash advance payees. Relying on Regulation 1.6041-1(e), the IRS issued a private letter ruling (PLR 200106032) that found that generally, funeral homes do not perform management or oversight functions with regard to services performed by cash advance payees.

In that regard the IRS noted that the funeral home "neither directs nor inspects the quality of the work provided." It also does not select the providers, negotiate the price for services or have the discretion to withhold payment for unsatisfactory performances. As such, the IRS found that the funeral home was not obligated to issue Form 1099 to third-party providers who receive cash advance payments from the funeral home.

Since the regulation has not changed since the private letter ruling on cash advances was issued, it appears that the private letter ruling is still applicable to the question of whether funeral homes have to issue Form 1099 to cash advance payees. As long as the funeral home is not exercising supervisory control over the third-party service provider, the IRS private letter ruling would indicate that the funeral home does not have to issue a Form 1099 to a cash advance payee. Source: Reprinted with permission from the January 30, 2014 edition of the Memorial Business Journal. A publication of the National Funeral Directors Association.

Caskets or Urns for Veterans No one seems to know where funeral directors can obtain a casket or urn for burial for veterans with no known next of kin, and when sufficient resources are not available to furnish a casket or urn for burial in a national cemetery. PFDA legal staff along with several of our members has made numerous phone calls to veterans' organizations, national cemeteries, among others and, although they knew about the legislation, they could not tell us where to obtain a casket or urn. Should you obtain any information in this regard, please let us know. This was one of the key provisions in the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012 which went into effect on January 10, 2014, aimed at ensuring that the nation's military veterans receive an honorable and dignified burial at a national cemetery, even if they have no family to pay for it.

Act 6 (HB 261) This new law signed recently by the Governor further provides for civil penalties assessed against licensees by adding that the boards and commissions shall have the power to collect all fees, costs, fines and penalties assessed as a result of a disciplinary proceeding before a licensing board or commission; and to deny, suspend or revoke a license, for failure to pay any fine or fee assessed as a result of disciplinary proceedings before a licensing board. Act 6 is effective on March 13, 2014. This comes into play whenever a funeral director is assessed a civil penalty for a violation of the laws governing funeral directing and he or she does not pay their fine. Under Act 6, their license can be suspended, revoked or renewal denied if there are unpaid fines.

National Database Launched to Identify Unclaimed Cremated Remains Michael Neal, a funeral director in Washington, PA, has launched a website www.ForgottenAshes.com to help with identifying those unclaimed cremated remains and reuniting them with their loved ones. His website currently has information for more than 1,000 people whose unclaimed cremated remains are awaiting reunification with their families. Forgotten Ashes contains the names of the cremated as well as possible survivors, when available, and allows for the easy sharing of that information through social networks. Any funeral home can register to list their own inventory of forgotten ashes, which will be available at any time until they wish to remove them or until they have been claimed. For more information go to the website or email Michael Neal at UnclaimedAshes@gmail.com.

Can an employee moonlight while on leave under FMLA? Can you terminate the employee? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has no provisions prohibiting an employee from working another job while on leave from your workplace. However, this depends on whether your firm has a policy that would forbid employees from working secondary jobs. FMLA regulations state that if an employer has a uniformly applied policy governing outside or supplemental employment, such a policy may continue to apply to an employee while on FMLA leave. If an employee is not in compliance with an established policy forbidding secondary employment, termination of employment is an option. Source: The SESCO Report February 2014

Maryland Courtesy Cards The Maryland Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors authorizes out of state holders of Maryland courtesy cards to remove a body from a residence and a hospital. An out of state transporter does not need a Maryland courtesy card to remove a body from a funeral home, the Board reports. The Board passed a motion in November 2013 to allow Courtesy Card holders to obtain a Maryland State Mortician's license for a fee of $100 and a passing score on the law exam by April 2014. Source: The Regulatory Review January/February 2014 edition.

FTC Cites Funeral Homes The Federal Trade Commission charged a Montgomery, Alabama funeral home and its owners with violating the FTC's Funeral Rule for failure, on at least two occasions, to provide a casket price list at the time and manner required by the Funeral Rule for in-person discussions of funeral arrangements. The FTC was conducting an on-site undercover shopping. They offered the first-time offenders an opportunity to resolve the alleged violations by participating in the three-year FROP program run by NFDA, which is designed to increase compliance as an alternative to a civil penalty, but they declined. A fine for one Funeral Rule violation is $16,000.

A New York funeral home and its funeral director/owner agreed to pay a $32,000 civil penalty to settle FTC undercover shopping charges of allegedly failing to provide consumers an itemized General Price List at the beginning of an in-person discussion about funeral arrangements; and failure to provide a Casket Price List and Outer Burial Container Price List at the beginning of these discussions, as the rule requires. They declined to participate in the FROP program.

According to the FTC, "[T]he triggering event for giving out the GPL is a face-to-face meeting. The face-to-face meeting can occur anywhere, not just at the funeral home. For example, you must give out a General Price List even if the discussion of prices or arrangements takes place in the family's home or while removing the deceased from a hospital or nursing home. You should tell your employees to carry extra price lists with them."

FTC: Scammers Hit New Low by Sending Fake "Funeral Notices" Scammers are sending bogus emails with the subject line "funeral notification" or "passing of your friend." The message appears to be from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences and invites you to click on a link for more information about the upcoming "celebration of your friend's life service." But instead of sending you to the funeral home's website, the link downloads malware to your computer.

The perpetrators of this scam are doing all they can to make their emails seem legitimate. Under no circumstances should recipients click the link; their computer will become infected with malware. In "Fake funeral notice can be deadly – for your computer," the FTC's new blog post about this scam, consumers will find tips to reduce the risk of downloading unwanted malware and spyware. Visit www.ftc.gov more information.

Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association (ACFDA) recently installed officers for 2014. The newly installed officers are: President Stephanie Doriguzzi (Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, Turtle Creek); Vice-President James E. Maksin (John F. Slater Funeral Home Inc., Brentwood); Secretary Patrick J. Konieczny (Thomas-Little Funeral Service, Inc., Imperial); and Treasurer Kevin R. Dieterle (Readshaw Funeral Home, Inc., Carrick).

Also installed to begin three year terms on the Board of Trustees, were Rosemarie Carfagna Au (Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., Shadyside); Daniel F. Bekavac, Jr. (Daniel F. Bekavac Funeral Home & Crematory, McKeesport); and William Brian Schleifer (Maloy-Schleifer Funeral Home, Duquesne). Mr. Schleifer was installed by his father, who is a past president of ACFDA and the PFDA. Continuing on the Board of Trustees are JohnPaul Bertucci (Giunta-Bertucci Funeral Home, Arnold); Patrick M. McGowan (William F. Conroy Funeral Home, Sheraden); Stephen D. Slater (Stephen D. Slater Funeral Home, Jefferson Hills); Paul J. Urban (Savolskis-Wasik-Glenn Funeral Home, Munhall); and Immediate Past President, Anthony J. Bekavac (Paul E. Bekavac Funeral Home, Elizabeth).

Please Make Sure That PFDA Has Your Current Email Address on File to ensure that we can get information to you in a timely manner that could affect your business operation. Also, make sure that when your email address changes to update the PFDA, so we can continue to keep you informed of important business-related matters. Your email address will be used for official association business only and is never sold to third parties.

Please send an email to sue@pfda.org with your full name in the subject line and include the name of your funeral home and your current email address in the message. Or complete the enclosed Request for Email Address form and return it to PFDA via fax at 717-545-7360.

How to Obtain a Signature from Recipients When Shipping Cremated Remains via Priority Mail Express The question has been raised by funeral directors about the requirement by the U. S. Postal Service to ship cremated remains via Priority Mail Express and how to ensure that upon delivery that a signature is obtained. According to the postal service website, there are two Priority Mail Express labels - Label 11-B or Label 11-F.

The wording for requesting or waiving a signature, will depend on the version of the label used. Most Post Offices should have labels that were updated in January 2012. However, labels prior to that date may still be used. Labels produced prior to January 2012 will have a "waiver of signature" box to check, while the updated labels will have a "signature required" box to check.
For more information go to http://pe.usps.com/text/qsg300/Q110.htm.

Federated Reports Averages for December A regular adult funeral, including a casket and professional services, sold for an average cost of $6,793.68 in December 2013. That is a 1.86% increase over the same period in 2012, according to Federated Funeral Directors of America. Meanwhile, the average outer container sale was $1,312.50, a 3% increase over the 2012 figure.


In Memoriam

Margery Ann Fleming, 72, of State College, died February 1, 2014 at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. She was the wife of the PFDA President F. Glenn Fleming, owner and operator of the Koch Funeral Home in State College.

B. Valeria "Verla" Heisey, 99, formerly of Quentin, died on January 30, 2014 at Pleasant View Retirement Community. She was the mother of Richard Heisey, owner and operator of the
Richard H. Heisey Funeral Home in Lititz.

Olin W. "Ace" Bracken, Jr., 90, died on January 19, 2014 at the Sherman Hospice Home in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Bracken's son, O. William Bracken is the owner and operator of the Bracken Funeral Home, Inc. in Corry.

Mildred S. Mann, 90, died on January 13, 2014. She was the widow of Sam Mann, the former owner of the Mann Funeral Home in East Greenville. The funeral home is now owned and operated by her son-in-law, Carl Slonaker, F. S. and her daughter, Sheri (Mann) Slonaker.

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