It was a very busy legislative session earlier this year with the passage of HB933. This combined cemetery and funeral bill helped clear up some areas of interpretation and also provided the consumer, cemetery and funeral home professionals with a better law in which to work from.
BE REMINDED THAT THESE CHANGES WENT INTO EFFECT ON JULY 1, 2012
There were five main points that impact the cemetery operator. They are:
* The cemetery owner will be able to store a memorial with a Bonded Memorial Company that
has an established memorial storage program in place.
* The cemetery owner now can invest the Preneed Merchandise Trust Account by following the laws of the Prudent Man Rule as established by the State of Georgia.
* Trusting on merchandise and services changes. The cemetery owner is required to place 35% of the Retail cost or 120% of the Wholesale cost, whichever is greater, into the Preneed Trust account. The 120% is the change. Also, burial service fees (opening/closing fees) can be trusted at 35% of Retail or 120% of Wholesale cost, whichever is greater
* The cemetery owner can now charge a Documentation, Administration Fee to each contract for burial rights, merchandise services, etc. This should be a reasonable fee charged by the cemetery owner.
* The State is not requiring the cemetery owner to submit a Release Letter to remove funds from the Preneed Merchandise Trust account. The Annual Report that is submitted before April 1 each year will be confirmation for the State. Due to budget restraints and personnel at the State level this was enacted.