Raia: Legislation Requires Wider, Easier Distribution Of Cemetery Rules, Costs

June 27, 2006

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) today notified his constituents that the Assembly passed legislation written by Assemblyman Raia that would require detailed information about cemetery costs be more easily and widely distributed to individuals at their homes and cemetery offices.

“Most ideas for legislation begin locally and this is a perfect example. I was approached by a constituent, Elvira Hoffman, President of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of LI/NYC, with a request that we need to take advantage of technology to improve how we disclose information at cemeteries,” said Raia.

The measure, which was sponsored by John Flanagan in the state Senate, also passed and the bill will be sent to the governor for his signature into law.

According to the legislation, cemetery officials must make available to the public at their offices printed copies of the rules, regulations, charges and prices of plots and lots. The cost of the document to the public must be the same price incurred by the cemetery to make each copy or $4 per copy, whichever is less.

In addition, sales personnel and officials representing cemeteries must provide free copies of the documents if they visit prospective customers at their homes. The copies must be given to residents before discussions begin about the cemetery and its regulations.

The legislation includes a penalty provision that requires cemeteries to pay the state $25 for each proven violation.

Raia noted funeral homes in New York state for more than 20 years have been required to present consumers with a general price list as a way to protect individuals. However, cemeteries are only required to post the rules, regulations, charges and prices in their offices, he added.

“Consumers are generally poorly informed about their rights relative to cemeteries because most people buy interment rights just once in their lives,” explained Raia. “They would be far better served by requiring that sales people hand out the rules, regulations, charges and prices of lots to the public, so people are able to compare between cemeteries before entering into a contract.

“We, as legislators, go to Albany to represent the concerns of our constituents, and I am very pleased I could secure passage of this legislation that was actually initiated by a resident of my Assembly district.”