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WEST VIRGINIA CEMETERY ASSOCIATION LEGISLATION CONSIDERED FOR PASSAGE

 CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to protect their customers who purchase cemetery merchandise goods and services in advance of need, the West Virginia Cemetery Association has researched and developed legislative language to be considered for passage during the current session of the West Virginia Legislature, it was announced today.
 Their bill, Senate Bill 407, was introduced and co-sponsored last week by Senate President Keith Burdette and Sens. Thais Blatnik, Charles Felton, Bill Sharpe, Keith Wagner and Donna Boley. The association cites the need for new regulations to protect pre-need cemetery merchandise consumers from the practices of non-cemeterian-type speculators and investors who recently have entered the business.
 The West Virginia Cemetery Association is a non-profit organization of cemetery owners interested in preserving the integrity of its members' operations, and protecting their customers from fraud and deceptive practices.
 The heart of the proposed legislation is the establishment of mandatory pre-need merchandise trust funds. This legislation will require all cemetery companies selling merchandise or services to place an amount of money equal to 40 percent of the receipts from the sale into a merchandise trust account. Funds would then be disbursed from the trust account upon the performance of the pre-need burial contract. These requirements are designed to protect purchasers of pre-need merchandise goods and services. This is a replication of the Virginia law.
 According to association spokesman Dave Stump, "Pre-arrangement programs have saved association members' customers hundreds of dollars over what they would have spent for cemetery property at the time of death. Since the inception of perpetual cemeteries in the state, thousands of families have participated in pre-arrangement programs without a problem.
 These pre-arrangement programs have enabled the acceleration of the grounds development and led to the offering of additional burial options for the consumers in the perpetual care cemeteries. Without these pre-arrangement programs, many or our state's most beautiful and well-maintained cemeteries would not exist," Stump said.
 The West Virginia Cemetery Association, Inc. was founded in 1950, and provides its members with training and education in the areas of administration, operations, maintenance and the marketing of cemetery property and services. The association is a participant of the National Cemetery Consumer Service Counsel which is a nationwide complaint resolution organization.
 -0- 3/23/93
 /EDITORS:
 FACT SHEET
 Senate Bill 407
 Pre-Need Burial Goods and Related Services
 Chapter 35 - Article 5B
 The West Virginia Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization of cemetery owners interested in preserving the integrity of its members' operations, and protecting their consumers from fraud and deceptive practices, have determined the need for legislation governing pre-need merchandise goods and related contracts. Therefore, the members of the association have researched and developed legislative language to be considered for passage during the current 71st Session of the West Virginia Legislature.
 Senate Bill 407 will:
 -- Replicate Virginia law;
 -- Establish definitions of industry terms;
 -- Establish a registration fee not to exceed $400;
 -- Require cemetery companies to deposit 40 percent of receipts from the sales of merchandise or services into a trust fund when the delivery thereof will be delayed more than 120 days from the initial payment;
 -- Establish specific language used in pre-need burial contracts to protect customers;
 -- Establish identification requirements for trust accounts;
 -- Provide trustee authorization/regulations for income and disbursements of pre-need trust accounts;
 -- Provide criteria for disbursement of trust funds for performance of contracts; and
 -- Establish record keeping and independent auditing requirements./
 /CONTACT: Joe W. Gollehon of Charles Ryan Associates, 304-342-0161, for West Virginia Cemetery Association; or John D. Stump of West Virginia Cemetery Association, 304-863-6011/


CO: West Virginia Cemetery Association ST: West Virginia IN: SU:

CD-KC -- PG003 -- 8661 03/23/93 12:13 EST
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Date:Mar 23, 1993
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