Of all of the wrongs that can be done to a person over the course of their lifetime, cemetery fraud has to be one of the most dastardly. In most cases, people find out that they have been victimized after already having suffered the loss of a loved one, and learning that their remains have been treated with disregard reopens old wounds and grief. Cemetery fraud can represent a number of different practices on the part of funeral homes and cemetery management companies that are not only hurtful, but also illegal and unethical. There are certain steps that you can take to ensure that your loved one is not the victim of cemetery fraud, and other steps that can be taken if you suspect that a wrong has already been done. The compassionate attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz are here to help you protect yourself, as well as to provide legal guidance for you and your family in case you have been victimized.
There are a number of different ways that unethical funeral homes and cemetery owners commit cemetery fraud. Here are four of the most common, and ways to protect yourself:
- Casket fraud – Though caskets come in a variety of styles, colors and prices, funeral home directors will frequently only offer the most expensive models, claiming that less expensive versions need to be ordered or aren’t available. The truth is that caskets are easily available and can be delivered in a very short time. If a funeral home director is trying to sell you something more expensive then you want, insist on seeing a catalogue. Don’t let a funeral home employee take advantage of your grief and unfamiliarity.
- Unnecessary expenses – Cemetery owners and funeral homes are required to have lists available for all their goods and services, for all of their gaskets, and for all of their different burial options. Not every service is necessary or required by law, but they may try to tell you that they are. They are also required to use a casket that you purchase elsewhere if you request, without charging extra.
- Prepaid funeral expenses – People who plan ahead often think that they are doing their families a favor by prepaying for funeral expenses. Unfortunately, in many cases the money is gone when it is needed, though the funeral homes are required by law to place the money in escrow. Make sure that you read the terms of your contract and work with a reputable cemetery operator.
- Unethical cemeteries frequently sell plots that are already full, or try to fit in more bodies then a space will allow. Visit the cemetery ahead of time, look at the condition of the plots, and measure them to make sure that enough is allowed. Also, return to visit the grave to ensure that it is still in good shape and that your records match with the cemetery’s.
Those who are grieving lost loved ones should not have to fight with unethical cemetery owners or funeral home operators. If you have discovered that your loved one has been treated disrespectfully or you have been a victim of cemetery fraud, contact our office today for immediate legal help from the attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz.