CHICAGO – The regulations needed to implement the last piece of the Cemetery Oversight Act were recently adopted by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The new rules reflect changes in the Act adopted late last year by the General Assembly. Under the new rules, all cemeteries must obtain a license to operate a cemetery in Illinois or register as being fully or partially exempt from the Act. The law has already created a Consumer Bill of Rights that requires cemeteries to provide a standardized price list to consumers and to enter into signed contracts with consumers who purchase burial rights. Since 2011 Illinois cemeteries have been entering burial data into a statewide data base. To date, over 67,000 burials have been entered into the database.
“These rules strike a balance between protecting Illinois families who bury loved ones in our cemeteries and the economic stability of both large and small cemeteries,” said Brent E. Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation. “This regulatory framework will enable us to better protect consumers at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.”
Additionally, all cemetery managers and customer service personnel at licensed cemeteries will be required to apply for a license before January 1, 2013. In order to become licensed, applicants must pass a certification program and test to determine their knowledge of the industry. Cemetery managers, cemetery customer service employees, and all individuals who are 25% or more owners of a licensed cemetery must submit to a background check.
The new rules also detail the process by which cemeteries may apply for partial or full exemptions to the licensing requirement. Examples of cemeteries exempt from licensure include: family cemeteries, cemeteries under 3 acres, or cemeteries which have not had any burials within 10 years.
Partially exempt cemeteries must meet many of the requirements of licensed cemeteries and include publicly owned cemeteries, religious owned cemeteries, or cemeteries with fewer than 25 burials each of the last two years.
Consumers requesting information or wishing to make a complaint about a cemetery can call the Cemetery Consumer Helpline at 1-888-RLOVED1 (1-888-756-8331). Since 2010, the Department has handled over 250 consumer complaints.