CHICAGO – Six months after the Cemetery Oversight Act’s on-line database became active, more than 17,900 burials have been electronically recorded in the statewide database, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR) announced today. IDFPR estimates that nearly 75% of burials in the State are now being entered into the database. By creating the State’s first comprehensive burial records database, families will have a place to turn if they are unable to find the location of a loved one’s grave.
“One of the most rewarding outcomes of the Cemetery Oversight Database is the knowledge that this tool will be able to assist future generations in locating the final resting place of their loved ones and ancestors,” said Brent Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Governor Quinn signed the historic Cemetery Oversight Act last year to protect bereaved families coping with decisions about funerals, burials, and the long-term maintenance of their loved one’s gravesite. The law implemented many of the reforms and recommendations of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force, which was created by the Governor in response to the tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip.
“The database has enabled cemeteries that relied solely on paper records to upgrade to an electronic database at a reasonable cost,” said LuAnn Johnson, Executive Director of Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. Cemeteries entering data into the database pay an average of $1.80 per burial.
In March 2010, a new Consumer Bill of Rights took effect and established a consumer hotline (1-888-RLOVED1) within IDFPR to give grieving families a “one-stop-shop” for making complaints or asking questions regarding their legal rights. Since the law took effect, IDFPR has handled nearly 200 calls from consumers.
“Legislation passed last month by the Illinois Senate would eliminate many of the consumer protections we worked so hard to include in the Cemetery Oversight Act,” said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago), a chief proponent of cemetery reform. “It’s imperative that the focus of any future cemetery legislation be to make the law work better for consumers, not for cemetery management.”
The legislation passed by the Senate (SB 1853) would eliminate the Cemetery Oversight Database and would make IDFPR and the State’s Attorneys in each of Illinois’ 102 counties responsible for handling consumer complaints.
As a result of the Cemetery Oversight Act, all death care operations, including embalming, funeral services, and burials, are now overseen by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. IDFPR licenses more than one million professionals in nearly 100 industries and monitors financial institutions with more than $4 trillion in assets.