SB 416 Modifies provisions related to cemeteries
Sponsor: Dempsey Co-Sponsor(s)
LR Number: 1863S.01I Fiscal Note: 1863-01
Committee: Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government
Last Action: 3/25/2009 - SCS Voted Do Pass S Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee (1863S.02C) Journal Page:
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2009

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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 416 - This act allows the governing body of a city, town, village or county to submit a proposal to the voters of such city, town village or county allowing the municipality to impose a property tax to fund cemetery maintenance. The tax authorized under this act shall not exceed one fourth of one cent per one hundred dollars assessed valuation and shall not become effective until approved by the voters of the city, town village or county.

This act also modifies certain laws regarding cemeteries.

Current law allows the division of professional registration to seek an injunction against certain unlicensed cemetery operators in the county in which the conduct occurred or in which the defendant resides. This act allows the division to also bring suit in Cole County.

Each contract sold by a cemetery operator for cemetery services and items such as grave lots, markers, and tombstones shall meet certain requirements. If these requirements are not met, the contract is voidable by the purchaser.

Except for family burial grounds, individuals and public and private entities are required to notify the office of endowed care cemeteries of the name, location, and address of real estate used for the burial of human bodies.

Cemetery operators are exempted from the prearranged contract requirements of Chapter 436, RSMo.

Currently, cemetery operators are required to correct deficiencies in the funding of endowed care trust funds. This act also requires them to include interest of ten percent of the deficiency and specifies that deficiencies do not include deficiencies caused by the fluctuating value of investments.

The requirements of endowed care trust funds and escrow accounts are modified in several ways. Among other changes, the requirement that a financial institution who serves as the trustee of an endowed care trust be located in Missouri is removed. Cemetery operators have to provide the office of endowed care cemeteries with the name and address of the trustee and records custodian and update the office with any changes. The trust records shall be maintained in Missouri, or electronically accessible. Missouri law shall control all endowed care trust funds and such funds will be administered as charitable trusts and operated in accordance with certain trust requirements. Endowed care cemetery funds may also be held in an escrow account in Missouri. However, if the funds in the escrow account are over 350,000 dollars, in most cases they must be in an endowed care trust fund. Trustees and escrow agents shall consent in writing to Missouri jurisdiction and the supervision of the office of endowed care cemeteries.

Cemetery operators are required to notify the division of professional registration at least thirty days prior to ceasing to do business as a cemetery, selling the business assets of the cemetery, or selling a majority of its stock. If the division does not disapprove, the cemetery operator can continue to take such action. Anyone who sells a cemetery is required to put 15% of the money in escrow for at least six months, so that it can be determined whether any trust fund or escrow account of the former cemetery operator is deficient. If there are deficiencies, the buyer or the division may demand payment from the amount in escrow.

Cemetery operators who sell prearranged burial merchandise and services are required to deposit a portion of the purchase price in an escrow or trust account. These funds are maintained in this account until delivery of the property, performance of the services, or the contract is cancelled. These escrow arrangements and trusts must each meet certain requirements. Cemetery prearranged contracts entered into after August 28, 2009 can be cancelled within thirty days of receiving the executed contract for a full refund and at any time before the services or merchandise are provided, with exceptions, for the net amount of all payments made into the escrow account or trust.

The division is allowed to direct a trustee, financial institution, or escrow agent to suspend distributions from endowed care trust funds or escrow accounts, if the cemetery operator is not licensed or does not meet certain other requirements. The cemetery operator may appeal this suspension.

The act creates a crime for destroying, mutilating, disfiguring, defacing, injuring, or removing without authorization any human remains from a cemetery or burial ground.

Several provisions that previously applied to the city of St. Louis and allowed the sale of certain cemeteries owned by the city and applied to cemetery operators who purchased cemeteries from the city are now applied to all cities.

This act is similar to the Perfected version of Senate Bill 822 (2008), HCS/HB 945 (2009) and provisions of CCS/HCS/SB 296 (2009).