Tag Archives: funeral director

Former Funeral Director charged with Defrauding-YourFuneralGuy

17 Jan
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral director Pete...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

A former Funeral Director in Michigan has been charged with defrauding Customers. In this case The director not only hurt the families that bought preneed or prepaid policies he also hurt the former business owner of the Funeral Home.

This serves as a warning to those who want to exit the funeral industry and the need to check out who and how they dispose of their business.

Mr. Prochnow had purchased the business portion of the Bennett Funeral Home on S. Dixie Hwy. just south of Albain Rd. in 2006 from Darrell Bennett, who retired with his wife to Florida after selling the business.
But Mr. Bennett, now 78 years old, said monthly payments were not paid and he discovered other payments for services were ignored. Over the past several years, he said he personally lost a total of about $325,000 to bad business. When he returned from Florida this summer to take over operations, the company was in shambles.
Mr. Bennett said the building was not properly cared for — there wasn’t hot water — and the vehicles, including the hearse and limousine, were being repossessed though he had paid them off 10 to 15 years ago.
“I can never imagine anything of this magnitude ever happening,” Mr. Bennett said. “It’s put me in the biggest hole I’ve ever been in my lifetime.”
In addition to accusations of stealing money from Mr. Bennett, Mr. Prochnow has been charged with accepting prepaid funeral payments and using the money for his own benefit.

via www.monroenews.com

This shows that just taking a bank note may not be the best strategy, may not be the best strategy in exiting the funeral business- in an age of Funeral industry decline, when profits are down and cremation is on the rise.

Funeral industry| Funeral News | funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

This article presents one more reason as to why one should not purchase funeral preneed or aprepaid funeral.

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The Worst Funeral Article of 2010-Your Funeral Guy

6 Jan
Here is what I would call the worst Funeral post of 2010. This comes from Funeral Director Todd Van Beck, a Funeral Guru of sorts. In His post he refers to the FUNERAL CONSUMER As the  the Archie’s and Edith Bunkers of the World.
Todd Van Beck has been a well known Funeral Director for decades but the comments below show a high  level of arrogance and great disrespect for the common folk.
Todd Van Beck's picture

Wed, 06/09/2010 – 09:32 — Todd Van Beck

This is going to be a short and sweet writing.  The 2008 Gallup Poll results which polled the average American concerning the subject of professional ethics in careers is out, and once again funeral directors have made the top list.  I think, if memory serves, funeral directors have made this prestigious list for now over a decade.

ia www.iccfa.com

It is OK to be proud of Funeral Directors the good ones. But the ones that lack ethics, the ones that steal 100’s of millions dollars of the Folks Preneed Money or the guy I used to work with who bought a great car at a reduced price from a widow so she could pay for her husbands funeral…

More from the Article:.

“The overall results of the Gallup Poll, which really focus in getting the opinions of the common ordinary folk, you know the Archie and Edith Bunkers of the world, who are the substance of the funeral profession, have concluded that Nurses literally shine in the public’s ethics opinion and Bankers have fallen from ethical grace in a big way – surprise of surprises.

Anyway here are the top ethical careers for 2008, in rank order:

1.      Nurses

2.      Pharmacists

3.      High School teachers

4.      Medical doctors

5.      Police officers

6.      Clergy

7.      Funeral Directors

8.      Accountants”

via www.iccfa.com

Todd Van Beck has given us a substandard blog post by calling Funeral Directors “Ethical”via www.yourfuneralguy.com


Funeral Industry, Funeral News, Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

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Funeral Webcasting grows in 2010-YourFuneralGuy

30 Dec
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral resident in t...
Computer being operated at a Funeral Home-Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Funeral Webcasting an innovation in 2009 has grown dramatically in 2010. This  is quite  interesting because some funeral homes are offering this service free.

A Video of a funeral can easily be posted on a FREE blog site such as blogger.com or wordpress.com.

Funeral Webcasting does provide an excellent service for those who cannot attend the funeral of a loved one

Funeral webcasts are one of the newest services offered by an industry increasingly focused on memory instead of mourning. With computer access easy to come by and cheaper than a plane ticket, webcasting is increasingly popular option at Chicago-area funeral homes.

“It’s not like it used to be, where you were raised in a community, lived in a community and died in a community,” said John Haben, owner of the Haben Funeral Home and Crematory in Skokie. “Families are spread throughout the world, and the Internet is one way of bringing them together.”

Funerals in the Chicago area have been witnessed electronically by friends and family members across North America, in Central America and as far away as the Philippines. Last month, the funeral of Cpl. Chad Young, a soldier from Rochester, Ill., who was killed in action, was streamed live to his unit in Afghanistan.

“It made us feel very good that they got to see it,” his mother, Brett, said. “I’m glad it was possible.”

In most cases, the funeral service is recorded on a high-definition camera, uploaded to the Internet and then either streamed live or posted later. The online funerals are generally kept private, with links to the webcasts sent to selected e-mail addresses.

Most funeral homes work with companies that provide the technical expertise, equipment and software to put together the webcasts.

All that’s needed to view the funeral are a computer with an Internet connection and an e-mail address, said Greg Bolan, owner of Delgado Funeral Chapels in Joliet.

Many local funeral homes charge $100 to $300 for the service, while Bolan does it for free.

via articles.chicagotribune.com

Funeral Industry|Funeral News| Funeral Blog by your funeral guy

Some though find this not needed with the recording of videos on cell phones. When broadcasting video live becomes available on cell phones  this service may be quickly outdated.

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Top Three Funeral Books in 2010-YourFuneralGuy

29 Dec

There have been three great funeral books published in 2010 that can help with Funerals and your funeral cost. These book state the principles presented in Rest in Peace: Insider Tips to the Low Cost  Less Stress Funeral. The First one is A Good Goodbye by Gail Rubin a new funeral book from the USA.

A Good Goodbye will help readers design a meaningful, memorable, healing end-of-life ritual, reducing costs and confusion while avoiding family discord and stress added to grief.

A Good Goodbye will be especially helpful for interfaith families who might not know much about their own religious traditions, let alone their partner’s. The religious funeral traditions chapter can help prompt interfaith conversations.

via agoodgoodbye.com

The second one is Death for Beginners by Karen Jones. This is an effective Funeral planner and Digital Funeral Planner.

Death for Beginners makes funeral planning smart,thrifty, stress-free and funny

Written in a time-saving “grab, read, do and get on with your life” bullet-point format, Death for Beginners lets readers quickly grasp essential information, decide what issues are most important to them, and further explore these topics.

via deathforbeginners.com

The Third is from Across The Pond  The Good Funeral Guide by Charles Cowling

The Good Funeral Guide will tell you everything you need to know and everything you need to do when someone dies.

It will inform you speedily, efficiently, matter-of-factly and thoroughly. It will enable you to:

  • decide how the body of the person who has died will be cared for and who will do it
  • make informed choices about products and services
  • get best value for money
  • read reviews of best funeral directors
  • create a meaningful and memorable funeral ceremony
  • create an end-of-life plan
  • acquire some background information about death and dying, and find out where to learn more.

Above all, The Good Funeral Guide will put you in charge.

via www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk

Funeral Industry|Funeral News Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

Your Funeral Guy Is not financially vested-  with the authors or publishers of these books.(has no financial involvement with the three 2010 books.)

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2010 Saw the Rise of the Part Time(USA) Funeral Director-YourFuneralGuy

27 Dec
Shop window of a funeral director in France
Picture of  Cremation URNs Image via Wikipedia

Funeral Homes as a small business(USA) in 2010 saw the rise of the part time Funeral Director. With the recent  (Obama’) administration not so subtle opposition to small business,  the funeral industry decline, the rise of cremation and folks wanting to pay less for funerals  this is an expected result.

The administration  in the United States may change their position on this( small business). But for 2011 at least the rise of the part time funeral director will continue.

Over the Year I have spoken to many funeral home owners who are avoiding paying benefits(Health mainly) by using part time funeral directors.

This is consistent with documented  rise of health care rates, at the end of 2010 and the slow  recovery from the great recession.

The great Baby Boomer Die off( death trend) is not likely to occur in 2011)barring a  major national disaster or Armageddon scenario.

The use of Part Time Funeral Directors will grow in 2011 alongside the trend to lower funeral cost

Funeral Industry| Funeral News| Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

This is an original your funeral guy post, the opinion of Your Funeral Guy, and not based on scientific data.

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Cremation Product-Legacy-Cards Interview-YourFuneralGuy

24 Dec

Legacy Cards is a product that can help with your grief when you choose cremation  It allows you to Carry ashes of

legacy cards

your loved one conveniently in your purse or wallet.

Here is Your Funeral Guy’s Interview, with the Founder Ken Meyer.

Legacy-Cards Interview

YOUR FUNERALGUY:How did you get the Idea of Legacy-Cards Cremation Memorial?

KEN MEYER: My dad had passed away on 12/31/1996 and his ashes were passed around the family but never found it’s way to me.  I had the simple paper memorial card with Jesus on the front and the 23rd Pslam on the back.  But over time, it withered.  Several year later at his sister’s wake (my aunt Doris) , I met some family out in the foyer. We discussed various topics but I noticed the glass curio cabinet displayed   a large urn, a keepsake, and piece of jewerly and I commented that didn’t seem many options for cremation  memorial.  I suggested, “they” take some ashes and place them in the paper memorial card similar to what I had for my Dad and Aunt Doris. .  It was quickly dismissed among family members, but the thought  lingered.   Months later while completing my Marketing course,  I needed to  develop a marketing  plan for a car wash or a mini market.  I told the professor I had a silly idea of my own and he said it could be ficticious. Weeks later I received my A+ but he called me to tell me I had a real product that I needed to research and develop.  This was circa 2005.

YOUR FUNERALGUY:How much research did you do before further embarking on it’s development ?

Tons !   The internet was a huge help in identifying typical products.  I put in dozens of hours on the US Patent website reading Patents & tinkering with identifying words to broaden my search criteria.   Once I new nothing was similar, I hired a mechanical engineer and developed the first of several designs and had them prototyped. Once in hand, I requested 15 minutes of time from local funeral director monthly meetings to gauge interest and feasibility of design. I used their suggestion’s  &  tweaked my designs to  secure the product  to it’s final design.  I also developed an online survey with 72% positive feedback. Asked 10 of dozens of friends, colleagues, family, and sought out marketing & advertising professionals for tips and potential pitfalls to avoid. What I now totally enjoy is randomly showing my Legacy-Card to people, and allowing them to hold my Dad’s Legacy card and comment. After they say it’s nice because their kind and don’t want to hurt my feelings, I tell them my Dad’s ashes on inside the card.  Watching their facial features is priceless and THEN I get their full attention.   The conversation becomes more involved and they repeatedly tell me this is great.  That alone, makes me feel good.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY:Have you attended any Local, Regional or National functions displaying Legacy-cards ?

KEN MEYER:Yes, I attended the Philadelphia NFDA convention 3 years ago to see what type of Cremation products were available and any competition that may have been similar.  I also rented a booth at the 2008 NY State Funeral Directors Association at Lake George N.Y where it was 1st unveiled and introduced to the public. . I handed out close to 200 samples and had everyones interest.  Unfortunately, the packing was still in design stage during the convention. I did however earn my first few sales come from the convention.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY: What Legacy-Cards features  are your favorite and how do they differ from other in market product that serve other clients.

KEN MEYER -Good question.   Actually there are several great feature’s  I could talk about.  One of the best is mobility.    To think you can carry a reminder of you loved one with you 24 hours a day, to open your wallet and purse and to be reminded each day of the Love & Happiness you once shared.  In the mobile society we all live in today, a Legacy-cards can be sent via regular mail anywhere in the world. This is key as many family and friends  are spread apart in different regions  and due to perhaps economic restraints, unable to make the Wake or service.   Legacy- Cards can be handed out to many friends and family and not limited to keepsake urns.  The only limitation is the amount of ashes of the deceased.   It’s a convenience memorials, it  fits  snugly in the credit card slot of a man’s wallet or a women’s purse. It can be displayed on mantel, a dresser or amour for those who may feel uncomfortable holding someone’s ashes that close.

Another use for my product is a line we call “ My Pet At Peace”.  Identical in design but with varying designs targeted to serve the Pet market.   We’ve had pet owners have the ashes of their beloved pet placed as well as whisker’s while a few decided not to have anything other than the picture as a memorial. The product’s no matter how their used have a deep emotional meaning to these people.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY: What is the card made from?

Ken Meyer: A Legacy Card is made from the durable plastic called Poly-carbonate. This type of molecular plastic is used in the design of Bullet Proof vests.  It’s strong , durable, tough but light in weigh. The label’s themselves are made from similar plastic, durable, will not fade, ship, crack over time, come in a satin finish so it cannot scratch.  The base card comes standard in White and Black but can be customize to any hue one can think of.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY: What Liability are there to the funeral director and homes in distributing  Legacy-Cards.

Ken Meyer :Absolutely NONE

As mentioned above, the card is extremely durable and it flexible enough to withstand any bending or twisting  over time. The Base Card has a rim in which the labels fit tighly into and becomes flush with the rim once in place.  The label has a very aggresive adhesive that over time cannot be removed.  No rain, snow, sleet or an accidental dip in the washer  will penetrate the label or contents of the Legacy-Cards   Liability of the product  is minimize 100%. If someone attempted to pull  or peal the label away from the base card, it would prove a clear case of tampering and the Funeral director or home can not be held liable.

YOUR FUNERALGUYHow long does it take to assemble a Legacy-Card once out of it’s packaging.

KEN-MEYER An expert, – 1 minute, a novice – 2 minutes.  A novice automatically becomes an expert after their first assembly, it’s that easy.   We all heard the coined phrase “time is Money” If you put 4 cards together in 5 minutes, and based on a retail cost of $24.99 per Legacy-Card, that’s a $100.00 sale , not bad for 5 minutes work.

YOUR FUNERALGUY:How Long have you been producing this product?

KEN MEYER-Since 2007, the product is 100% American made and manufactured in Rochester, New York and the label designed and created in Orleans County, NY.  Rochester N.Y. is the Print Capitol of the world, with XEROX, Kodak, and all major print businesses represented.  The best of the best are located in that region. I wanted nothing less.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY:What has been the response to this innovation?

KEN MEYER:Over the last 3 years the people and funeral homes have loved the product.  Some funeral homes are more progressive than other, but after a while, they laggards are witnessing the added value it brings to their overall business ROI. . It’s in my opinion that the largest group of people now are the baby boomer’s, with the leading edge of the Boomer’s coming of age and retiring, there’s 15 more years of boomer’s right behind them looking for and wanting something different as a meaningful memorial.  The product today is in it’s infancy and basically Legacy-cards is a grass roots effort and sales come by words of mouth.  What we enjoy is the excitement & joy it brings to those who love the product.  We all know that if we purchase something we like, we typically tell several people, then they tell several people and from there it exponentially takes on it’s own growth.


YOUR FUNERAL GUY Are there Funeral Corporations that handle your product?

Yes, Right now, Matthews Cremation has shown an interest in Legacy-Cards for their annual catalog of products.

Many Progressive local and regional funeral homes do carry our product but we’re not at a national level just yet.

At this time YOUR FUNERAL GUY is not affiliated with legacy- cards.

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Your Funeral Guy in Dow Jones Newswires

22 Dec
Dow Jones Newswires product line logo
Image via Wikipedia
Your Funeral Guy has been Featured in the Dow Jones NEWSWIRE  Prepaid Funerals Like Digging Your Own Grave 

December 2, 2010 9:16 a.m. EST


R. Brian Burkhardt is a funeral director in Illinois and Virginia who writes a blog called “Your Funeral Guy.”

It’s filled with handy consumer tips, as is his book, “Rest in Peace, Insider’s Look at the Low Cost Less Stress Funeral.”

Burkhardt also covers the funeral news:

“Mom fakes daughter’s funeral.”

“Father sues after son’s body falls out of casket.”

“Corpses to appear on cigarette packages.”

And, “Unclaimed cremated remains: A growing problem.”

One of the biggest stories on the funeral beat these days involves a St. Louis, Mo., company called National Prearranged Services Inc. and its related businesses operating in several states from Illinois and Ohio to Tennessee and Texas.

Federal prosecutors last week unveiled a 50-count indictment burying six controlling officials in assorted criminal charges: money laundering, conspiracy and wire, bank, mail and insurance fraud.

Defendants are Doug Cassity, 64; his son, Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; and David Wulf, 58.

The indictment alleges they took as much as $600 million that should have gone into trusts and life-insurance policies to cover as many as 150,000 funerals.

“White-out was the main tool,” Burkhardt said. “It’s sounds blastedly simple, but that’s what they did.”

Indeed, one of the many tricks alleged in the federal indictment is altering documents with correction fluid.

Money that should have gone into trusts or to pay life-insurance premiums for the funeral plans were diverted to pay for business investments, luxury homes and jewelry, the Feds allege. A Ponzi scheme for the dead?

Toni Weirauch, special agent in charge of IRS-criminal investigations in St. Louis, said his office “is committed to investigating individuals who allegedly use their businesses as personal piggy banks.”

The losses will go to state insurance guarantee associations, plan purchasers and funeral homes.

Connie James of James and Gahr Mortuaries in St. James, Mo., said her family-owned funeral business put all of its prepaid funeral funds with the company.

A state fund likely will get stuck with most of the tab for the prepaid services her company has contracted to provide, but not all of it. Some of the losses will be hers.

“You just pray every day that you’re going to be here tomorrow,” James said.

She has a name for defendant Doug Cassity, who went to federal prison in the early 1980s for charges stemming from his investment club.

“He is the Bernie Madoff of Missouri,” she said.

She wonders how so blatant an alleged fraud could have gone on for so long in an industry that is supposed to be regulated. Cassity’s criminal past, and issues with underfunded trusts dating back to the 1990s, didn’t set off the alarms until the shortfall was enormous.

“$600 million. That’s a lot of damn funerals,” James said.

National Prearranged Services sold folks on the idea that they could pay today’s prices for tomorrow’s funeral services. Say you put $5,000 down now, and if the funeral you want costs $15,000 due to future inflation, no problem.

“Any product that says, ‘We will cover you no matter how much your prices increase’ is too good to be true,” said Scott Gilligan, general counsel of the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, Wisc.

“That should have been everybody’s first clue,” he said, “because nobody can do that.”

Burkhardt said he’s been warning consumers not to buy prepaid funeral plans for years. “It’s better to a get term life insurance policy and apply that money to the funeral,” he said.

He also says the scale of the National Prearranged Services case shows how easily prepaid funeral funds are diverted, and how long it can take regulators to do something about it.

“Every week, somebody misappropriates pre-need funds, and every two to three weeks somebody gets caught,” Burkhardt said.

“I have had a funeral director tell me, “When I can’t meet my payroll, I just borrow from the pre-need fund.” That’s fraud. But in their minds, it’s kind of their money.”

Burkhardt said he suspects business will go on as usual, despite the news he covers on his blog. Reading up on prearranged funeral plans isn’t something folks always do before they buy.

“People don’t want to talk about death,” he said. “You almost have to trick your mind to think about it. That’s why people buy these plans.”

–(Al’s Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. He can be reached at 212-416-2617 or by email at al.lewis@dowjones.com, or on his blog at tellittoal.com.)

(We invite readers to send us comments on this or other financial news topics. Please comment on Al Lewis’ blog at http://tellittoal.newswires-americas.com/. We reserve the right to edit and publish your comments along with your name; we reserve the right not to publish reader comments.)

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Funeral Industry| Funeral News| Funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

Due to my stint in ICU and hospitalization it took some time to get this article up.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY HAS BEEN Featured in the Dow Jones News Wires. Your Funeral Guy is quoted but other opinions are mentioned.

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