JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) - As we continue the search for answers about the cemetery which suddenly closed with no official reason or notice posted for customers, we are learning more about basic cemetery guidelines in the State of Alabama. Meanwhile we are still waiting to hear from the cemetery’s owner or owners about what the plan is there and what it means for those families who are concerned about it.
According to the Alabama Department of Insurance website:
“All cemeteries in Alabama are endowment care cemeteries if they have charged fees for interment rights after April 30, 2002, except for cemeteries owned or operated by government entities and religious institutions. Endowment care cemeteries must establish and fund an endowment care trust fund with and held by a bank, trust company, savings and loan association, or a board of trustee consisting of at least three bonded board members. The endowment care fund must be held intact, except for income from the trust that may be used exclusively for cemetery maintenance. As of May 1, 2007, all endowment care cemeteries, including newly organized cemeteries, must have at least $25,000 in the endowment care trust fund. Code Sections of the Alabama Preneed Funeral and Cemetery Act applicable to Endowment Care Cemeteries are Sections 27-17A-45 thru 27-17A-56.
Each endowment care cemetery must submit an Annual Report of Endowment Care Trust Fund. This report along with a statement of the activities of the Endowment Care Trust must be submitted to the Commissioner with 90 days of the close of each calendar year. The report requires disclosure of the amount held in trust at the end of both the current and prior year.”
The ALDOI also explains the requirements for preneed vendors in the state.
”According to the terms of the Alabama Preneed Funeral and Cemetery Act (APFCA), persons selling a “preneed contract” for funeral services, funeral merchandise, cemetery merchandise, and cemetery services on and after May 1, 2002, must first obtain a certificate of authority from the Commissioner of Insurance. All individuals who offer preneed contracts to the public or who execute contracts on behalf of a certificate holder must be registered with the Commissioner as Preneed Sales Agents. All cemetery authorities charging fees for interment rights, except cemeteries owned or operated by governments and religious institutions, must fund and maintain an endowment care trust in accordance with the APFCA and file an annual endowment care report with the Commissioner within 90 days of the close of each calendar year.”
ALDOI Governmental Relations Manager Mark Fowler says there are no records on file with the Alabama Department of Insurance relating to George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens.
“George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens have never held a certificate of authority to sell preneed cemetery merchandise and services. The company has never filed an annual endowment care trust report,” said Fowler.
We have been trying to reach a representative of the cemetery who might be able to explain where it falls in relation to these guidelines and speak to any of the concerns from worried stakeholders.
We will continue to update this story as we uncover new information. There is a town hall meeting set for Thursday Oct. 3rd at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of Jackson Olin High School, 1300 Avenue F. in Birmingham according to State Representative Juandalynn Givan, (D) Alabama’s 60th District.
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