Chairman of CMS Mid-Atlantic Offers Advise on Cemetery Contracts

A married couple, who are in their 90s, discovered that a prepaid crypt that they purchased in 1977 did not include the entombment fees in their contract.  The couple made their final payment on the contract in 1982.  They found out that they would need to pay additional fees when the cemetery contacted them to update their records.

The cemetery’s copy of contract has a stamp that states “DOES NOT INCLUDE FEE FOR ENTOMBMENT SERVICE,” while the purchaser’s copy is missing the stamp.  The cemetery said that an “authorized” contract was later mailed to the customer with the stamped notification.  The contract also refers to the rules and regulations that are posted in their lobby, which states that entombment is not included.

The couple’s dilemma recently appeared in a Star Ledger article.  The Star Ledger reached out to Bernard “Buzzy” Stoecklein, chairman of CMS Mid-Atlantic, who has helped their readers before without disclosing the name of the cemetery in question.

He said the contract in all cemetery records should be identical to what the family was given.

“Because the contract in the situation you’re talking about has a stamp on it that’s different than what the family has in its file, it leads to misunderstandings and questions,” he said. “While the contract is moot to the subject of (entombments), that doesn’t say the counselor maybe said it included everything, which led the family to think it included everything.”

Stoecklein said it’s unusual for a cemetery’s contract to include a stamp about an entombment fee. Typically; all copies of contracts are the same and if there is a modification; the change should be initialed by all parties.

“Why didn’t the stamp appear on all the copies of the contract?” he said. “I would ask the cemetery to demonstrate that all contracts were stamped back at the office, and to call families to see if their contracts were stamped or not.” If this was the practice; the family might find relief in the cemetery’s posture. Nonetheless, some further explanation is likely required.

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