With the death of funeral consumer advocate R. Brian Burkhardt, Mark DeSteffan has stepped in to fill the void. He has created a new blog called Funeral Consumer Advocate. He points out that the blog, unlike many others, will not cater to funeral directors.
“Of course, I know funeral directors will take a look,” says DeSteffan. “I would even go so far to predict that they will not like what they see. My goal is to focus on the consumers. Brian Burkhardt was a champion for funeral consumers and his vision should continue.”
Mark DeSteffan is a licensed funeral director & embalmer. After many years in the funeral profession, including funeral home and cemetery management, he became disenchanted with the many tactics and ethics abuses he witnessed, while working in the corporate funeral arena.
In 2009, he made the decision to pursue other ventures and devote special attention to consumer protection and education. After speaking out against the funeral industry, for safety reasons, he prefers to keep his location private.
He is also the creator of The Business of Death, a revealing and on-going memoir series, where he pulls back the curtin and shares industry truths and memories from his own experiences.
In our fast-paced world of drive-thru burger joints and drive-thru banks, it is not uncommon to wonder what’s next. One California funeral home is working hard to make life (or death) a little easier by offering drive-thru casket viewing.
Yes, at the Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton, south of Los Angeles, it is possible to view the deceased resting in a casket display window while cruising past in your car, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
“It’s a unique feature that sets us aside from other funeral parlors,” said owner Peggy Scott Adams.
“You can come by after work, you don’t need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects,” Scott Adams explained. “It’s a convenience thing.”
Although the Times reported a handful of drive-thru funeral parlors were known to operate in other parts of the US, this was believed to be the first in southern California, home of cars and convenience.
The paper also pointed out some additional pluses for those who favor mobile mourning: seniors do not have to leave their cars, families can avoid hosting a formal viewing and the disabled can roll past in their wheelchairs.
State regulators have filed a lawsuit against one of California’s largest funeral trusts, claiming that millions of dollars worth of customers’ money has been “misused, misspent, and mismanaged,” according to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, names the California Master Trust as the defendant. It seeks to take over control of the trust, oust the current directors, and force those currently in control to repay $14 million in missing trust funds.
The trust is one of the nation’s largest administrators of pre-need funeral plans — funeral services paid for while the buyer is still alive. Those plans are sold by individual funeral homes, with the payments held by the trust.
Administrators illegally used those payments to pay more than $4 million in kickbacks to funeral homes in order to make sure their plans were sold to customers, according to the lawsuit.
Several children’s graves may be mismarked and their families may not even know about it. The problem is at the Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, owned by Service Corporation International (SCI Hispana), in southeast Houston.
This all came to light because of one Houston-area family. They started asking probing questions about their own loved ones gravesite. They’d been visiting it for years. They planned to place a headstone on the grave.
Their plans suddenly changed when they say a cemetery employee told them they’ve been visiting the wrong grave all this time. Farrell was furious.
“Where I was sitting was someone else’s little girl,” LeAnne Farrell said.
When we first asked general manager John Krasnick questions, he wasn’t eager to answer them.
Farrell says she was told her son’s grave is marked correctly but that several other children’s graves may not be.