Advocacy

 

 

Legislative Reports & Updates

March 8, 2021

Please see the information below regarding recent regulatory changes that became effective for the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers for Chapter 20 (Regulations Governing the Practice of Funeral Services) and Chapter 30 (Regulations for Preneed Planning). This information will be sent out to all funeral licensees this evening and posted to the Board’s website; please feel free to share with your members.

Please contact me with any questions or if you encounter any difficulty with the links.

Sincerely,
Corie Tillman Wolf

Corie E. Tillman Wolf, J.D.
Executive Director
Boards of Funeral Directors and Embalmers,
Physical Therapy, and Long-Term Care Administrators
(804) 367-4424 office
(804) 418-2020
corie.wolf@dhp.virginia.gov

virginia_board_of_funeral_march2021_regulatory_announcement

March 3, 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 28th, 2021

2021.02.28_vfda-weekly-report

February 19, 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 19th, 2021

2021-02-19-vfda-weekly-report

February 17, 2021

Virginia Funeral Directors Association
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 12th, 2021

vfda-021221-weekly-report

February 12, 2021

Next of Kin Legislation Update

Good Day Members. Hopefully all of our members have been following the 2021 General Assembly Session and the progress of VFDA’s Legislative Agenda. I want to draw your attention to HB2005 – Delegate Sickles; Regarding Next of Kin for Disposition. This is the VFDA Next of Kin bill. We are facing a very strong challenge from the Association of Independent Funeral Homes of Virginia. That association is opposed to changing this law. I want to give you a quick “boil down.”

CURRENT LAW: Ambiguous and could keep the family’s decision making out of their hands.
In simple terms, the current code provides everyone an equal share or claim to a decedent.

The Code of Virginia Reads: “Next of Kin” means any of the following persons, regardless of the relationship to the decedent: any person designated to make arrangements for the disposition of the decedent’s remains upon his death pursuant to § 54.1-2825, the legal spouse, child aged 18 years or older, parent of a decedent aged 18 years or older, custodial parent or noncustodial parent of a decedent younger than 18 years of age, siblings over 18 years of age, guardian of minor child, guardian of minor siblings, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, maternal siblings over 18 years of age and paternal siblings over 18 years of age, or any other relative in the descending order of blood relationship.”

The IFHV describes this as being “Flexible” or providing “Flexibility.”
What they really mean is THEY have flexibility to choose. The funeral home should never be able to choose one next of kin over another. However, setting that aside, the following is an example of what the current Code of Virginia would allow:

Your parent is visiting a sibling on the opposite side of the state. Your parent dies unexpectedly. The sibling, trying to be helpful arranges for direct cremation at their local funeral home. You parent has expressed their wishes were to be buried next to a pre-deceased spouse.

Under the current law, the sibling would have equal right to make such a decision, even with a spouse or multiple other child(ren) surviving.

HB2005: A consumer protection bill and raises the bar for professionalism of funeral service providers

Makes very clear the priority of next of kin – mirrors the Wills, Trusts and Fiduciary Code

  • Giving the right to make final arrangements to the appropriate next of kin at the appropriate stage of the process
  • Removing the funeral home from making the decision of who the rightful next of kin is
  • Will reduce court action
  • Provides remedy for disagreement between multiple next of kin in a particular priority level
  • Multiple siblings
  • Multiple children
  • This will reduce court action

Establishes clear forfeiture process by priority next of kin

  • If a person chooses not to make the final arrangements, but is the person who has the priority

Establishes a variety of ways to attempt to contact with next of kin such as at last known address, telephone number, email address, and any known social media accounts are considered a reasonable inquiry made in good faith

  • Many people do not have landlines and make “calls” through social media platforms

NO law can cover every variable where the human condition exists, but this bill can make sure that the appropriate family members have the opportunity to make the decision; choose not to make the decision; and keeps the funeral home from choosing one next of kin over another.

HB2005 also provides for other situations that have not been satisfactorily addressed in current CODE:

Clarifies that when a married couple is legally separated, the surviving separated spouse, loses their right of disposition

  • We have all been in situations where a dispute has arisen from a surviving spouse who feels the right of disposition is still theirs, as they are still married. No longer would that be the case. Or perhaps the situation where there are multiple children who do not agree.

Provides for the majority of children who are in agreement to have the right to make arrangements

  • We have also seen times where a dispute has arisen amongst the entire family. This law gives explanation as to what course of action the funeral home may take while the dispute is settled in court.

HB2005 mirrors the Wills, Trusts and Fiduciaries order of decent, and is much like the Virginia Department of Health, which has a strict list as to who can and who cannot get a death certificate.

32 other states across this nation have the full Next of Kin law implemented, why should we resist this change?

Please take the time to reach out to each of your Senators and Delegates. Be an advocate for our profession. Help your association maintain our strong position with the Virginia General Assembly and to move our legislative agenda forward.

Thanks,

Jay McIntyre


February 9, 2021
Virginia Funeral Directors Association 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report

for Week Ending February 5, 2021
vfda-020521-weekly-report

 

Legislative Alerts


January 18, 2021Manager of Record Legislation

VFDA Members:

SB 1424 Funeral service establishments; manager of record

SB 1424 will be in committee Wednesday, January 20th. Please contact committee members below asking them to support this bill. Their names are linked to their contact information.

Barker (Chair)
Ruff, Locke
Vogel
Ebbin
Reeves
McPike
Dunnavant
Mason
Boysko
Stuart
Pillion
Bell
Hashmi
Kiggans

Talking Points:

The Emergency Regulations, which went into effect this January 14th created an unanticipated consequence. It allows an individual that is licensed as a Funeral Director only to become the Manager of Record and oversee an establishment that is offering embalming of deceased humans without any knowledge or practical experience of the embalming procedure. The Administrative Code dictates that a Manager of Record “shall be fully accountable for the operation of the establishment as it pertains to the laws and regulations governing the practice of funeral services…”

Senate Bill 1424 ensures that a Manager of Record for a funeral service establishment that does perform or offer embalming services to the families they serve is well trained and experienced to manage a situation following an embalming, such as purging, for example. There are some funeral service companies that have a “central embalming facility” that bodies are sent to for embalming before they come back to the funeral home where the funeral services will occur. It is a must to have Manager of Record who is appropriately trained and experienced to handle any situation related to the operations of a funeral service establishment.

Senate Bill1424 establishes that a person licensed as a funeral director may become a Manager of Record for funeral service establishments that do not offer or provide a cost of embalming on the mandated “General Price List.”

Senate Bill 1424 also recognizes that original funeral director licensees from the 1970’s were allowed to continue becoming Managers of Record and so exempts these long-time – albeit fewer than a dozen – funeral licensees who today are still Managers of record. Senate Bill 1424 does not seek to diminish the life’s work of these fine funeral directors.

Remember to thank them for their time and to support this bill.


January 13, 2021

HB 2116: Contact your legislator and ask them to support!

Dear VFDA Members:

This is great news from the Virginia General Assembly. Delegate Martha Mugler has filed HB 2116. This is an important bill that we have been wanting this past year!

HB 2116 Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency.

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency. Provides that in any case in which the Governor has declared a state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat, funeral service licensees shall be considered essential workers and shall be included in any group afforded priority with regard to (i) access to personal protective equipment and (ii) administration of any vaccination against such communicable disease of public health threat during such emergency. The bill contains an emergency clause.

View Full Text

This bill is in the early stages and has not been assigned a committee, but the VFDA asks that members and district members contact your legislators and ask them to support this bill.

Tell your story and what you have encountered over the last year!


December 14, 2020

Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers

Dear VFDA Members,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for continuing to do the important and sacred work of serving the communities of Virginia. To say this year has been challenging is an understatement, and I have seen firsthand your resilience, innovation and determination to honor the deceased and provide closure for their loved ones throughout this global public health crisis.

Over the past year, we have partnered with the National Funeral Directors Association to make progress at a national level to gain support and secure accommodations for our industry. But there is still work to be done here in Virginia to help the funeral profession during this pandemic.

Our colleagues continue to face significant challenges in getting valuable resources and support and many firms cannot carry out their duty to serve the grieving families of Virginia due to restrictive limitations in place. Specifically, limitations that do not leave space for honoring descendants in a non-religious service or ceremony.

That is why I ask you for your support in helping with an important initiative we are working on here at the VFDA.

In our most recent letter to Governor Northam, our association implored him to make funeral directors a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. But we can no longer wait and see. Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers.

Please download this template letter (Microsoft Word format) you can sign and send to the Governor’s office stating our case for being formally recognized as essential healthcare workers. You may include a note about a challenging time you experienced on the job this year if you would like, or you can simply sign it and drop it in the mail.

It is our hope that standing together and showing up as a united profession will make the needle move in our favor for this designation.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. The VFDA exists to support you in your important work.

Sincerely,

Lacy Whittaker
Executive Director


December 7, 2020

Can You Afford a 37% Tax Increase?

Dear VFDA Members:

NFDA needs your voice to avoid a “surprise” tax on small businesses that took advantage of COVID-19 loans from the federal government!

As many of you know, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year were a lifeline for many small businesses, including funeral homes.

The concept of the PPP loans was simple: if a qualifying small business used a federally-guaranteed loan to pay their employees and cover certain non-payroll expenses, the loan would be forgiven. Congress included a provision in the CARES Act stating that any portion of a PPP loan that was forgiven would be excluded from gross income for tax purposes.

In spite of Congress’ clear intent, the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-32 that reversed this ruling and turned a tax-free loan forgiveness into taxable income! This could result in a surprise tax increase of up to 37% on small businesses when they file their taxes in 2020.

With the potential for additional financial harm to small businesses, the recent IRS Revenue Ruling 2020-27 states that expenses funded through a PPP loan are not deductible for 2020 if the taxpayer expects their loan to be forgiven, regardless of whether an application for forgiveness has been submitted.

While Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed their displeasure with the recent IRS notice and ruling, America’s small businesses need them to take action by passing legislation to address the tax treatment of PPP loan forgiveness.

According to the Small Business Administration, about 5.2 million small businesses – including funeral homes – received $525 billion in PPP loan funds during the pandemic, enabling them to pay their employees and keep their doors open. Without action by Congress, the IRS’s recent actions could mean even more small businesses would be forced to permanently close, putting millions of people out of work and causing further damage to the economy.

Take Action
You have successfully helped us move important policy issues forward during the pandemic. Most recently, your voice made a tremendous difference in our push to get the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine to prioritize funeral directors in their guidance to state and federal public health officials on the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine.

You can make a difference on this issue too!
Show your support for your colleagues and other small business owners, like yourself, by sending a message to your members of Congress asking them to pass legislation before the end of the year reversing the unfair steps taken by the IRS to change the tax treatment of PPP loans. Doing so will take just a few minutes of your time – we even have a pre-written message you can send.

Click here to get started!