Poul Lemasters, Esq., is a funeral director, embalmer, and death care attorney. He runs Lemasters Consulting, which specializes in the legal guidance of cemeteries, crematories, and funeral homes across America. His online store has you covered, from sessions to forms to charitable merch. Speaking of charitable, Poul also founded the Lemasters Coat Drive, which raised over $36,000 in 2016 and donated over 700 new coats, hats and gloves to those in need. Join us as we answer your questions, and learn how you can make smart, legal choices for your business.
Poul: Funeral director and embalmer, and also a lawyer. I basically created a company that works entirely in death care. I get to work with funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories all over the country.
Parting Pro: Wow, okay. Poul, what we wanted to do today at Parting Pro is to really address the top three questions that we’ve had, and to be able to do that during such a busy time of year, we thank you for your time. Let’s dive right in.
Poul: I can’t wait to hear them!
Parting Pro: Can a funeral home offer different GPLs, different general price lists? What can you tell us about that?
Poul: The idea of the second price list has always been a confusing one. But for the most part, and I had a recent conversation with some of the folks at the FTC, and also even in the seminar – and the idea is that the FTC has always said you can have a separate price list such as prices to a church or a veteran organization – however, they would also apply if you wanted it online. So I could have a set of prices for people who purchase everything online, and a separate set of prices if they actually came to my facility and met with me in person. So maybe I offer cremation, take for example. If you come in person and do everything, maybe it $5,000. But if you do it online, we might charge just $2,500. That’s okay and you’re allowed to do that so long as we’re two separate groups. The only recommendation that I would say to do if you have two separate prices is to make sure you reference on your price list that other prices may be available.
Parting Pro: Great recommendation there, thank you. Second question – lots of buzz about digital signatures, and if digital signatures are legal. What can you tell us about that?
Poul: Under federal law, and every state, has adopted the electronic signatures act. That means that any electronic signature has the full weight and authority, and is legally binding. Now, saying that, there are still some little caveats. For the most part, it’s absolutely fine and completely acceptable, but in the world of funeral and cremation, there are a couple of outliers. For example, New York has a written provision that says you still need the authorization form to be signed in person. For the most part, with any of your forms, you’re going to be fine unless you have a little twist. But it’s where we’re headed, and it’s completely acceptable.
Parting Pro: Good to get information on the outliers, as well as the new common standard, so thank you! Last question for today – digital forms, are they legal?
Poul: It’s another great question. Digital forms are fine – most of our forms that are written, we write them to be in person. So we write them as if we’re communicating and I’d say, “See this, read it,” and you’d sign it there. Digital forms themselves are fine, but you need to make sure that the wording represents that they aren’t in person. One example – identification. A lot of people are trying to do electronic identification via email via [software]. In our authorization forms, the wording might say that we have made a visual identification at the funeral home, et cetera – when in fact, maybe that isn’t exactly how they did it. They in fact did it via the computer. It’s fine, but you just need to make sure that the forms represent the actual process that is contemplated. Then you’re fine.
Parting Pro: You actually have packets of the forms. Can you tell us more about it?
Poul: I do. Every year I do what’s called my coat drive fund. It’s a non-profit 501C3, and we started it years ago. Every year it’s grown, we try to raise money and then we take the money we get and we buy brand new coats to distribute. Every year I get people to donate and it’s wonderful. The death care profession is amazing, but I hadn’t been able to really give them anything back. So I have people from Texas who ask, “Why would I help a cold kid in Ohio?” It makes sense, you could be nice, but if that isn’t enough, I created three packets of forms – one for a funeral home, one for a cemetery, and one for a crematory.
In those packets are all of the specialty forms you may need that you might not have had, or you’ve never updated. For example, in cremation, there is a model authorization form, a refrigeration log, a receipt of human remains, a receipt of cremated remains, recycling… There are all these forms that typically a business would need. We put it together and we ‘sell’ it for a $149 donation. The reason it’s a donation is that it’s non-profit, so you get to write off the $149 and the whole amount goes to the non-profit which helps us buy about 5 brand new coats, about $30 each. That’s what we do.
Parting Pro: Basically what you’re saying is that this holiday season, funeral directors and owners can actually do something for good, and also get something in return that will help their business?
Poul: Exactly. Trying to get and give.
Parting Pro: That’s super exciting, Poul! I love hearing about it. I don’t think I have any other questions for you, you’ve been such a resource to be able to join us today and answer the top three questions. I can’t wait to do maybe around two with you at a future date.
Poul: I would love to participate. Thanks for thinking of me, and thanks for having me!
Parting Pro: Absolutely, we’ll see you next time, Poul!
Show your holiday spirit this year, and click here for more information on the Lemasters Coat Drive!