§ 10-14-4. Registration of dealers and cemeteries; perpetual care cemeteries trust funds; nonperpetual care cemeteries; preneed escrow accounts.

CODE OF GEORGIA

Title 10. COMMERCE AND TRADE

Chapter 14. GEORGIA CEMETERY AND FUNERAL SERVICES ACT OF 2000

Current through 2019 Chapter 321

§ 10-14-4. Registration of dealers and cemeteries; perpetual care cemeteries trust funds; nonperpetual care cemeteries; preneed escrow accounts

(a)
(1) Unless exempt under this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to offer for sale or to sell any cemetery burial rights, mausoleum interment rights, columbarium inurnment rights, grave spaces, or other physical locations for the final disposition of human remains in this state unless such person is registered as or employed by and acting on behalf of and under the direction of a person registered as a cemetery owner pursuant to this Code section.
(2) Unless exempt under this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to offer for sale or sell burial or funeral merchandise or burial services in this state unless such person is registered as or employed by and acting on behalf of and under the direction of a person registered as a cemetery owner under this Code section, a funeral director under Chapter 18 of Title 43, or a burial or funeral merchandise dealer under this Code section.
(3) Unless exempt under this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to offer for sale or to sell any preneed burial or funeral merchandise or preneed burial services in this state unless such person is registered as a preneed dealer or preneed sales agent pursuant to this Code section.
(4) It shall be unlawful for any person to offer for sale or to sell any funeral services in this state unless such person is licensed as a funeral director under the provisions of Chapter 18 of Title 43.
(b)
(1) Every person desiring to be a registered cemetery owner shall file with the Secretary of State a separate registration application for each cemetery owned in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State, executed and duly verified under oath by the applicant, if the applicant is an individual, or by an executive officer or general partner, if the applicant is a corporation or partnership, or by an individual of similar authority, if the applicant is some other entity, and containing the following information:
(A) The name, mailing address, and telephone number of the applicant, which for the purposes of this Code section shall be the legal owner of the land upon which the cemetery is located;
(B) The location and, if different from the information submitted for subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the mailing address and telephone number of the cemetery;
(C) The location of all records of the applicant which relate to the cemetery;
(D) If the applicant is not a natural person, the names of the president, secretary, and registered agent if the applicant is a corporation, of each general partner if the applicant is a partnership, or of individuals of similar authority if the applicant is some other entity and their respective addresses and telephone numbers; the name and address of each person who owns 10 percent or more of any class of ownership interest in the applicant and the percentage of such interest; and the date of formation and the jurisdiction of organization of the applicant;
(E) A copy of cemetery rules and regulations, a certified copy of a certificate of existence or certificate of authority issued in accordance with Code Section 14-2-128 if the applicant is a corporation, and any amendments to such documents or any substantially equivalent documents. Any such document once filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to this chapter shall be deemed to be on file and incorporated into any subsequent renewal or filing of such cemetery registration; provided, however, that each applicant and registrant is under a continuing duty to update such filing and to notify the Secretary of State regarding any changes or amendments to the articles of incorporation, bylaws, cemetery rules and regulations, or substantially equivalent documents, and provided, further, that any applicant or registrant shall furnish to the Secretary of State additional copies of any such document upon request;
(F) A description of any judgment or pending litigation to which the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant is a party and which involves the operation of the cemetery or could materially affect the business or assets of the applicant;
(G) Whether the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant owns any other entities in Georgia regulated by this chapter and, if so, the location, mailing address, telephone number, and type of registration of such other entities;
(H) A consent to service of process meeting the requirements of Code Section 10-14-24 for actions brought by the State of Georgia;
(I) The name and business address of each individual employed, appointed, or authorized by the applicant to offer for sale or to sell any grave lots, burial rights, burial or funeral merchandise, or burial services on behalf of the cemetery;
(J) A balance sheet of the applicant dated as of the end of the most recent fiscal year and in no event dated more than 15 months prior to the date of filing, which the Secretary of State shall treat as confidential and not open to public inspection;
(K) Evidence satisfactory to the Secretary of State that the applicant owns for the cemetery unencumbered fee simple title to contiguous land in the minimum acreage required by this chapter or by rules issued by the Secretary of State in accordance with this chapter, properly zoned for use as a cemetery, and dedicated for such use, and a copy of a plat of survey thereto, provided that nothing herein shall prohibit the encumbrance of the undeveloped portion of cemetery property for the purpose of securing debt incurred for the purpose of developing or improving such property;
(L) Evidence satisfactory to the Secretary of State that the applicant has recorded, in the public land records of the county in which the land described in subparagraph (K) of this paragraph is located, a notice that contains the following language:

"NOTICE

The property described herein shall not be sold, conveyed, leased, mortgaged, or encumbered except as provided by the prior written approval of the Secretary of State, as provided in the Georgia Cemetery and Funeral Services Act of 2000."

Such notice shall have been clearly printed in boldface type of not less than ten points and may be included on the face of the deed of conveyance to the applicant or may be contained in a separate recorded instrument that contains a legal description of the property.

(M) The name, address, location, and telephone number of the perpetual care trust account depository or depositories, the names of the accounts, and the account numbers;
(N) The name, address, and telephone number of each trustee;
(O) A copy of a perpetual care trust fund agreement executed by the applicant and accepted by the trustee, and evidence satisfactory to the Secretary of State of the deposit into such account of the amount of the initial required deposit, the trust agreement being conditioned only upon issuance of a certificate of registration;
(P) Such other information and documents as the Secretary of State may require by rule; and
(Q) A filing fee of $100.00.
(2) Every person desiring to be a registered preneed dealer, other than a person already licensed by the Board of Funeral Service as a funeral services director in full and continuous charge or an owner of a cemetery licensed by the State Board of Cemeterians as a cemeterian, shall file with the Secretary of State a registration application in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State, executed and duly verified under oath by the applicant, if the applicant is an individual, or by an executive officer or general partner, if the applicant is a corporation or partnership, or by an individual of similar authority, if the applicant is some other entity, and containing the following information:
(A) The name of the applicant;
(B) The location, mailing address, and telephone number of the applicant's principal business location in Georgia and the same information for other locations where business is conducted, together with any trade names associated with each location;
(C) All locations of the records of the applicant which relate to preneed sales in Georgia;
(D) If the applicant is not a natural person, the names of the president, secretary, and registered agent if the applicant is a corporation, of each general partner if the applicant is a partnership, or of individuals of similar authority, if the applicant is some other entity and their respective addresses and telephone numbers; the name and address of each person who owns 10 percent or more of any class of ownership interest in the applicant and the percentage of such interest; and the date of formation and the jurisdiction of organization of the applicant;
(E) A certified copy of a certificate of existence or certificate of authority issued in accordance with Code Section 14-2-128 if the applicant is a corporation;
(F) A description of any judgment or pending litigation to which the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant is a party and which involves the operation of the applicant's preneed business in Georgia or which could materially affect the business or assets of the applicant;
(G) Whether the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant owns any other entities in Georgia regulated by this chapter and, if so, the location, mailing address, telephone number, and type of registration of such other entities;
(H) A consent to service of process meeting the requirements of Code Section 10-14-24 for actions brought by the State of Georgia;
(I) A list of each individual employed, appointed, or authorized by the applicant to offer for sale or to sell any grave lots, burial rights, burial or funeral merchandise, or burial services on behalf of the applicant;
(J) A balance sheet of the applicant dated as of the end of the most recent fiscal year and in no event dated more than 15 months prior to the date of filing, which the Secretary of State shall treat as confidential and not open to public inspection;
(K) The name, address, location, and telephone number of the preneed trust or escrow account depository or depositories, the names of the accounts, and the account numbers;
(L) An executed copy of the trust or escrow agreement required by Code Section 10-14-7 or 10-14-7.1 ;
(M) The name, address, and telephone number of the trust or escrow agent;
(N) Such other information and documents as the Secretary of State may require by rule; and
(O) A filing fee of $250.00.

The provisions of this paragraph notwithstanding, a person licensed by the Board of Funeral Service as a funeral services director in full and continuous charge or an owner of a cemetery licensed by the State Board of Cemeterians as a cemeterian shall not be required to separately register as a preneed dealer provided that the requirements of subparagraphs (A) through (N) of this paragraph are satisfied.

(3) Every person desiring to be a registered burial or funeral merchandise dealer shall file with the Secretary of State a registration application in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State, executed and duly verified under oath by the applicant, if an individual, or by an executive officer or general partner, if the applicant is a corporation or partnership, or by an individual of similar authority, if the applicant is some other entity, and containing the following information:
(A) The name of the applicant;
(B) The location, mailing address, and telephone number of the applicant's principal business location in Georgia and the same information for other locations where business is conducted, together with any trade names associated with each location;
(C) All locations of the records of the applicant which relate to funeral or burial merchandise sales in Georgia;
(D) If the applicant is not a natural person, the names of the president, secretary, and registered agent if the applicant is a corporation, of each general partner if the applicant is a partnership, or of individuals of similar authority if the applicant is some other entity and their respective addresses and telephone numbers; the name and address of each person who owns 10 percent or more of any class of ownership interest in the applicant and the percentage of such interest; and the date of formation and the jurisdiction of organization of the applicant;
(E) A certified copy of a certificate of existence or certificate of authority issued in accordance with Code Section 14-2-128 if the applicant is a corporation;
(F) A description of any judgment or pending litigation to which the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant is a party and which involves the operation of the applicant's funeral or burial merchandise business in Georgia or which could materially affect the business or assets of the applicant;
(G) Whether the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant owns any other entities in Georgia regulated by this chapter and, if so, the location, mailing address, telephone number, and type of registration of such other entities;
(H) A consent to service of process meeting the requirements of Code Section 10-14-24 for actions brought by the State of Georgia;
(I) The name and business address of each individual employed, appointed, or authorized by the applicant to offer for sale or to sell any burial or funeral merchandise on behalf of the applicant;
(J) A balance sheet of the applicant dated as of the end of the most recent fiscal year and in no event dated more than 15 months prior to the date of filing, which the Secretary of State shall treat as confidential and not open to public inspection;
(K) Such other information and documents as the Secretary of State may require by rule;
(L) A filing fee of $100.00; and
(M) A bond, if required by the rules and regulations of the Secretary of State.
(c) The Secretary of State may approve an application only after he or she has conducted an investigation of the applicant and determined that such applicant is qualified by character, experience, and financial responsibility to conduct the business for which the applicant is seeking registration in a legal and proper manner. A registration application filed under this Code section shall become effective upon the issuing of a certificate of registration by the Secretary of State or at such earlier time as the Secretary of State determines.
(d) Every registration under this subsection shall expire on the first day of August of each year. The registration must be renewed with the Secretary of State each year by the submission of a renewal application containing the information required in an application for initial registration to the extent that such information had not been included in an application or renewal application previously filed together with a sworn statement that all information not provided remains accurate. The filing fee for renewal of registration shall be $50.00 for each cemetery of cemetery owners, $100.00 for preneed dealers, and $50.00 for burial or funeral merchandise dealers.
(e) The Secretary of State, by rule, may provide for exceptions from registration for cemeteries when the Secretary of State determines that the public interest does not require registration, provided that such cemeteries are in existence on or before July 1, 2000, consist of less than 25 acres, and are operated by nonprofit entities.
(f) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in this Code section, the following shall be exempt from registration as a burial or funeral merchandise dealer:
(1) Any registered cemetery owner;
(2) The owner of any cemetery exempt from registration with respect to sales of burial or funeral merchandise sold for use at such cemetery;
(3) Any licensed funeral director;
(4) Any person providing interment and disinterment services exclusively at cemeteries exempt from registration;
(5) Any monument manufacturer or dealer which does not install monuments in cemeteries required to be registered by this Code section;
(6) Any person who does not offer for sale or sell burial or funeral services or merchandise to the general public; and
(7) Any registered preneed dealer.

In addition, the Secretary of State, by rule, may provide for other exceptions from registration.

(g)
(1) Any cemetery in operation on August 1, 1986 which offers perpetual care for some designated sections of its property but does not offer perpetual care to other designated sections shall be considered a perpetual care cemetery for purposes of this chapter. No cemetery formed or created on or after July 1, 2000, may fail to offer perpetual care for any part of such cemetery.
(2) Any nonperpetual care cemetery which was registered with the Secretary of State prior to August 1, 1986, may continue to be operated as such after that date and a renewal of such registration shall not be required.
(3) Any nonperpetual care cemetery which is shown to be of historical significance and is operated solely for historical nonprofit purposes shall be exempt from registration.
(4) Except as specifically authorized under paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, from and after August 1, 1986, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate or establish a nonperpetual care cemetery.

Cite as OCGA § 10-14-4

History. Amended by 2017 Ga. Laws 275, §10, eff. 5/9/2017.

Amended by 2012 Ga. Laws 637, §8, eff. 7/1/2012.