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Cemetery Renewal  & Reinstatement Fees Change

Cemetery Board Rules and Regulations have been amended with changes to renewal and reinstatement fees received between August 1, 2024, and July 31, 2026. For more details, visit https://register.dls.virginia.gov/details.aspx?id=11136.

In other news from DPOR's Cemetery Board, there's been a 35% decrease in companies, a 20% decrease in cemeteries, and a 49% decrease in sales personnel over the past decade.

For more on what's happening with the Cemetery Board, please CLICK HERE to review a presentation made by Anika Coleman, Executive Director at the recent VCA Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Private Cemeteries in Virginia: The Law of Ownership, Maintenance, and Access

Did you know that Virginia law specifically exempts “interment of members of a family on private property” from the requirement that cemeteries be authorized by zoning ordinance? Read up on private cemeteries in this article reprinted with permission from Virginia Lawyer magazine, Dec. 2023. 

Scam Targets Cemetery/Funeral Service Clients

The ICCFA has sent notice that there continues to be a scam that targets consumers of funeral and cemetery services. This unfortunate scam targets families that have recently lost a loved one and planned funeral services. The scammer looks at recent obituaries and then pulls names to contact. The scammer then calls the family and falsely purports to be an employee of the funeral home or cemetery which they just found from the obit. The scammers can also use spoofing software so the number they are calling from appears to be a legitimate business number. They tell the family that there was a problem with their credit card or simply need additional money for the funeral arrangements to stay on schedule. The family then gives the scammer, believing they are from the funeral home or cemetery, the requested information.

ICCFA says they have been notified from members in Pennsylvania, California, and most recently Ohio of this scam and families they have served being victims. One ICCFA member had it happen twice, but luckily the family called afterwards to notify and ask a question, and they were able to contact the credit card company to report the issue.

Please be aware of this potential scam and let the families you serve know your process and not to provide credit card information to anyone over the phone.

CemSites Unveils Pyre and Last Rites: The Ultimate Cloud Software Solution for the Death care Industry

VCA Member CemSites, the industry-leading provider of cloud cemetery software, has announced the launch of two groundbreaking solutions, Pyre, and Last Rites, revolutionizing the death care industry. These cloud software platforms, designed to streamline crematory, and funeral home management, are set to transform operations and elevate the level of service provided to families during their most challenging times.

Pyre, the flagship crematory software by CemSites, brings a new level of efficiency and organization to crematory operations. With Pyre, crematory professionals can seamlessly manage cremation requests, track inventory, generate essential documents, and simplify payment processing. This powerful software allows crematories to focus on providing compassionate care to families, ensuring a smoother and more seamless experience.

In addition to Pyre, CemSites introduces Last Rites, a cutting-edge funeral home software solution. Last Rites optimizes the complete range of funeral home operations, simplifying arrangements, coordinating services, generating detailed reports, and facilitating payment processing. Funeral professionals can now manage their day-to-day tasks efficiently, dedicating more time and attention to the families they serve.

These integrated solutions seamlessly communicate with one another, creating a turnkey approach to deathcare management. The cloud-based nature of these platforms allows for secure data access from any location, at any time, ensuring quick decision-making and immediate responsiveness.

"At CemSites, our mission is to provide the death care industry with premier cloud software solutions that transform operations and enhance the level of care delivered to families," said Mark Anthony, Vice President of Sales at CemSites. "With Pyre and Last Rites, we are empowering crematories, funeral homes, and cemeteries to work smarter, not harder, streamlining processes and allowing professionals to focus on what matters most—providing compassionate support to families during their time of need."

CemSites invites cemetery, crematory, and funeral home professionals to discover the power of Pyre and Last Rites by visiting cemsites.com. Detailed product information, testimonials, and a dedicated support team are available to guide organizations through the implementation process and ensure a seamless transition to cloud-based solutions.

VCA Member Jackson Madnick Recognized as Innovator

Jackson Madnick, president and CEO of Pearl's Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Grass Seed, was recognized recently as one of three major “2023 Innovators” for this industry for his breakthrough Pearl’s Premium grass and many years of environmental innovation and leadership. This was  just published in the July issue of the international American Cemetery & Cremation Magazine. Click HERE to read the story.

Plaque Commemorates VCA Anniversary at The Omni Homestead

In commemoration of the founding of the Virginia Cemetery Association, the Omni Homestead Resort placed a permanent plaque on their building, which was unveiled by 2021-23 President Jim Laidler. The Diamond Jubilee celebration was held during the 75th Anniversary Annual Conference held June 1-4, 2023 at The Homestead. 

2023-2024 Leadership Installed at Annual Conference

VCA leadership turned out to attend the 2023 Annual Convention at The Homestead. At far right is 2023-24 President Tony Peterson, who was installed by SCCFA President Mike Phares (at podium). 

VCA Focus on Technology & Leaders Featured in Magazine

It's no surprise that technology was the focus during the Virginia Cemetery Association's 75th annual meeting, according to American Cemetery and Cremation Magazine. 

Their June 2023 issue features 2021-23 President Jim Laidler, as well as incoming president Tony Peterson, who was installed at the recent annual conference at The Omni Homestead Resort. 

Click HERE to read the full article. 

Relatively Quiet Legislative Session in 2023

The 2023 legislative session was a relatively quiet one when it came to bills filed dealing with cemetery specific issues. For the first time in numerous years, we didn’t have to fight a bill from the funeral association that sought to change the order of priority for making funeral decisions, which always inadvertently looped in cemeteries, despite us asking for years to be exempted.

The main bill we worked on ended up not passing out of the House committee- HB 2011. We didn’t object to the underlying purpose of the bill, but we did have concerns about how broadly it had been drafted. The patron, Delegate Roem, was gracious and cooperative and we worked out new language to achieve her goals but protect private cemeteries. The bill faced additional headwinds and didn’t receive a favorable vote, although we were neutral on it after she adopted our amendments.

Click HERE for more details on the 2023 legislative session.  

VCA Names New Executive Director

We are happy to announce that a new management company and executive director have been named for the Virginia Cemetery Association (VCA), effective Jan. 12, 2023.

Lisa Noon, CAE, RCE, is VCA’s new Executive Director. Lisa is a vice president with Organization Management Group, Inc. (OMG), a 22-year old association management company headquartered in Chesapeake, VA with additional offices in Washington D.C., Richmond, VA and other locations. OMG has been in business for 22 years and employs a team of more than 25 association professionals serving a range of organizations representing business, real estate, renewable energy, human resources, education, healthcare and more. OMG’s staff has multiple CAEs- Certified Association Executives, RCEs- REALTOR Association of Certified Executive, and CMPs – Certified Meeting Professional.

OMG is also one of only twelve association management companies in the world to hold the prestigious Charter Accreditation through the AMC Institute.

Lisa has 29 years of association executive experience managing local, state and national organizations. She often provides other services to clients such as strategic planning facilitation, marketing consultation, and media spokesperson training.  She has trained hundreds of committee leaders and board members on effective governance, leadership, and presentation skills. Lisa is based out of OMG’s Richmond office and can be reached by phone at (804) 215-2665 or by email at info@virginiacemeteryassociation.com. Lisa received her B.A. degree in Mass Communications and her M.A in Mass Communications and Marketing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lisa is an active member of the Virginia Society of Association Executives, where she just "retired" from two terms of service on the board of directors.

Our Lobbyists: The Commonwealth Strategy Group

Commonwealth Strategy Group is an experienced, strategic full-service government relations firm at the forefront of public policy issues in Virginia government. Our access to policymakers and strong work ethic gives our clients the advantages required to effect real change in Richmond.

Visit http://www.commonwealthstrategy.net to learn more, and to look up your legislator, click HERE.

“Virginia Supreme Court Weighs In On The Importance Of Cemetery Rules & Regs To Determine Ownership of Interment Rights Upon Death Of A Lot Owner”

Nov. 22, 2019

In the Supreme Court of Virginia held at the Supreme Court Building in the City of Richmond on Thursday the 20th day of December 2018.

Present: All The Justices
Wallace A. Terry, Jr.,
against Record No. 171410
Circuit Court No. 2015-283
Karen Terry Rickett, Executrix of the
Estate of Wallace A. Terry, Sr., Deceased,
Upon an appeal from a judgment
rendered by the Circuit Court of the City of
Wallace A. Terry, Jr. ("Junior") appeals from the judgment of the circuit court
confinning the commissioner's report of debts and demands against the estate of Wallace A.
Terry, Sr. ("Wallace"), wherein the commissioner detennined that intennent rights owned by
Wallace were properly allocated by Karen Terry Rickett, executrix of the estate, as part of her
share of Wallace's residuary estate.
Upon consideration of the record, briefs, and argument of counsel, the Court is of opinion
that the judgment of the circuit court should be reversed.
In 1972, Wallace executed a sales agreement with Peninsula Memorial Park ("PMP") for
the purchase of designated cemetery lots. The sales agreement provided that upon completion of
all payments, Wallace would receive a deed of ownership of the lots "subject to all the By-Laws,
Rules and Regulations of the Seller now or hereafter adopted, and to the Laws of the
Commonwealth of Virginia and subdivisions thereof now or hereafter in force." The agreement
was made "binding upon the heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns of the
parties hereto."

Rule 24 of the May 1994 revision of the "Rules and Regulations" of PMP provided, in
pertinent part, that if an owner of interment rights dies without having transferred unused
interment rights "either by a specific devise in the Owner's will or by a written direction
furnished to the Cemetery," the unused interment rights "descend to the heirs at law of the --- O-w--ne-r in accorda-n-ce with the laws of descent and distribution of the state in which the C-e-m-etery ..-
is located, subject to the Interment Rights of the deceased and his or her surviving spouse." Rule
........___ ~
23 provided that "4[u]pon receipt of an Order of Distribution by a court having jurisdiction over
the estate of a deceased Owner, the Cemetery shall revise its records to reflect ownership of
Interment Rights in accordance with such Order.,,1
In 1976, Wal1ace received a deed from PMP in which he was granted interment rights in
the cemetery lots designated in the sales agreement. The deed provided that use of the lots 4"shall
be subject to the By-Laws, Rules and Regulations now or hereafter adopted by and for [PMP],
and to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the ordinances of the City of Newport News,
Virginia, now or hereafter in force."
--Wallace died testate on June 13, 2002, survived by his three children: Junior, Karen, and Johnie S. Terry. In Wallace's will, he bequeathed to Junior "any vehicle I own" stating he
''made no further provisions" for Junior since he designated Junior as beneficiary of his $5,000
insurance po icy. Wallace bequeathed the residue of his estate to Karen and Johnie and
nominated Karen as the executrix of his estate. Wallace did not bequeath his unused interment
rights 4'either by a specific devise in the Owner's will or by a written direction furnished to the
Cemetery," as provided for by the PMP' s rules and regulations.
When Karen initially qualified as executrix in 2002, her inventory of the estate listed
interment rights in two cemetery lots located in PMP valued at $5,990. In Karen's first and final
account for the estate, which was approved by the commissioner of accounts in 2005, she
allocated the interment rights to herself as part of her share of the residuary estate.
In 2016, Karen again qualified as executrix of Wallace's estate and filed an inventory
listing the interment rights in the two cemetery lots as the sole asset of the estate. She requested
1 Rules 23 and 24 are now designated as Rules 24 and 25 under the current version of
PMP's Rules and Regulations, dated January 2013.

a hearing limited to the determination of disposition of the interment rights. Following the
hearing, the commissioner filed a report concluding that Karen properly allocated the interment
rights as part of her share of the residuary estate and recommending that the circuit court enter an
order of distribution giving effect to her action.
After Junior filed exceptions to the commissioner's report, the circuit court conducted a
hearing at which Walter Melvin, manager of PMP, testified that "pursuant to Rule 24, the
cemetery does not honor transfers of interment rights via residual clause[ s] of a will, but that the
cementery would honor an Order of Distribution from a court of competent jurisdiction, pursuant
to Rule 23." The circuit court entered an order confirming the commissioner's report and a
subsequent order in which it "re-confirmed" the commissioner's report upon consideration of
Junior's motion for reconsideration.
On appeal, Junior asserts that the circuit court erred in overruling his exceptions to the
commissioner's report and contends that, pursuant to PMP's Rules and Regulations, Wallace's
interment rights descended to his heirs at law. We agree.
Wallace purchased the cemetery lots subject to the Rules and Regulations of PMP, and,
therefore, his power to transfer the interment rights was contractually limited by those
provisions. As we have recognized, the purchaser of a cemetery lot "acquires no absolute --- interest in or dominion over such lot, but merely a qualified and usufructuary right for the purposes to which the lots are devoted and for which they are set apart by the company."
Roanoke Cemetery Co. v. Goodwin, IOI Va. 605, 610 (1903). We have characterized title to
cemetery lots as being "in the nature of an easement, with the exclusive right to bury in the lots,
subject to the general proprietorship and control of the association, in whom the legal title is
lodged." Id h All purchasers from such companies are affected with notice of the limitations
placed upon their holdings by the law of the land, and the charter, constitution, and by-laws of
the company made in pursuance thereof.., Id.
Specifically, pursuant to Rule 24 of PMP's Rules and Regulations, if a cemetery lot
owner dies without having transferred unused interment rights "either by a specific devise" in the
owner's will or "by a written direction furnished to [PMP]," the unused interment rights
"descend to the heirs at law of the Owner in accordance with the laws of descent and
distribution.'' Therefore, under Rule 24, while Wallace could transfer ownership of his interment rights by a specific devise in his will or by written direction furnished to PMP, he could not transfer his interment rights by a residuary clause in his will. Compare Jimenez v. Corr, 288 Va.

395, 412~13 (2014) (recognizing that a testator may enter into a contract limiting the testator's
ability to dispose of certain property by will). Because Wallace did not transfer ownership of his
interment rights by a specific devise in his will or by written direction furnished to PMP, his
interment rights descended to his heirs at law pursuant to the Rules and Regulations of PMP.2
For these reasons, we conclude the circuit court erred in overruling the exceptions to the
commissioner's report and confirming the commissioner's determination that the interment
rights were properly allocated by Karen as part of her share of the residuary estate. We,
therefore, reverse the judgment of the circuit court and enter final judgment ruling that the
interment rights descended to the heirs at law of WaJJace A. Terry, Sr., to wit Wallace A. Terry,
Jr., Karen Terry Rickett, and Johnie S. Terry.
This order shall be certified to the said circuit court.
A Copy,
Signature of Clerk
2 Rule 23, stating that PMP shall revise its records to reflect ownership in accordance
with an order of distribution from a court having jurisdiction over the estate of a deceased owner,
does not allow for an alternative method of transfer of ownership of interment rights, but rather
effectuates Rule 24 by providing for notification to PMP of the transfer of interment rights
pursuant to the terms of Rule 24.


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