CHICAGO – After learning of problems with a funeral held at Mount Hope Cemetery in unincorporated Cook County, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s (IDFPR) has begun disciplinary proceedings against two individuals—one licensed funeral director and one unlicensed employee—involved in a breast cancer victim’s funeral this past summer. A second funeral director, Charles A. Woodcox, was charged with failing to comply with a subpoena related to his firm’s business dealings.
“Like many grieving families, the Brittons relied on the professional guidance and expertise of a local mortuary,” said Brent E. Adams, Acting Secretary of the Department. “But Jackie Britton’s funeral did not help the family move toward closure and acceptance, rather the experience caused Mrs. Britton to endure many sleepless nights wondering where her daughter was. The Department will take the strongest possible action when consumers are victimized in times of need.”
Named in the Department’s complaints are Bridget D. Marshall of Chicago and her brother, Terrence Marshall also of Chicago. The complaint against Ms. Marshall seeks the revocation of her funeral director and embalmer license, and the complaint against Mr. Marshall seeks an order to cease and desist the unlicensed practice of funeral director. The disciplinary proceedings are the result of their alleged roles in the funeral of 43-year-old Jacqueline Britton.
According to the Department’s investigation, Mrs. Britton, who had very little money, consulted with Ms. Marshal, of Unique Funeral Chapel, regarding her wishes for her deceased daughter, which included a public aid burial at Mount Hope Cemetery. Mrs. Britton was told that public aid burial sites have two persons buried in the same grave site, but a single grave site may be purchased as an upgrade.
In an alleged violation of state law, Ms. Marshall reportedly sent Mr. Marshall to Britton’s home to discuss the upgraded burial and other financial arrangements for the funeral including collecting cash payments for additional services. For example, Mrs. Britton paid $350 for limousine service to the cemetery. Upon arriving at the cemetery, however, the Britton family discovered that Ms. Britton’s casket had been “dropped off” in an area next to an access road within the cemetery. The hearse and both Marshalls were nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until early September that Mrs. Britton, as a result of the Department’s investigation, learned where her daughter was buried.
Funeral Planning Advice
DFPR offers this helpful advice when planning a funeral:
• Get the names of funeral directors and check their licensing records at www.idfpr.com
• As required by law, be sure you receive an itemized price list of all the goods and services offered by the funeral home
• Understand what items and service will add cost to the funeral and ask questions about ways to save cost
• Discuss the step-by-step agenda with your funeral director for the wake, funeral and burial to ensure your family’s wishes are met
• When possible, avoid paying for anything in cash. For any purchase, be sure to get itemized receipts
• Don’t make the arrangements by yourself; bring along a close friend who may be less grief-stricken
• Visit the gravesite in advance of the funeral