Enthusiasm for document management continues to grow in the funeral industry. But do you really know what document management is? Document management systems allow you to scan paper documents or print electronic documents directly to an online filing cabinet and add index values ​​(labels) to documents so that you can easily retrieve them by searching for a person’s name, date of service, or other custom index values. Document management can make a difference in your funeral home by offering savings in time and money, as well as increased compliance.

While all businesses are required to keep certain records on file, funeral homes (especially those with cemeteries) have detailed and extensive record retention guidelines. In Kentucky and Alabama, for example, the record retention guidelines look like this:

Records retention period

Kentucky, Alabama

License Renewal Cards – Permanently Active 15 Years

Complaints and Permanent Investigation Reports 15 years

License applications 50 years

Apprenticeship report 3 years 3 years

Exam papers 2 years 3 years

Board meeting minutes Permanently Permanently

Quarterly Licensing Newsletters Permanently Permanently

And that is just the beginning. All companies must keep certain financial and human resource documents on file for a certain number of years, depending on the state. The following list provides general guidance on how long to keep various types of records:

· Shareholders’ agreements, bylaws, minutes and other corporate governance documents: These documents must be kept permanently. Ideally, the copies should also be in the hands of your attorney.

· Key contracts, leases and other agreements, including insurance policies: These records must be kept for at least 10 years after their expiration. Funeral home owners should also keep insurance policies permanently, as claims can occasionally arise for acts that occurred many years ago. (This is particularly true for environmental claims). Keep a copy of the policy to establish coverage potential.

· Tax returns, financial statements and related documents: These documents must be kept permanently.

· Payroll records: Also keep these documents permanently.

· Financial and accounting records, including journals, ledgers, and depreciation schedules: These generally need to be kept for 10 years after they are created. However, in the case of assets that may be long-lived or sold at a much later date, invoices or other documents stating their cost will be required to establish a tax base. These documents must be kept indefinitely.

· Personnel records: Employee records, including applications, I-9 forms, and performance reviews, must be retained for at least seven years after the individual’s employment ends. In the case of a charge of discrimination, all documents must be kept for four years after the charge is resolved, if it is more than seven years after the termination of employment. With respect to job applicants who have not been employed, applications, resumes, and responses must be retained for one year after completion.

· Bank statements and canceled checks: These can usually be discarded after seven years. However, if canceled checks might be required to establish a tax base or to evidence other important transactions, the copies should be kept indefinitely, preferably with the other documents related to the transaction in question.

Rules and regulations for funeral homes (and other businesses)

In addition to record retention regulations, there are other laws and acts that can affect your funeral home and the way it stores your documents.

Gramm-Leach Bliley Law

If your funeral home routinely enters into installment agreements with your families, you are subject to the Gramm-Leach Bliley (GLB) Act as a financial institution. (If most consumers pay by check, credit card, insurance assignment, or probate payment, your funeral home will not be considered a financial institution simply because it occasionally allows consumers to pay over time.)

• Hire or designate a records retention administrator to oversee the removal of records containing non-public personal information.

• Store confidential records so that only authorized employees can access them

• Shred or recycle customer information on paper

• Erase all data when disposing of computers, floppy disks, magnetic tapes, hard drives, or any other electronic media that contains customer information.

• Effectively destroy hardware

• Immediately remove obsolete customer information.

FTC red flags

The Red Flags Rule is an anti-fraud regulation that requires “creditors” and “financial institutions” with covered accounts to implement programs to identify, detect and respond to warning signs or “red flags” that could indicate theft of assets. identity.

To further prevent the likelihood of identity theft occurring at your funeral home, you should take the following steps to protect the customer’s identifying information:

• Carry out the complete and secure destruction of paper documents and computer files containing customer information.

• Password protect office computers and provide computer screens to lock after a set period of time

• Keep offices free of papers that contain customer identification information.

• Require and retain only the type of client information that is necessary for the purposes of the funeral home.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Right to Information

Officially known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200, the Right to Know Act was designed to ensure that chemical hazards in the workplace are identified and evaluated, and that information related to these hazards is communicated to both employers and employees. This information transfer should be accomplished through a comprehensive hazard communication program that includes container labeling and other forms of warnings, including Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and employee training. According to OSHA, MSDSs must be easily accessible to employees when they are in their work areas during their work shifts.

How Document Management Can Help

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), which was adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in 1999, ensures that electronic transactions are as enforceable as their paper counterparts. UETA states that: “the legal effect or applicability of a contract cannot be denied solely because an electronic record was used in its formation.” The law states that any law that requires a physical record will be met by an electronic record and that any signature requirement can be met by an electronic signature.

Translation: In the United States, an electronic document is considered the same as the original document. This allows business owners to shred the corresponding paper files after they have been scanned into an electronic format or document management system. And it leads business owners to document management systems.

Permanent record retention.

Using a document management system, your funeral home records can be permanently stored online. Once a document is scanned into the system, only the filing cabinet owner can delete it. This will help you meet state record retention guidelines. To comply with OSHA regulations, your staff can scan your MSDS into a document management system for immediate retrieval from any computer with an Internet connection. And by scanning all the paper that comes into your office, you keep your desktops clear of personal information, which is a major deterrent to identity theft.

Password protected access.

A document management system is much more secure than a standard filing cabinet. Your employees will need user IDs and passwords to access the system, and authorities can be configured so that users can only view documents that are relevant to their jobs. This feature of most document management systems will help you comply with the GLB Law and the Red Flag Rule.

Audit trails.

Once a user is in the document management system, audit trails keep track of the documents they have scanned, viewed, edited, and even deleted. This gives you the ability to see what your employees are looking at, as well as where and when. This adds another level of security to your documents and, again, helps with compliance.

Access from anywhere.

An unintended benefit: In the event of an audit, planned or unplanned, users of the document management system can provide auditors with secure access to all documents stored in the system, eliminating the need for auditors to auditors are on site and greatly speeds up the process. audit process.

By getting rid of paper at your funeral home, you can also improve compliance, eliminate files and filing cabinets, and create a central repository for all your records. In the process, you save time and money and create a better experience for your employees and customers. The only question that remains is, when can you start scanning?