Death Care Compliance Law

Death Care Compliance Law

Preneed: A Pandora's Box of Problems

William Stalter is the founder of Stalter Legal Services and the Preneed Resource Company. Bill focuses his law practice on preneed and death care compliance, serving banks, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries. He has written multiple published articles

Category Archives: Missouri – SB1

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NPS’ Legacy of Damages: No One Knows How Deep the Waters Were

Posted in Associations, Exams/audits, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, NPS/Lincoln, Recordkeeping
When NPS first collapsed, the estimate of the company’s liabilities to funeral homes was reported to have been as much as a billion dollars.  When the SDR finally brought the case to trial, the damages awarded by the jury were less than half of the original estimate.   While this author believes the actual damages are… Continue Reading

NPS Trustees: Standard of Care for Investments

Posted in Compliance, Investments, Missouri - SB1, NPS/Lincoln
Now that a judgment has been rendered against Allegiant Bank, the NPS litigation will move on to the appeal stage where the focus will be on R.S.Mo. Section 436.031.  The NPS trustees universally argued that this provision of the Missouri preneed statute relieved them of all responsibility and liability for investment supervision.  As set out… Continue Reading

NPS Trustees: Standard of Care for Preneed Administration

Posted in Administration, Compliance, Missouri - SB1, NPS/Lincoln, Recordkeeping
Final arguments were heard in the NPS civil trial this past Friday.  With the SDR having presented evidence through the prior Friday, the defendant trustees presented their case in less than a week.  This may reflect that the NPS trustees had viewed their duties as having been defined by Chapter 436 as relatively low.  As… Continue Reading

NPS Trustees: Pre-acceptance Due Diligence

Posted in Compliance, Fiduciary, Missouri - SB1, NPS/Lincoln
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the OCC) supervises the fiduciary activities of national chartered banks, and in February, updated the guidelines used by its examiners.  The “Personal Fiduciary Activities” booklet includes a section on pre-acceptance due diligence that fiduciaries should conduct before agreeing to serve as trustee for an account.  Page 7… Continue Reading

Missouri and the Investment Advisor: A Chinese Wall

Posted in Fiduciary, Funeral, Investments, Missouri - SB1, Preneed
Among the rule proposals suggested by the Division of Professional Registration to the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors was the following definition of “External Investment Advisor”: any licensed, qualified investment advisor approved and authorized by the trustee of the preneed trust and who holds no personal interest in any assets of the preneed… Continue Reading

Transferee Liability: Hidden Obligations

Posted in Missouri - SB1
The Dead Beat recently published a letter from a Missouri funeral home operator that was critical of the ‘handling of the NPS debacle’ by the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The operator questioned how the Board could ‘allow’ his firm to sign official documents requiring that NPS contracts be honored. The official… Continue Reading

Formal Rulemaking: Missouri’s test of patience

Posted in Missouri - SB1, Preneed
At its December meeting, Missouri’s State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will seek input from licensees and consumers regarding several rulemaking proposals. The proposals were published on the Board’s website in November, with a request that comments be provided to the Board by December 2nd. This represents a prelude to the formal rulemaking process… Continue Reading

Missouri’s First Preneed Regulation: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

Posted in Missouri - SB1, Preneed, Preplanning
More than one funeral director has expressed the opinion that the State Board should never have been given rule making authority. We’ll never know, but if the State Board had rulemaking authority 22 years ago, it could have implemented rules to help enforce NPS’ 1990 settlement agreement, and thereby avoided that company’s collapse. But equally… Continue Reading

Did Someone Ask “Who’s the Boss?”

Posted in Missouri - SB1, Preneed
Three years ago we asked that question with regard to the power struggle occurring between the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and the Missouri Division of Professional Registration staff. That post was influenced by our experiences with preneed regulators from other states, who range from elected politicians to the revolving door bureaucrat.… Continue Reading

Master Trusts: Finding the Rails

Posted in Fiduciary, Guaranteed, IFDA, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Non-guaranteed, Preneed, Trust Funded
Both the Memorial Business Journal and the Funeral Service Insider commented last week on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s February 7th article regarding the former executive director of the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association. Several issues were raised that should be included in future industry debate, and in particular, I would agree with Mr. Isard’s questions whether… Continue Reading

The NPS Recovery Plan: two hurdles to liftoff

Posted in Missouri - SB1
On December 12th, a Missouri coalition of NPS preneed providers will have a second opportunity to state their case for legislation to establish a NPS recovery plan. As we noted back in September, that coalition should anticipate a tepid reception from the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors (and much of the Missouri funeral… Continue Reading

That Elusive Matter of Intent: Missouri insurance assignments

Posted in Missouri - SB1
With the backdrop of another major preneed debacle, Missouri turns its attention (yet again) to the assignment of insurance policies to funeral homes.  On September 25th, the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will consider a regulation proposal addressing insurance assignments.  Is it, or is it not, a preneed contract?   The industry, and the… Continue Reading

Addressing the NPS aftermath: a hard sell

Posted in Legislation, Missouri - SB1, NPS/Lincoln
Per capita, Missouri funeral directors were hit hardest by the collapse of National Prearranged Services.  And those funeral directors who suffered the greatest losses continue to demand help from the State of Missouri.  Although Missouri re-wrote its preneed law just 3 years ago, the Legislature begins hearings today on whether more legislation is needed. With… Continue Reading

October Chaos: Missouri Preneed Seller Renewals and Insurance Assignments

Posted in Missouri - SB1, Reporting
The staff for the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors released the revised preneed renewal reports this week, and those revisions include a few new additional requirements.  Those requirements include a seller providing a ‘no tax due’ letter, proof of corporate status and any ‘doing business as’ filings.  However, the new requirement that… Continue Reading

Out of Left Field: Missouri’s insurance assignments

Posted in Exams/audits, Insurance Funded, Missouri - SB1
Who can honestly say they saw this one coming?  On July 5, 2012, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors filed a complaint with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission against a Missouri funeral home for alleged violations of Chapter 436, including several transactions that predate Senate Bill No. 1. So, three years after the… Continue Reading

Preneed vs. Preplanning: Missouri’s blurred line

Posted in Missouri - SB1
For some Missouri funeral homes, the ‘disagreement’ over the Section 436.405.1.(8) and insurance assignments has been brought to their doorstep.  In January, the State Board and their staff debated the issue of whether insurance assignments and beneficiary designations made in favor of a funeral home should constitute a preneed contract. The State Board rejected the staff’s interpretation of the… Continue Reading

Missouri and Mrs. Smith’s insurance policy: Where to draw the line?

Posted in Insurance Funded, Missouri - SB1, Preneed
Every funeral director has faced the situation where Mrs. Smith comes in with an insurance policy and her funeral plans. Often, Mrs. Smith has gone to trouble of designating the funeral home as the policy beneficiary before having discussed her plans with the director. Often funeral directors file the policy and plan away until Mrs.… Continue Reading