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: Investments

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The MFT Complaint: Rollovers and Common Trust Funds

Posted in Administration, Investments, Recordkeeping, Reporting
In paragraphs 39 through 52, and paragraphs 79 through 95, of the Complaint filed against the Missouri Funeral Trust, the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors raises issues with regard to the preneed trusts that were transferred by funeral homes to MFT.  The re-write of Missouri’s preneed law in 2009 provided the MFT an… Continue Reading

Nebraska Preneed Legislation – Clarifying Trust Liability

Posted in Compliance, Exams/audits, Investments, Reporting, Trust Funded
On January 30th, the Nebraska Legislature will conduct a hearing on a bill to fix a problem with the state’s preneed funeral law.  The Burial Pre-Need Sale Act was originally passed in 1986, when preneed trusts invested almost exclusively in government bonds.  The intent of the Nebraska law was to require the preneed seller (that… Continue Reading

Preneed Trusts and Value Allocations: Total Return vs Income Return

Posted in Administration, Compliance, Investments, Total Return Trust
As discussed in our prior post, funeral homes are becoming increasingly dependent upon their preneed trustee for individual account administration.  Many trustees that provide account administration rely upon programs that use tax cost basis accounting.  (For a prior discussion of tax cost basis see “Consumer Options and Administrative Hurdles: Market Value Allocations”.)    Tax cost accounting… Continue Reading

A Treasury Market Out of Whack: Preneed Insurers and Preneed Sellers

Posted in Insurance Funded, Investments, Preneed, Preneed Development, Preneed Development, Preneed Shortfalls, Price Protection, Price Protection, Uncategorized
In our last post, we used Allan Sloan’s article on the Treasury bond market to highlight the investment exposures to death care trusts.  Today we will look at how the Treasury market is also impacting funeral homes that rely upon insurance for preneed funding.  Mr. Sloan’s article alluded to insurance companies being required by statute… Continue Reading

A Treasury Market Out of Whack: Putting a hurt on death care funds

Posted in Care Funds, Cemeteries, Compliance, Investments
The July 25th Marketplace Morning Report on National Public Radio included a segment called Allan Sloan’s lessons on bond investments. Mr. Sloan is a business columnist for the Washington Post who recently wrote that the current Treasury bond market is “out of whack”, and poses a risker investment than the stock markets. Mr. Sloan wrote:… Continue Reading

No Relief from the Federal Reserve: the September Announcement

Posted in Compliance, Guaranteed, Insurance Funded, Investments, Preneed
For an industry that has been dependent on interest income, the past 9 years have been tough on the death care industry.  Interest rates started to decline 9 years ago, with the bottom hitting in 2008.   Zero interest rates forced death care fiduciaries to diversify into equity investments, but trusts have experienced a sideways market… Continue Reading

Trustee Investment Liability: The Preneed Purchaser Wild Card

Posted in Associations, Fiduciary, Investments
Back in March, the NPS Special Deputy Receiver won a judgement of $355 million against PNC Bank (as successor to Allegiant Bank).   In defense of Allegiant Bank, PNC argued that Missouri’s Chapter 436 defined the trustee’s duties as owed solely to the preneed seller.  That was the intent of the Missouri Funeral Directors Association when… Continue Reading

Preneed Trust Shortages: Investment Management Fees

Posted in Associations, Compliance, Investments, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1
One strength of the state association master trust is that it can provide the ‘critical mass’ required for economies of scale to reduce trust management costs.  As the state master trust grows in size, the association can better negotiate asset management arrangements.  However, the reality has been very different for these programs.  The reorganization of… Continue Reading

Preneed Trust Shortages: Missouri’s Income Withdrawals

Posted in Exams/audits, Investments, Legislation, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Recordkeeping, Reporting, Trust Funded
Prior to Missouri re-writing its preneed law in 2009, preneed sellers could draw off realized income so long as the withdrawal did not reduce the trust’s fair market value below trust deposits.   Seeking income, many Missouri sellers directed their trustees to invest in bonds.  As interest rates declined during the early part of the prior… Continue Reading

Association Master Trusts: De Facto Trustees

Posted in Compliance, Exams/audits, Fiduciary, Investments, Master Trusts
According to court filings, the reorganization plans for the Wisconsin Master Trust and California Master Trust each seek to eliminate ‘de facto trustee’ relationships that allowed the respective associations’ executives to ‘misuse, misspend, and mismanage millions of dollars’ of trust funds, and to direct funds towards inappropriate and unsuitable investments that served the association’s, rather… 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

Questions for the Jury: the mirror trust account

Posted in Administration, Compliance, Investments, NPS/Lincoln
A recent order issued by the Federal Court trying the NPS civil suit referenced a mirror trust employed by the defendant bank (12-31-14 Order – Comerica MSJ ).  To facilitate the trading of investment securities, a brokerage account is established with a firm that can administer the transactions more efficiently than the fiduciary institution.   The fiduciary… Continue Reading

Question for The Jury: Exculpatory Clauses and Preneed Investment Supervision

Posted in Associations, Investments, Master Trusts, NPS/Lincoln
It is common for master preneed trusts to have investments directed by an independent fund manager.  The pooling of smaller trusts allows funeral directors to achieve the critical mass needed to engage professional asset management.  When investment functions are delegated, the trustee typically wants to be relieved of the supervision and liabilities that accompany those… Continue Reading

Getting Personal: liability and the preneed trust officer

Posted in Administration, Compliance, Investments, Master Trusts, NPS/Lincoln
Earlier this week, the Federal Court that is to try the NPS civil lawsuit next month issued an order (Order denying Morisse JOP Mtn) that will raise red flags for the banks that serve as preneed trustees.  In denying the motion of an officer of Allegiant Bank, Judge Richard Webber held that the Special Deputy Receiver… Continue Reading

Rising Interest Rates: A Return to the Good Ole Days?

Posted in Investments, Master Trusts, Trust Funded
For Fed watchers, last week’s announcement signaled a subtle warning that interest rates will likely begin rising by the Summer of 2015.  Since September of 2012, Federal Reserve statements have warned that interest rates would remain unchanged for “a considerable time” after the nation’s economic recovery strengthened.  The reference to “a considerable time” was dropped… Continue Reading

Investment Advisors: How Independent?

Posted in Compliance, Investments, Master Trusts, NPS/Lincoln
In a motion for rulings of law, the NPS Special Deputy Receiver seeks a judicial determination of two legal issues that could impact preneed trustees subject to the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit of Federal Court of Appeals: the beneficiary status of preneed purchasers (and funeral homes) and the required independence of investment advisors.  These two… Continue Reading

The Fed’s Tapering Plan: A Bumpy Road for Death Care Trusts?

Posted in Compliance, Investments, Master Trusts, Uncategorized
It has been almost ten years since the return on Government bonds fell below 5%.  But bond returns did not hit bottom until four years later when the sub-prime mortgage market collapsed.  Those conditions threatened the nation’s credit markets, and so, in 2008, the Federal Reserve Board initiated a stimulus program involving the purchase of… 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

The Bernanke Factor: The New Volatility for Death Care Trusts

Posted in Investments, Master Trusts, Preneed
A Missouri preneed auditor recently requested an explanation from a client why certain accounts were underfunded.  The handful of accounts were “underfunded” by varying amounts of a few dollars to twenty dollars.  The common fact with each was an initial deposit or substantial deposit in the month preceding the Federal Chairman’s remarks that sent the… Continue Reading

The NPS Criminal Trial: Vicarious Liability?

Posted in Fiduciary, Investments, Master Trusts, NPS/Lincoln, Preneed
David Wulf may stand alone in the crosshairs of the criminal prosecutors, but his fate will impact the NPS preneed trustees (and possibly other registered investment advisors who manage death care funds). Mr. Wulf had a situation that is unique from what existed in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, but is familiar to other death care… Continue Reading

Investment Restrictions: who’s guaranty?

Posted in IFDA, Investments, Preneed, Reform
The Springfield Journal-Register recently reported that Illinois’ Cemetery Oversight Task Force made a recommendation to restrict preneed trusts to investing in government-backed securities.   While its difficult to actually find that recommendation in the Task Force’s report, it is not a bad idea for the consumers who purchased a non-guaranteed preneed contract.  However, that type of restriction would hinder funeral homes that offer guaranteed contracts. The… Continue Reading