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

Tag Archives: insurance

Plaintiff’s Star Witness: Doug Cassity

Posted in Insurance Funded, NPS/Lincoln, Preneed Tax, Trust Funded, Uncategorized
The NPS civil trial is scheduled for trial in February 2015, and the SDR’s strategy took a twist when her litigation team filed a motion to dismiss Doug Cassity as a defendant in the lawsuit.  The dismissal probably signals the SDR’s intent to use Mr. Cassity’s testimony.  Now convinced that Mr. Cassity does not have … Continue Reading

Accepting Final Expense Policies: More Than an Accommodation

Posted in Funeral, Preplanning
Many funeral homes have an informal practice of accepting small insurance policies from individuals who want to know their funeral expense will be taken care of at the time of death. Often, the individual may not be comfortable discussing their funeral preferences with family, and trust the funeral director to apply the insurance proceeds appropriately. … Continue Reading

Coming This August: The Nuremberg Trial

Posted in NPS/Lincoln
 Once again, I have spoken too quickly. After lamenting to the Memorial Business Journal that the NPS plea bargains will deprive consumers and the industry the opportunity to hear how Doug and his crew perpetrated so many frauds, the sole remaining NPS defendant may grant my wish. As the Funeral Service Insider reports that Herr … Continue Reading

Illinois Tax Blues: when a loss is not a loss

Posted in IFDA
For many Illinois funeral homes, April 15th served as a bitter reminder of Merrill Lynch and the financial losses suffered by the IFDA master trust. The final Merrill Lynch settlements (approximately $41 million) were received in 2012, and taxes had to be paid on those funds this past tax day. Funeral directors have questioned how … 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

Wisconsin: borrowing from the NPS playbook

Posted in Funeral, Master Trusts, Preneed
Recent document disclosures are reflecting that several factors contributed to the WFDA’s master trust deficiency (and the appointment of a receiver). Certain of those factors relate to the fees paid to fund managers and the association’s sponsorship charges. Those factors are relevant to other association master trusts, and we will explore them in subsequent posts. … 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

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

Cemeteries: the insurance void

Posted in Administration, Cemeteries, Funeral, Preneed
For obvious reasons, life insurance is the preneed funding choice for many funeral directors. One hundred percent trusting laws give proactive preneed organizations no choice but to use insurance funding. Insurance provides the commissions needed to finance marketing and a sales force, and, maybe as important, relieves the funeral home from preneed accounting and administration. … 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

Another factor in the cremation trend: preneed insurance premiums

Posted in Cremation, Guaranteed, Insurance Funded, Preneed, Preplanning
Our preneed provides peace of mind by freeing your family from the burdens of rising funeral costs and from making difficult decisions during their time of grief. Since the inception of the transaction sixty years ago, that statement has defined preneed marketing. Even the AARP recently embrace the peace of mind concept. The inflationary protection … Continue Reading

Preneed Contract Forms: Worth The Paper They’re Written On?

Posted in Compliance, Exams/audits, Funeral, Insurance Funded, Preneed, Recordkeeping, Trust Funded
With the exception of a few states, each form of preneed funding has its own statutory requirements. Consequently, different contract forms are required for each method of preneed funding. So, what does this mean for the consumer worried about the safety of funds paid to the funeral home or cemetery. Among the pecking order of … Continue Reading

Missouri’s Ever Changing Spend Down Rule

Posted in Preneed
Give the State Board credit for attempting to clarify how insurance assignments must be handled for compliance with Missouri laws.  For several months, the State Board has sought clarifications from MO HealthNet regarding spend-downs. On May 12th, the Board emailed to the industry new MO HealthNet guidelines for insurance assignments. One day later, the legislature … Continue Reading

When is the Spend Down preneed?

Posted in Preneed, Preplanning
A “Spend Down” is the transaction where a person seeking public assistance transfers money or insurance to a funeral home to avoid having the “asset” count as a resource. It is a commonly held perception that the Spend Down accounts for many preneed contract purchases. But should all Spend Downs trigger the state preneed law … Continue Reading

Insurable interest and the IFDA master trust

Posted in IFDA
The Illinois Division of Insurance made the right call: the IFDA master trust does not have an insurable interest in the lives of the members who participate in the trust. A preneed trust is intended to fund the liability that arises when the preneed beneficiary dies and a funeral must be provided. Accordingly, it is … Continue Reading

The Transfer-for-value Rule and insurance funded preneed

Posted in Preneed, Preneed Tax
In reporting on Forethought’s cut in growth payments last month, the Funeral Service Insider made a curious statement about the taxability. Referencing one of Forethought’s products, the article stated that a funeral home would have received the product’s growth tax free, and now would have to recognize the bonus as income. The article suggests that … Continue Reading

Who is responsible for the rogue agent?

Posted in NPS/Lincoln, Preneed
Part of the bad rap against preneed stems from the salesman who is prepared to say anything to close the sale. While, reputable companies build safeguards into their programs to check this behavior, there will be individuals who are prepared to bend the rules. Who should be held accountable when the agent intentionally violates the … Continue Reading

A victory for the little guy

Posted in Legislation, Preneed
While the Wall Street bail out plan has many flaws, one of its proposals has wide-based support: the concept of increasing the limit on insured deposits to $250,000.  According to the New York Times, the driving force behind this proposal wasn’t the mega-banks, but rather our local banks.   The Independent Community Bankers of America represents approximately 8,000 local banks, … Continue Reading