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: missouri

The Missouri Fund Manager: What was Grandfathered?

Posted in Associations, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1
There seems to be some confusion in Missouri over the permissible contractual relationships among the preneed seller, the preneed trustee and the independent investment advisor. Prior to the collapse of NPS, and the subsequent amendment of Missouri’s preneed law, Chapter 436 allowed the preneed seller to incorporate provisions in its preneed trust agreement to instruct… Continue Reading

Chasing Preneed’s Bad Apples

Posted in Associations, Exams/audits
In September of last year, the Columbus Dispatch published a story critical of the Ohio State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.  Examining the Board’s efforts to address preneed fraud, the story reported that prosecutions of funeral directors were more the result of consumer complaints than Board inspections.  That must have struck a nerve with… Continue Reading

The Missouri Funeral Trust and its Catch-22

Posted in Compliance, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Recordkeeping
A status hearing is scheduled for September 28th in the lawsuit filed by the Missouri Funeral Trust against the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and Catholic Fraternal Life.   The lawsuit is now 4 months removed from the request for a temporary restraining order that, among other relief sought, would stay the financial examination… Continue Reading

The MFT Lawsuit Claims: The Client List

Posted in Associations, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Preneed
The lawsuit brought by the Missouri Funeral Trust against the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and CFL Pre-Need includes  a number of unique and dubious claims.  For example, the lawsuit defines CFL Pre-Need, an insurance company, as a competitor but not funeral home clients that are licensed as a preneed seller.  The… Continue Reading

The High Cost of Litigation: Copy Charges

Posted in NPS/Lincoln
The Special Deputy Receiver for National Prearranged Services recently filed a Bill of Costs with the Federal trial court.  The Bill of Costs seeks to recover copy charges of more than $500,000 from a former NPS trustee.  Those costs do not include attorneys’ fees.  Litigation can be very costly. Missouri’s preneed regulators are keenly aware of the costs of… 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: Deposit Plus Accounting

Posted in Administration, Compliance, Legislation, Missouri - SB1
During its state convention, the executive director for the Missouri Funeral Director and Embalmers Association stated that their master trust program would have a $3 million dollar surplus if all preneed contract beneficiaries were to die that day.  If the Missouri program were being administered pursuant to common trust fund rules, there should not be… Continue Reading

The Missouri Agenda: a few clean up provisions

Posted in Missouri - SB1
The Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will meet to July 21st to discuss “a short slate” of legislation and regulation proposals.   While many of the proposals have been previously discussed, some, such as the preneed shortage funding requirement, are new.  We also note regulation proposals regarding when forms and reports are deemed… 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

Missouri and Preneed Deficiencies: What is a shortage?

Posted in Legislation, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Preneed Shortfalls, Reporting, Trust Funded
At its June meeting, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors gave instructions to their staff to draft legislation that would provide the Board powers to force preneed sellers to contribute funds to their trusts to cover ‘shortages’.   The instruction was not without some controversy as one Board member questioned why he was… 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

Transparency:The Curious Case of the Missouri Funeral Trust

Posted in Master Trusts
In his final report to the court, the Wisconsin Master Trust receiver proposed a new trust agreement that is intended to provide “transparency, accountability, oversight and prudence”.   Similarly, the California Attorney General seeks to provide transparency through express reporting requirements included in the trust agreement proposed to the court presiding over the California Master Trust. … Continue Reading

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 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

Groundhogs Day 2015: Six Weeks of NPS Civil Trial

Posted in NPS/Lincoln
The National Prearranged Services civil trial is scheduled to begin this week, and trial briefs have been filed with the Court.  The briefs outline the arguments that each party plans to prove during the course of the trial.  It is our understanding that the Special Deputy Receiver has settled with all defendant trustees except Allegiant… 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

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