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: trust

Consumers Payment Options: Administrative Hurdles and Preneed Trusts

Posted in Administration, Associations, Compliance, Master Trusts, Non-guaranteed, NPS/Lincoln, Recordkeeping, Trust Funded
There are three scenarios for administration of preneed installment payments: the funeral operator collects payments, the trustee collects payments or a third party administrator collects payments.  The entity collecting installment payments must be able to apply each payment to the correct preneed account, and provide the other party (or parties) current payment balances.  If the … Continue Reading

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

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

The Medicare Tax and QFTs: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Posted in Administration, Preneed, Preneed Tax, Taxes, Trust Funded
 Over the past few years, preneed trust administrators have been wondering whether a Section 685 qualified funeral trust could look to each individual trust’s income and apply the lower tax rates for long term capital gains and qualified dividends.  The issue has taken on more relevance as preneed trusts look to diversify out of fixed … Continue Reading

The Wisconsin Master Trust: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Posted in Funeral, Master Trusts, Preneed
In a motion to convert the Wisconsin Master Trust from a preneed trust to a liquidating trust, the Receiver outlined to the court why the trust cannot keep its promises to consumers and comply with Wisconsin’s preneed law. Section 445.125 restricts preneed funeral trusts to depository accounts, and CD returns won’t even pay the Master … 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

Wisconsin: Breaking the Settlement Logjam

Posted in Funeral, Master Trusts, Preneed
In prior posts we have documented certain similarities between the old IFDA master trust and the Wisconsin master trust, and our Illinois clients have expressed sympathy for their colleagues to the north. But, key differences exist between the two master trusts, and the recent settlement agreement offered to Wisconsin funeral homes is an indication that … 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

Wisconsin Cemeteries: Who needs a fiduciary?

Posted in Cemeteries
Here is proof that readership of newspapers is going down. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called a few weeks back about a Wisconsin legislative bill that sought investment freedom for cemetery trust funds.  With the legislative battle that was waged a year ago in Wisconsin, we had expected the bill might represent a renewed effort to … 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

Too Literal of an Interpretation: Mississippi and Preneed Taxes

Posted in Preneed, Preneed Tax, Reporting
The Mississippi Secretary of State seems to be taking a very proactive approach to the regulation of preneed and perpetual care funds. Over the course of the last few years, the Regulation and Enforcement Division of the Secretary of State’s office has averaged an enforcement proceeding per month. We were curious what type of enforcement … Continue Reading

A False Sense of Security: the hold harmless for investment oversight

Posted in Funeral, Master Trusts, Preneed
We previously discussed how the funeral home or cemetery assumes most of a preneed trust’s investment risk when selling a guaranteed preneed contract, and therefore should be afforded a role in the trust’s investment decisions (Fund Managers: Is Your O&E Coverage Current?). But in that same post, we were careful to point out that there … Continue Reading

A Peace Offering: Fiducary Partners and the WFDA Receiver

Posted in Fiduciary, IFDA, Master Trusts
Fiduciary Partners, the corporate fiduciary for the Wisconsin and Illinois master trusts, broke its silence this week with a statement to the Funeral Service Insider. The statement was made in response to criticisms previously reported by FSI, and reflects the receiver and fiduciary working together to get their “message” out and avoid the kind of … Continue Reading

Checks and Balances: Who has your back?

Posted in Administration, Fiduciary, Master Trusts, Preneed
In the days that followed the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association being placed into receivership, some of the WFDA’s sister associations were quick to point out they had ‘checks and balances’ that would protect consumers’ funds from the problems that tripped up the Wisconsin Funeral Trust. As we reported in our last post, a crucial ‘check … 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

Wisconsin: Where is the Love?

Posted in Funeral, Master Trusts
When news of the Wisconsin receivership was made public, I anticipated some signs of support from other state associations. The strength of a professional relationship can be measured by the support given subsequent to a public indictment. But, when that support comes in the form of hackneyed advice, the accused is left to wonder about … Continue Reading

One Too Many Guarantees: Wisconsin and the SEC

Posted in Fiduciary, Funeral, Master Trusts
When news that the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association and its master trust had been put into receivership, I anticipated that the association may have fallen victim to a perfect storm: when an antiquated preneed law collides with a volatile investment market. But, subsequent news accounts are painting a bleak picture of poor planning and poor … 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

The Preneed Haves and Have Nots

Posted in Cemeteries, Preneed
It is no secret that the larger funeral home operators have more preneed options than the industry’s mom and pops. The large operators have the volume of business that will attract insurance companies and banks, and their program incentives and discounts. Economies of scale provide the larger operator preneed advantages when going ‘toe to toe’ … Continue Reading