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: trusts

Preneed Trust Options: Administrative Limitations

Posted in Uncategorized
The Memorial Business Journal’s July 10th story on the NFDA 2014 consumer survey included a commentator’s suggestion that preneed funding has declined because so few options are offered the consumer.  The story’s commentators interpreted the decline in preneed funding as reflecting fewer consumers being motivated by price guarantees, and those that might be, need installment … Continue Reading

Form 1041QFT: Reducing Tax Liabilities

Posted in Uncategorized
Tax day is only a week away, and preneed trust returns will look a little different this year.  As we reported back in December, the IRS took the position that preneed trusts are subject to the Medicare Tax used to fund the Affordable Health Care Act.  Accordingly, Federal Form 1041QFT now requires the reporting of “Net … Continue Reading

Cemetery Care Trusts: The Public Interests

Posted in Care Funds, Cemeteries
The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) made an old but persuasive argument to get the IRS to exempt cemetery care trusts from the Medicare tax that will fund ObamaCare.  As discussed in a prior post, the IRS had initially proposed to apply the tax to both cemetery care trusts and preneed trusts.  With … 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 “Problem” Cemetery: The Difference a Trustee Makes

Posted in Cemeteries
As cemeteries struggle with harsh economic conditions, regulators are bound to look at their ‘problem cemeteries’ and weigh whether legal proceedings are necessary to preserve the care funds mandated by state law. To the extent such proceedings are premised in part on how capital gains are defined and whether distributions from capital gains are an … 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

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

Dark Clouds and Preneed

Posted in Funeral, Insurance Funded, Preneed, Trust Funded
Not that close, even from the 30,000-foot view. That’s our assessment of the Morningstar analysis of preneed and its impact on the death care industry. In “Dark Clouds for the Death-Care Industry”, a stock analyst attempted to explain the preneed transaction, and then provide an assessment of the impact of preneed on the profitability of … 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

Annual Investment Reviews: the need to diversify

Posted in Fiduciary, Preneed
The ICCFA’s November Magazine included an article by Craig Martin that provides good advice for all death care trusts. Death care trusts are notoriously bad performers, and if operators are to improve investment performance they need to work more closely with their fiduciaries and portfolio managers. Mr. Martin offers 5 tips that are equally applicable … Continue Reading

Strength in numbers: master trusts

Posted in Fiduciary, Preneed
A trade newsletter recently reported on funeral homes forming buying groups to negotiate better terms with casket vendors. Through cooperative alliances, the funeral homes can achieve the numbers required to negotiate better discounts from vendors. Those same economies of scale also benefit preneed programs that utilize trust funding. The larger trust not only provides the … Continue Reading

The long, winding road to reform: Michigan

Posted in Cemeteries, Legislation, Reform
Even when the need for reform is apparent to all, the legislative process can take years. With the Michigan Senate having approved a House substitute, that state’s cemeteries are a step closer to reform that could have avoided Clayton Smart’s pillaging of $70 million dollars of endowed care funds. The Michigan Legislature’s website provides the … Continue Reading

Trade Association Membership: weighing the costs vs. the benefits

Posted in Cemeteries, Funeral, Preneed
Mortuary Management’s July/August Colleague Wisdom column underscores how difficult it can be to run a trade association. I can empathize with the funeral home operators who took the time to provide their thoughts. As an attorney who specializes in the death care industry, I have to weigh the costs and benefits of membership in trade associations from … Continue Reading

Preneed trusts and insurance investments

Posted in Preneed, Preneed Tax
One of the many issues facing regulators in the Clayton Smart debacle was the surrender of thousands of Forethought life insurance policies by a Forest Hill preneed trustee. New light will probably be shed on this issue with revelations that Robert Nelms and Clayton Smart may each have been using the same financial management company: Security … Continue Reading