The Funeral Monitor and the Funeral Service Insider write to different segments of the death care industry, and rarely report on the same topics.  So when each makes National Prearrangement Services their lead story in late January, readers should take notice.

NPS is a company that has always pushed the envelope.  With preneed laws as ambiguous as they are, there is plenty of room for wiggle when it comes to compliance.  In the past, competitors would point a finger in NPS’ direction and complain about a level playing field.   Funeral directors generally stayed out of that fray because they were being paid by NPS.  With the issues being reported by trade journals about NPS, funeral directors need to reevaluate their agreements with the third party seller. 

To NPS’ credit, they can bring economies of scale to bear on a casket company that small funeral homes can not.  But what about the funeral home’s existing agreements with casket vendors?   What happens if NPS’ relationship with the Chinese sours in five years?   Does the NPS proposal put funeral homes at risk in satisfying the terms of the preneed contracts?  In one perspective, NPS has put the funeral director and the preneed purchaser in the same boat, that being dependent on NPS and its casket vendor being able to perform at some point in the future.

Funeral directors should heed the advice that Josh Slocum gave consumers after the AARP published its notorious RIP Off article:  take your contract to an attorney for advice about your rights.