The Missouri preneed industry faces a long and stormy summer.
The Missouri legislature seems to be listening to regulators’ requests for much needed authorities for examinations, audits and rulemaking. A draft bill providing emergency powers to the Division of Professional Registration has emerged as legislation that may be signed into law before the current session ends next week. In contrast to most bills enacted into law, this one is rumored to have an immediate effective date.
If the bill is signed into law, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will begin to study methods for implementing the preneed inspection powers to determine whether the state’s preneed problems extend beyond the NPS failure. Though meant to demonstrate the industry’s overall compliance with Chapter 436, recent testimony at legislative hearings may have undermined regulators’ confidence in the industry’s past efforts to comply with current law.
One approach the State Board will consider is a comprehensive desk top examination of each seller’s fundamental compliance with Chapter 436. Approximately 12 years ago, the State Board contemplated a broad based review process that would have sought basic information about the three methods of funding: trust, insurance and joint accounts. However, the initiative could not be pursued because the State Board lacked the authority to require compliance by licensees.
I could not attend recent a hearing where industry members testified before legislators to provide assurances that most funeral directors do comply with Chapter 436. If the description provided to me about the testimony of one well intended funeral director was accurate, funeral homes need to take a refresher on the requirements of Chapter 436. I have heard similar misstatements by funeral directors at recent State Board meetings.
I anticipate that The Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association is already working on Chapter 436 compliance courses to provide its members. Association members would be well advised to take such a course before assuming their funeral home is in compliance.