Like the Swine Flu, a preneed virus has been spreading across the Midwest. Looking for a cure, state legislators and regulators have been forming research teams. It all started last summer, with Missouri’s Chapter 436 (funeral) working group and Chapter 214 (cemetery) working group. Now, Illinois is establishing a preneed task force, and Kansas is forming a cemetery committee. But, in contrast to the Missouri Chapter 436 working group, the forthcoming preneed research teams are limiting the industry’s involvement in the proceedings. It’s not that the patient has a terminal condition that is contagious, but rather a reflection that organizing industry participation can be akin to herding cats.
Take the May edition of the American Funeral Director as an example. There are no less than six articles addressing preneed. As Mr. Creedy points out, everyone in the industry has an opinion and some can’t help but apply a general prescription for the preneed transaction. But, preneed is governed by more than 50 different state laws, making the transaction impervious to such generalizations. Boiling the issues down for the sake of an editor’s guidelines only contributes to the confusion of our industry members. While these types of articles often quote experts with opposing (and often, valid) opinions, death care operators tend to remember only the opinions that support their preneed program (or, supports their opposition to another form of preneed).
The preneed problem involves complex issues that require an in-depth analysis by our respective state legislators and regulators. For the sake of our consumers, we need to provide legislators and regulators objective and unbiased information about all aspects of preneed.
This patient is very ill, but not terminal. There are no easy cures or solutions.