Missouri’s preneed reform legislation will be amended on the House floor in the next day or so, and some of the Representatives have heard that old phrase about legislating morality. There is some truth to that phrase, and to some of the other objections raised against the reform legislation.
Preneed oversight will impose a substantial financial burden on a strapped state government and regulators lack the requisite experience to define the future course of preneed. However, these objections seem to wither when read in conjunction with the ‘excuses’ of the IFDA member funeral homes.
In a nutshell, Illinois funeral directors did not perform due diligence with regard to the management of their master trust. Instead, funeral directors placed their trust in their elected leadership, who then placed their trust in an investment advisor.
For those of us who work in this industry there is one given fact: funeral directors are caregivers by nature, and would rather spend their time with a family than the preneed trust’s accountant, attorney and investment manager. Well respected industry leaders are calling the current preneed situation “nuts”, and recommend that funeral directors focus on what they do best: serve the family. This advice resonates with most funeral directors, but they also know that families have come to expect the preneed option. But if preneed is to be offered, funeral directors must begin doing their homework.
Two years ago, Sue Simon wrote about Missouri’s triple-dipping trusts. One might have thought NPS’ demise brought this issue to an end, but that is not the case. A program utilizing a variable annuity product is being marketed to Missouri funeral directors. The promises made with regard to this product seem familiar to those made to the IFDA.
Depending on the final version of Missouri’s preneed reform legislation, funeral directors and fiduciaries may be forced to explain the condition of their preneed trusts. It would be best to put the Illinois Secretary of State’s questions to the investment advisor before the investment is made, rather than after.