The Illinois Division of Insurance made the right call: the IFDA master trust does not have an insurable interest in the lives of the members who participate in the trust.

A preneed trust is intended to fund the liability that arises when the preneed beneficiary dies and a funeral must be provided. Accordingly, it is appropriate for a preneed trust to hold insurance covering the life of the contract beneficiary. At the time of death, the trust will receive insurance proceeds, and if the trust is established correctly, the proceeds are excluded from being taxed pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 101(a). The amount distributed by the trust to the funeral home is treated as ordinary income.

While the funeral director may have a financial interest in the performance of the preneed contract, the director’s death does not create a liability for the preneed trust. In the absence of a risk of loss, the policy held by the preneed trust is taxed as though it were an investment contract. Once the fiduciary factors in the tax consequences and the mortality charge, the decision to dump the key man policies makes sense.

Now the accusations turn to why this wasn’t done sooner. Or, why were these policies purchased in the first place. The broker’s excuse dodges the responsibilities he had to perform research, make inquiries and report accurately to the insurance companies.

Where was the IFDA counsel when these insurance purchases were being made?

Perhaps the regulators have exposure as well, but that may depend on what was disclosed by the IFDA (and when).