The wait for Ms. Garrett’s lawsuit against NPS, the Cassity family (and anyone remotely connected with the Cassity Consortium) ended on August 7th.
If half of the allegations made in the NPS Complaint are true, the misconduct perpetrated on funeral homes and consumers is shocking to say the least. The Complaint provides a bevy of reform issues to explore. However, NOLHIGA and state regulators must be careful in their zeal to recover assets and implement reform.
A search of the Complaint for the term “independent investment advisor” will produce ten hits, with most of the substantive issues addressed on Pages 52 through 57. Chapter 436 of the Missouri statutes authorizes a preneed seller to designate an independent investment advisor to make investment decisions for the trust when it has more than $250,000 of assets. In doing so, the trustee is relieved of all liability regarding the investment decisions by the investment advisor.
As many larger Missouri sellers did, NPS designated an ‘independent’ investment advisor. The Complaint alleges that the investment advisor gave NPS free reign over the various trusts to perpetrate various frauds, including the purchase of the Lincoln Memorial insurance policies.
With regard to the fiduciary duties of the independent investment advisor, Complaint Paragraph 179 hits the nail on the head:
As purportedly “independent” investment advisors, Defendants Wulf and Wulf
Bates owed fiduciary duties to NPS as the entity that settled and funded the NPS pre-need trust accounts, and to the funeral homes and consumers as the beneficiaries of the pre-need trusts. Those fiduciary duties include, without limitation, loyalty, care, good faith, candor, sound business judgment, forthrightness, and fairness, through their direction and control over the trust funds.
In rubberstamping the NPS instructions, this investment advisor neglected his duties to the funeral homes and consumers.
In an effort to hold the NPS trustees accountable under Section 436.031, the Complaint alleges the investment advisor was not ‘independent’. This begs more than one question, but the first one that comes to mind is: independent of whom?