NPS salesmen had quite a reputation. Commission driven, some were reported to have earned a healthy six-figure salary. And, some had no prior experience in the funeral industry.

To curb the excesses committed by NPS salesmen, Missouri preneed reform bill requires preneed salesmen to be licensed, with a condition that they “have successfully passed the Missouri law examination as designated by the board”.

Since the effective date of the law (August 28th), preneed agents have been required to take the same law examination required of funeral directors. That examination has proved difficult for many preneed agent applicants, and issues were presented to the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors at their February 4th meeting. The State Board held an open meeting by conference call on February 11th to facilitate further discussion of preneed agent licensing and the Missouri Law Test.

Two basic positions emerged during the February 11th conference call. The funeral directors’ camp views the preneed contract as the sale of a funeral, which should require the licensed funeral director. The proactive preneed seller views the preneed contract as a funding vehicle to pay for the goods and services described in the contract, which would require the salesman to be knowledgeable about the requirements of Chapter 436.

Historically, most Missouri preneed contracts were of the guaranteed variety. If the preneed contract was performed with little or no variation to the prearranged funeral, then the contract represents the purchase of a funeral. But, some families change the terms of their preneed contracts, and under such circumstances, the contract represents a funding vehicle. As more non-guaranteed contracts and final expense products become more common, fewer preneed contracts will represent the “sale of a funeral”.

For the time being, the State Board will continue to require the same law examination given to applicants for a funeral director’s license. But, is the funeral industry best served by restricting preneed agent licensing to legal testing imposed on funeral directors?