The Comptroller’s Office mailed out letters to funeral homes last week advising how to report the first contribution to the Pre-Need Funeral Consumer Protection Fund. The letter tracks the first few paragraphs of the “Senate Bill 1682 Information” page from the Comptroller’s website.
The funeral home letter includes two documents: a Fee Payment Record and a Bank Confirmation Form. For each contract sold, the funeral home must deposit $5 to the Consumer Protection Fund. The $5 may be funded out of the consumer’s payments. The Fee Payment Record will be used to record each pre-need contract for which the funeral home has made a deposit.
The Bank Confirmation Form is intended to establish an audit trail for the mass exodus of preneed funds from self trusted accounts, and from the IFDA master trust. This form serves to put funeral home’s pre-need trustee on notice that it will be required to provide records to the Comptroller’s Office.
The Comptroller’s letter to funeral homes omits information that the website page provides consumers. Fiduciaries that are accepting Illinois pre-need trusts should take note of the Comptroller’s consumer information:
Notice to Consumers — Your independent trustee must provide an annual notice to all consumers of the status of their funds including an explanation of any fees charged by the trustee, an explanation of the purchaser’s right to a refund and identification of the primary regulator of the trust or insurance company under state or federal law. Here are some suggestions for ensuring compliance with the new provisions:
· Be sure the corporate fiduciary or insurance company that you use is aware of this requirement.
· Be sure the corporate fiduciary or insurance company provides you with a copy of the annual notice.
· Retain a copy of this annual notice in your file.
Historically, preneed fiduciaries have defined their duties by treating the death care operator as the trust beneficiary, and the trust as a single account. The Comptroller’s trustee requirements reflect a trend that forces the fiduciary to factor the consumer into the beneficiary equation, and to provide an accounting on an individual contract basis.