License renewal packets mailed to Missouri funeral homes in August are a little thicker than what has been sent out in prior years. The new renewal forms include five new preneed reporting forms: a Preneed Seller Annual Report, a Preneed Provider Renewal Form, a Report form for Trust Funded Pre-Need Contracts, a Report form for Joint Account Funded Pre-Need Contracts, and a Report form for Insurance Funded Pre-Need Contracts.

The latter three reports are voluntary, self-reporting forms that the State Board ‘requests’ be filed by January 31, 2010. In future posts, this blog will address those forms and the motivation for complying with the State Board’s request.

As between the two renewal report forms, the shorter provider license renewal form may be the source of anxiety to some Missouri funeral directors. The instructions for Section E state:

List all preneed contracts that were in existence with a preneed provider as of August 27, 2009 pursuant to 436.053 RSMo, if any.

Missouri has a long history of third party preneed sales organizations, and Chapter 436 has always made a legal distinction between the seller and the provider. Over the course of the last twenty-eight years, the synonyms APS, NPS, FSP and MFT can be found on the majority of preneed contracts sold in the state of Missouri. Missouri funeral homes opted for third party sales organizations for various reasons, including the avoidance of accounting and recordkeeping issues. Accordingly, funeral directors who interpret the Section E instructions to require the reporting of their third party contracts have reason to be alarmed.

However, the instructions refer to Section 436.053 (of the ‘old Chapter 436’), which authorized funeral homes to use joint accounts to fund preneed contracts. This old provision allowed funeral homes to sell the joint account contract as a provider without registering as preneed seller. The intent of the report seems to be the reporting of joint account contracts written prior to the effective date of Senate Bill No. 1, and not the reporting of all contracts sold on behalf of the funeral home by a third party seller. This is bound to be one of the issues raised with the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors when it meets during the second week of September.