Missouri preneed law (past and present) authorizes three forms of funding: trusts, insurance and joint accounts. Of the three, joint accounts have been used by many rural funeral homes that did not want the hassles of trusts and insurance. But with new reporting requirements, these funeral homes are on the clock to pull together information and seek certifications from bankers who, up to this point, haven’t been required to review a preneed contract.
With regard to their joint account funded contracts, the funeral home with a seller’s license has two renewal forms that must be filed by October 31st. The seller renewal form includes a report of contracts sold since August 28, 2009. That report has to be certified by the bank that maintains the joint account.
The provider renewal form requires a report of all active joint account contracts sold prior to August 28, 2009. In contrast to the seller renewal form, this report does not have to be certified by the banker. But, the State Board is requesting that funeral homes with joint accounts file a third report by January 31, 2011. While the January report is voluntary, it will require a bank certification for the number of contracts, the total face of the contracts and the amount paid by the consumer.
The refusal (or failure) to file the voluntary report will likely affect the nature and timing of the funeral home’s financial exam. The State Board has to perform a financial review of each “seller” once every five years. The State Board also has the authority to perform a financial review of providers. Regardless of whether the funeral home gave up the joint account contract when SB1 went into effect, the State Board will eventually review the contracts and accounts listed on the Provider renewal form that is due on October 31st.
In preparing the joint account reports, funeral homes need to read the instructions carefully. The forms are seeking information about the contracts sales price, what was deposited to the joint account and any distributions that have been made. Unlike trust-funded contracts, all consumer payments have to be deposited to a joint account (there is no 20% retainage for the joint account contract). Nor may the funeral home withdraw income from the joint account.
For the funeral home that takes the defiant stance about their preneed, be sure your contracts and CDs (or depository accounts) are in order. If you have doubts about the compliance of the contract forms or the amount in the bank, you may want to seek guidance from the Board’s inspectors.