Regulators in California, Missouri and Kansas have already implemented strategies that are intended to make preneed fiduciaries more accountable to the consumer. Over the past few weeks, this blog has covered new reporting requirements in Missouri and the audit drama playing out in California. In Kansas, the fiduciary for a failed cemetery has been sued for various breaches of state law. Because the pool of experienced preneed fiduciaries is relatively small, the events transpiring west of the Mississippi River will influence many Illinois fiduciaries to spend some time with SB1682.
One SB1682 requirement that has already caused a rift between funeral homes and preneed fiduciaries is the annual statement requirement. Illinois law now requires the trustee to report to the preneed purchaser receipts, disbursements, and “an inventory of the trust” (including expenses).
Recent statements reflected substantial account decreases, and that has strained the relationship between the funeral home and some of its consumers. While funeral homes would rather avoid inflaming consumers with news about deteriorating accounts, the fiduciary is bound by law to provide the consumer an annual accounting.
IFDA members can deflect some consumer complaints, but eventually, the buck will stop with the funeral director. To regain consumer confidence, funeral directors should be prepared to show they have a plan for the funds entrusted with them.