In a move to remain autonomous from the funeral industry and its oversight, the Missouri cemetery industry met with its regulator during the summer of 2008 to discuss reform legislation. Disagreements precluded effective legislation from being passed in 2009, but extensive changes was passed in 2010, and became effective on August 28, 2010. Now, the Missouri cemetery regulator has the task of implementing the law, and notifying cemetery operators and trustees of the new requirements.
Missouri’s Cemetery Endowed Care Trust Law (Sections 214.270 et seq) is administered by the Office of Endowed Care Cemeteries. A brief summary of the new law’s requirements can be found on the OECC’s website.
The new law makes substantial changes to perpetual care trusts (Section 214.330), sales documents (Section 214.282) and the preneed merchandise sales (Section 214.387).
Some perpetual care trusts define capital gains as income.
The new law incorporates the uniform principal and income act, precluding capital gains from being treated as income. This change is being imposed retroactively to existing trusts, thus forcing many cemeteries to amend their trust agreements. But, the new law does authorize fixed distributions that can exceed the trust’s income.
The new law also imposes the following requirements on perpetual care trusts:
A. Trust records must be made accessible to OECC examiners.
B. Trust instruments must be filed for approval.
C. Sales documents for interment rights and merchandise must comply with the Law, or the contract can be voided with interest refundable to the consumer.
D. The OECC can order the trustee to suspend your PC distributions.
E. PC deposits must be made on a monthly basis (instead of semi-annually).
F. The PC requirements have been raised for certain interment rights.
With regard to preneed, cemeteries must start from scratch. The prior law provided a low trusting requirement for services (opening and closings), and a segregated account requirement for marker and monument sales. To avoid the funeral licensing and trusting requirements of SB1, Missouri cemeteries must now comply with RSMo. Section 214.387. (To read a prior post on the new trusting requirement click here.)
Section 214.387 will require a cemetery to establish either an escrow account or a new trust, and comply with the following:
A. Escrow agents must be independent of the cemetery.
B. Escrow agreements and trust agreements must be filed with the OECC for approval.
C. Twenty percent of consumer payments may be retained but all subsequent payments must be deposited to a trust or an escrow account.
D. If a trust is used, all income must remain in the trust.
E. Deposits must be made within 60 days of receipt by the cemetery.
F. Preneed reporting to the OECC will begin in 2011.
G. New sales contract forms are required.
Banks that serve as a cemetery trustee will soon be receiving a letter advising of the new requirements. Missouri cemeteries will have more than New Year’s resolutions to prepare for 2011.