At age 78, Darrell Bennett should be spending his days on a Florida golf course. Instead, he is back in Michigan trying to salvage his life’s work. Like so many funeral home owners, Mr. Bennett handed over the keys to someone he trusted and took back a note for the purchase price. According to stories published by the MonroeNews and Fox News in Toledo, Brad Prochnow not only failed to make good on Mr. Bennett’s note, he also kept preneed payments made by consumers.

With rising cremation rates, preneed funding failures, and the allure of retirement, a growing number of funeral home owners are thinking about an exit strategy. The decline in funeral home profitability will require more of a plan than taking back a note.

Mr. Bennett hopes that the industry will learn from his experience and take steps to better safeguard consumers’ preneed funds. Another lesson to be learned is that a proper succession/exit strategy involves planning, financial analysis and due diligence. Hiring a consultant or an accounting firm may seem an unnecessary expense, but a view of Mr. Bennett’s interview would suggest otherwise (youtube).