The Kansas Secretary of State’s office bore the brunt of the criticism for a Hutchinson cemetery that siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars from its trust funds. That office has the responsibility of auditing cemetery trust funds (preneed merchandise and care funds). But, poor record keeping on the part of the cemetery industry has made the auditor’s work difficult, if not impossible. Accordingly, the KSOS office implemented a new reporting system last year that requires cemetery corporations to file quarterly reports regarding their sales of preneed and interment rights. These new reports are intended to enable the office to more closely monitor the cemetery’s trusting requirements. This reporting mechanism has another requirement that went into effect on January 1st: corresponding reporting by the banks and trust companies that administer the cemetery’s trust funds.
House Bill No. 2240 amends the cemetery merchandise law and the permanent maintenance fund law to impose several reporting duties on the trustee. For each type of fund, the trustee must prepare quarterly reports on formats approved by the Secretary of State’s office. With regard to merchandise funds, the trustee must also report its allocation of income to the merchandise and services sold by the cemetery.
For many of those banks and trust companies serving as cemetery fiduciaries, these reporting requirements will come as a rude awakening. Few cemetery fiduciaries are aware that these accounts are subject to a separate set of Kansas laws. Consequently, these banks often price their services as a custodial relationship. Many will not want the fiduciary relationship and its new reporting requirements. With the first fiduciary reports due May 1st, the upcoming Memorial Day will be hectic for Kansas cemeteries for more than the usual reasons.