The monks of St. Joseph Abbey received good news in their battle to sell caskets when a Federal appeals court affirmed a lower court’s decision that struck down a Louisiana law that would have required the monks to either open a licensed funeral home or get a funeral director’s license. The District Court held that the restriction on casket sales amounted to a brand of economic protectionism that was not a legitimate state interest. The Court of Appeals applies a test that we find relevant to current controversies in Missouri and Kansas, but for this blog post we want to question whether the opinion would have been different if court had been asked to review the application of a preneed law to the preneed sale of Trappist caskets.

The purpose for preneed laws, protecting consumer payments until delivery is made, would seem to be equally applicable to funeral homes, cemeteries, casket stores, monument vendors or Trappist monks. However, most state preneed laws were written when the death care industry did not have significant competition for casket, vault and marker sales. Consequently, preneed laws are directed at death care licensees, and the occasional examiner or auditor will not be checking on the casket store to determine its compliance with the preneed law. If the casket store is making preneed sales, and marketing to out of state residents, multiple preneed laws could be implicated. The casket store’s website may reflect whether it offers deferred delivery. One of the Trappist’s websites offered the following:

Advance Arrangements

Peace of Mind for You and Your Family

Selecting a casket prior to need is a gift you can give your family. This arrangement ensures your wishes are met by securing your choice of casket for future use. By purchasing your casket in advance of need, you are relieving loved ones from making this often difficult decision, while closing your life’s story on your own terms.

Purchase at Today’s Prices Now, Ship When Needed

A pre-need arrangement with the Trappist monks of New Melleray Abbey allows you to purchase in advance, and have it shipped to the destination desired by your family at the appropriate time. You can rest assured the casket that you ordered will be available for immediate shipment when the time of need arrives.

We at Trappist Caskets feel very blessed to be able to so humbly provide these caskets, made with the work of our hands and with prayer in our hearts, to bring some small measure of comfort and solace to families in their times of need.

I hesitated to post on this issue because I love the Trappist’s ale so much, but preneed regulators need to be uniform and consistent.