The Special Deputy Receiver for National Prearranged Services recently filed a Bill of Costs with the Federal trial court. The Bill of Costs seeks to recover copy charges of more than $500,000 from a former NPS trustee. Those costs do not include attorneys’ fees. Litigation can be very costly.
Missouri’s preneed regulators are keenly aware of the costs of the NPS lawsuit, and accordingly, have been challenging the Missouri Funeral Trust regarding how it is financing its lawsuit against the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. In pleadings filed with the Circuit Court, the State has sought confirmation that the MFT is not using consumers’ trust funds. The program’s executive director stoked that issue at a recent State Board meeting when he advised that the program trustee should not be required to disclose whether attorneys’ fees are being paid from the trust. As a defense to that statement, the executive director advised that preneed purchasers do not have a right to trust income on the cancellation of a contract. That statement ignores the Chapter 436 provisions that allow a purchaser to name an alternative provider and transfer their trust. The statement also ignores whether the funeral home providers have a right to a disclosure by the trustee of the payment of attorneys’ fees, and how those fees are being allocated. More appropriately, the MFT trustee would owe provider funeral homes an explanation of why litigation expenditures are necessary and in beneficiaries’ best interests.