As reported in several prior posts, the preneed examination process in Missouri has been a work in progress for the past five years. Funeral homes in that state have been selling preneed for more than 30 years without much oversight or recordkeeping guidelines. When the law was re-written in 2009 in response to the NPS collapse, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors was given the responsibility of examining each preneed seller at least once every 5 years. Now that each seller has been through an examination, the Board has the task of defining the seller’s record requirements so that the exam process can be streamlined. But streamlining the process will require guidelines that the Missouri industry can follow. Missouri has hundreds of preneed sellers that use joint accounts or trusts or insurance or, sometimes, a combination of all three. The examination process is further complicated when the seller uses different procedures for a single funding mechanism. For example, sellers with trust funded contracts frequently have some consumers making payments directly to the trustee and other consumers making payments to the funeral home.
With that background, one would have to look at the seller’s records proposal to be discussed this Wednesday by the Missouri State Board as a starting point. While the Board’s staff is under some pressure to initiate the next round of preneed examinations, the proposal does not provide sufficient guidance to sellers who want to make the next exam less painful. In our January 3rd post (Missouri Second Round of Exams:100% Reviews), we described the back and forth process that the State Board and its staff must navigate to define the next round of exams. To expedite that process, the State Board and their staff need to include the industry in the process of defining seller record requirements.