Prosecutors and investigators have commented to our office about how difficult it can be to prove preneed fraud. They won’t know whether the consumer has been harmed until the death of the contract beneficiary, and then whether the funeral is provided. In Missouri, prosecuting a bad apple funeral director got much easier as of January 1, 2017. We discussed the “Oklahoma Option” in a blog post made almost two years ago.
There remains a significant hurdle to the Oklahoma Option in Missouri: the adequacy of preneed seller records. The State Board and its staff have gone back and forth for more than a year over a rule to define adequate seller records. The original rule was vague and confusing. The industry suggested informal meetings to discuss record options, but ultimately, the staff requested, and received, until the Fall of 2016 to submit a more detailed rule proposal. But in September, the Board tabled the staff’s record keeping rule as unresponsive to their instructions. In a series of subsequent blog posts, we addressed the issues we had with the staff’s proposal.
The Oklahoma Option is why we have advocated that seller records include more detail about monthly receipt and deposit records. (Follow this hyperlink.) Even if the State Board will not proactively refer cases to local prosecutors for criminal proceedings, they must not handcuff the prosecutor with record keeping requirements that fall short.