In their last meeting, the members of the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors took a small, but important pivot in the preneed examination process. The State Board approved a recommendation made by the Financial Examination Committee that the Committee review each examination report and prepare the letter that accompanies the report to the preneed seller. The Board will use this new procedure to assess the seriousness of the exceptions and to use the letter as an education opportunity.
Since the examination process was initiated more than six years ago, the staff conducted the examination and forwarded an exceptions report to the preneed seller. Those exception reports included all issues found by the examiner, regardless of severity. For some, the exception reports dinged the seller for ‘missing’ files that the examiner failed to locate before leaving the funeral home. The exception report also included issues on contracts for which the funeral home was not the seller. The inclusion of such issues on the exception report led many funeral homes to complain that the State Board staff was ‘out of control’, and resulted in funeral homes going on the defensive when responding to the State Board.
The State Board also signaled that this is only the first change to be made to the preneed examination process. But, getting the Board’s industry members more engaged in the examination process is critical to resolving the long standing disputes over record keeping requirements and the future scope of preneed examinations. As witnessed by the recent news story out of Perryville, Missouri has its share of problem preneed sellers. The State Board needs to assume a proactive role protecting consumer funds and that starts with more involvement in the exam process.