Death Care Compliance Law

Death Care Compliance Law

Preneed: A Pandora's Box of Problems

William Stalter is the founder of Stalter Legal Services and the Preneed Resource Company. Bill focuses his law practice on preneed and death care compliance, serving banks, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries. He has written multiple published articles

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Missouri Preneed Examination Changes: the Small Seller Proposal

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

The Missouri State Board of Embalmer and Funeral Directors met this past December to discuss changes to the Preneed Examination Handbook, and former Board Chairman Don Lakin made a proposal that has merit. The State Board has licensed approximately 315 preneed sellers.  The current preneed examination procedures contemplate an onsite visit to each seller.  Many… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Exam Handbook: The Four Corners of the Manual

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

Our next criticism of Missouri’s pending Exam Handbook is its violation of the Four Corners Rule, which requires a document to stand on its own when being interpreted and applied.  Common law precludes parties from going to outside sources when applying the document to different situations.  While the Handbook gives lip service to the Four Corners… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Exam Handbook: Reviewing All Contracts for What Purposes?

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1, Uncategorized

The newest edition of the Missouri Preneed Exam Handbook has some significant problems.  The one we will discuss today is ambiguous instructions regarding the review of preneed contracts.  Paragraph 13 of the Handbook’s scope of financial examination states: 13) Staff shall look at 100% of all active preneed contracts that have been sold since the period… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Preneed Exam: Prioritizing the Exceptions

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

“Nitpicking” was one of the terms frequently used by Missouri funeral directors when referencing their preneed exam exceptions report.  (Other descriptions are not appropriate for print.)  The initial exam guideline provided no guidance to examiners for prioritizing problems found in preneed contracts and records.  It was common to see exception reports with dozens, even hundreds,… Continue Reading

Missouri Preneed Exam Procedures: New Receipt and Transmission Records

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1, Recordkeeping

Missouri’s pending preneed exam handbook will establish a new record keeping requirement for the state’s preneed sellers: monthly records of consumer payment receipts and the transmission of those funds to the preneed funding agent.  Seller record keeping proposals are not new to the Board.   (Missouri Seller Records: The State Board Proposal) The Board’s staff proposed… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Preneed Exam Handbook: How to Spot the Cheaters

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

The Missouri State Board’s proposed exam handbook places a new emphasis on tracking consumer payments to funeral homes.  There are two elements to the Board’s strategy: confirming the consumer’s funds make it to the appropriate funding agent, and that those funds are remitted to that funding agent within the time periods required by Chapter 436. … Continue Reading

Missouri’s Next Preneed Exam Manual: Start Following the Money

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1, Recordkeeping, Uncategorized

The Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors introduced a new preneed examination handbook at its October meeting.  (Click the following hyperlink to access the preneed handbook.)  The proposed handbook would change the emphasis of the preneed exams from contract and recordkeeping compliance to tracking consumer funds paid to the funeral home. For most… Continue Reading

NY Times: But Mom said everything was taken care of

Posted in Prepaid Funeral Contract, Preplanning, Transition Documents

We’re back to that recent New York Times article about funeral planning.  The reporter offers spot on advice about the ‘gaps’ of preneed arrangements.  A surviving parent will frequently advise adult children that they need not worry about his (or her) funeral because they have purchased a preneed contract.  As the article suggests, adult children… Continue Reading

New York Times: How to Plan Your Own Funeral

Posted in Guaranteed, Non-guaranteed, Preneed, Prepaid Funeral Contract, Transition Documents

Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a story that on funeral planning that raised several valid issues and recommendations.  We will use the next few blog posts to explore certain issues and recommendations in greater detail.   With this post we will start with the article’s discussion of prepaying for a preneed contract, and… Continue Reading

The Missouri State Board: But Will the Division Change its Ways?

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

The rift between the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and their Executive Director culminated in her resignation effective June 30th.    Over the course of the past several years, the State Board drew the ire of the industry in a number of ways.   The staff implemented regulation proposals before they were officially promulgated,… Continue Reading

Missouri Preneed Exam Procedures: Industry Expertise

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1, Uncategorized

Our first recommendation to the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors is that they assume, and maintain, control over the preneed examination procedures.    The exam procedures implemented two years ago were never submitted to the Board for review and approval.  Accordingly, the examination procedures handbook should remind the staff that any change made… Continue Reading

Missouri Preneed Fees: Making Guaranteed Contracts Affordable to the Funeral Home

Posted in Price Protection, Uncategorized

It only took 15 months, but the Missouri State Board finally approved a rule to clarify what fees a preneed seller may charge when offering a guaranteed price contract to consumers.   Low investment returns from insurance and trusts forced many funeral homes to stop offering guaranteed price contracts to consumers.  Funeral homes’ cost increases were… Continue Reading

Missouri State Funeral Board: Unwinding Two Staff Overreaches

Posted in Missouri - SB1, Uncategorized

At its April 25th meeting, the Missouri State Board unwound two controversial staff proposals: mandatory consumer disclosures for preneed contracts and the formation of an insurance funded contract.  With 20 CSR 2120-3.205 , the Board staff sought to require Missouri preneed sellers to provide consumers with a two page list of disclosures.  Those disclosures proved… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Funeral Board: Taking Back the Reins

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

The April 25th meeting of the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors marked an important transition where industry members assumed control over the protection of consumers’ preneed funds.   After the first round of financial examinations, the Board’s procedures for the second round were defined by the Board’s staff, and never submitted to the… Continue Reading

Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors: Ten Years after NPS

Posted in Compliance, Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

Ten years after the collapse of NPS, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors has a confidence problem with licensees and legislators.  Licensees see a regulator that is obsessed with DBAs, renewal reports, and exams that focus on contract provisions.  Legislators see a regulator that will not fulfill the SB1 mandate to protect… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Record Keeping Meeting(s): A Date to Be Determined

Posted in Associations, Exams/audits, Master Trusts, Missouri - SB1, Recordkeeping

In preceding posts, we have outlined recommendations to the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors regarding the preneed examination process and record keeping requirements.  While our correspondence was not included on the Board’s December 13th agenda, the Board entertained a motion to amend the agenda to include our correspondence on the afternoon open… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Preneed Examination Process: A New Focus

Posted in Exams/audits, Missouri - SB1

For the first round of Missouri preneed examinations, the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors had no choice but to jump into preneed sellers’ records and files.  Hundreds of funeral home had been selling preneed for decades without supervision or record keeping requirements.   So, the first exam objective was to look at everything and… Continue Reading

Missouri’s Funeral Board: Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Posted in Exams/audits, Recordkeeping

Two years ago, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors met in Independence to discuss their staff’s recommendations for seller record keeping requirements and the scope of preneed examinations.  As the minutes somewhat reflect, the staff proposals were met with strong public opposition.   (This blog documented those issues in prior posts that are listed… Continue Reading