Funeral Industry News

New Bill Aims to Protect Pre-Paid Funeral Funds

August 27, 2009

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New Bill Aims to Protect Pre-Paid Funeral Funds

image A bill making it’s way through the General Assembly aims to protect families who’ve recently lost a loved one. It’s in response to problems with a pre-paid funeral fund. In the past several years– the Illinois Funeral Directors Association has lost millions of dollars set aside for people’s final arrangements. Funeral preparations are the third-largest expenditure for older consumers. Ranking behind the purchase of a home or a car.

“Most people are older, their kids are gone, they don’t want to burden their family,” explained funeral director Monte Blue.

He’s run Blue Funeral Homes in Marion and Goreville for decades. Lately, he says he’s seeing more and more people pre-pay to make sure that the costs of arrangements, including caskets and burials are taken care of.

In most cases, Blue says, those investments are safe. Even if money was invested with the Illinois Funeral Director’s Association trust fund. “The funeral director is basically the one that is at risk right now.”

But according to AARP Illinois spokesman David Irwin, if a funeral director goes bankrupt or out of business, a family could be in a financial pinch just as they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Senate Bill 1682 aims to shield consumers in-part by creating a protection fund in case funeral homes don’t fulfill their end of the deal.

The new legislation imposes higher investment standards and strengthens auditing requirements, among other things. It would also require more communication with prepaid funeral customers, like monthly statements.

Blue has tips for protecting yourself.

First, make sure your pre-paid fund is transferable, “In case you move to Florida or that director goes out of business.”

And be sure to choose a guaranteed plan. That way–even if the funeral director’s fund loses money–you’re protected.

“If you guarantee and pay for this funeral, no matter what is in the account, that money, you’ve got to take care of that family,” Blue said.

By Dana Jay, WSIL Southern Illinios News Channel,