Monitoring rise seen for funeral statutes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More monitoring and flexibility for customers will be the primary effect of changes Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said are coming in Mississippi’s pre-need funeral arrangement statutes.

Changes to take effect July 1 will direct $10 from each customer’s contract be placed in a trust to build up a fund geared to protect the consumers against future reported contract breaches.

Also, Hosemann said Tuesday as he geared up for a press conference and training session for funeral directors in Tupelo, payments for pre-need services will be portable, except for grave spaces, and customers can check in on funds available with trust officers to be set up at banks.

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“It’s more of a clarification than a change,” Hosemann said. “If you move to the Coast and die there, then the money (for pre-need services) has to go to the company providing services.”

Previously, Hosemann said, stability and actual payments by some in the industry to pre-need trust accounts was “questionable” at best.

When passed in 2001, the state’s Pre-Need Act stipulated that 50 percent of funds prepaid for burial and related services had to be deposited in a trust fund.

In 2006, it was amended to 85 percent.

Green Acres Memorial Park on U.S. 80 is in court-ordered receivership after a statewide sweep by Hosemann’s office found more than $373,000 was missing from its pre-need trust account.

As of Sept. 30, 2008, the trust’s balance was just $221.60.

In March, bed and breakfast owner and former cemetery operator Harry Sharp was chosen by the state as head of a receivership in charge of all the cemetery’s financial and personnel dealings.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at