Funeral homes are still dying from debt costs
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Funeral homes are still dying from debt costs

Date: September 11, 2012
By: Christine Roto
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Funeral homes continue to struggle through debt build up.

Many funeral homes lost money for years because of the National Prearrangement Services' failure to provide funds on pre-arranged funerals. The NPS provided people insurance to make funeral arrangements. When the person died, the NPS was supposed to give the funeral homes money to cover the arrangements, however the NPS did not end up providing the funds. When the NPS failed to give the money for the arrangements, the funeral homes faced a decision to pay out of pocket to fulfill the contracts with the customers or shut down.

In 2008, state legislator passed the Guarantee Fund in which funeral homes debt would be relieved through the government funding. The funding, however, does not account for inflation costs, so as prices rise throughout years, funeral directors are still forced to pay the difference.

The Interim Committee on Pre-Need Funeral Trusts met Tuesday to listen to concerns from funeral directors and associations about how debt will be reimbursed. The committee is now looking for an alternative to the Guarantee Fund, possibly in a private firm, to relieve Missouri tax payers from paying for the debt.

Funeral directors gave testimony of the hardships their businesses have gone through.

J. Scott Lindley of Lindley Funeral Home proposed a plan for private firms to cover the costs.

Rep. Casey Guernsey, R-Bethany, said he hopes there can be some sort of private firm established to pay the funds the taxpayers are currently paying. A private firm would be able to allow for inflation prices to adjust as time goes on.  

Rep. Chris Molendorp, R-Belton, said the hearing was the first of many to discuss options on how to help the funeral homes with their losses.

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