March 29, 2007
Jefferson City, Mo.— A southern Missouri funeral home that did not adequately fund contracts for pre-need funeral services will ensure that those contracts are fully funded, under an agreement obtained by Attorney General Jay Nixon. The assurance of voluntary compliance, reached by Nixon with Duncan Funeral Home Inc. of Mountain View and Missouri Funeral Trust Inc. of Jefferson City, was approved by the Cole County Circuit Court on Tuesday, March 27.
Missouri Funeral Trust (MFT) contracts are sold by a number of funeral homes across Missouri, including Duncan Funeral Homes. According to Nixon, Duncan sold the contracts for pre-need funeral services to consumers but failed to fully fund the contracts, or did not fund them at all. All told, consumers’ contracts were underfunded by a total of $210,517.84.
“Consumers purchase pre-need funeral plans to have the assurance that these arrangements are paid for and taken care of ahead of time,” Nixon said. “Adherence to our laws and regulations governing pre-need funeral funds is vital to protect consumers, and this agreement serves notice that we will take appropriate action when we believe fraud has occurred.”
The agreement cites three groups of contracts entered into by consumers that were not adequately funded:
Under the agreement, MFT must place the amount of unfunded or underfunded contracts ($167,588) from the first two groups into an escrow account. Duncan Funeral Homes must provide any funeral services purchased by consumers who hold contracts in any of the three groups. Duncan must also produce a promissory note in an amount equal to the third group of contracts ($42,929), secured by a deed of trust in favor of the Attorney General’s Office on real estate owned by Duncan. Should a consumer’s funeral services that were already paid for not be provided, the Attorney General’s Office has the authority under the agreement to utilize funds out of the escrow account or promissory note to pay the difference.
Both MFT and Duncan are also required to pay $2,450 each to the state to cover the costs of the investigation and enforcement of the case.