Prepaid Funeral Trust Money Used For Conventions And Lobbying, Say Auditors

We’ve said repeatedly that prepaid funeral plans are bunk–the industry is too unregulated to be trustworthy, and it’s far too easy to lose money when you could just as easily set up a savings plan for a funeral on your own. Now there’s news from California that the state’s second-largest prepaid funeral trust was spending money “improperly” on everything from political lobbying to conventions, blowing $12.6 million from the $70 million paid in advance by customers.

“Audit finds Calif. funeral trust misspent money” [Associated Press]

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  1. Supes says:

    Just out of curiosity, what does the pre-pay funeral industry lobby for? Continued lack of regulation?

  2. Randell says:

    Even regulated a pre-paid funeral seems like a stupid idea. What happens when you purchase this in 2010 and you die in 2020, but the company you bought it from has gone bankrupt. Basically, you are giving an interest free loan to a company, and then YOU have no recourse when the product is to be delivered. I think that is one hassle your family shouldn’t have to deal with after the fact.
    Set up a joint account at your local bank or credit union to pay for this in advance. The joint holder would then be responsible to follow through on your wishes. Or in alternative, stop wasting the money and donate your body to a medical research school. Nobody NEEDS a $10k casket buried under dirt.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      Or, if you want to help fight crime, consider a donation to a body farm :)

      http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/donate-body-to-science-body-farm/

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        That’s what I’d like to do. I think my family is horrified. They don’t get it.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          It’s not that they don’t get it. It’s that you don’t get that they’ll still be alive and have to think about their loved one rotting away on the ground. You won’t be around anymore, so you won’t care.

      • dolemite says:

        Hmm no thanks. I recall studying cadavers in anatomy. One of them had the biggest shlong I’ve ever seen, including porn movies. Literally, it was like a small horse’s. I recall all of the female students giggling about it.

        I wouldn’t want the reverse to happen to me.

      • econobiker says:

        Some medical schools are selective and don’t want older heavy people’s bodies donated. Too many and to difficult to work on I guess…

    • lehrdude says:

      That’s the whole point of the funeral trust fund. They are putting a portion of all the money that you prepay them into a trust account that they are supposedly not allowed to touch. So, in 2020, when the company is bankrupt, your money, or most of it, is still there to go against your payment for your funeral. These trusts are highly regulated, hence the audit, and that company in California is most likely in deep poo poo…

      • Randell says:

        No, you are giving your money to the person who is PROFITING from it. A bank account protects you. The money can be used HOWEVER YOU WANT. Buying a pre-paid funeral is one of the stupidest financial decisions one could ever make.

  3. nbs2 says:

    In a way, I wouldn’t have a problem with blowing the money like this. If the service is provided when required, they can do whatever they want with the cash. It’s the failure to provide contracted services that causes the scheme to blow up.

  4. cmdr.sass says:

    There is no upside to prepaying for a funeral. The plans are usually sold through fear – “You don’t want your children to be stuck with the bill, do you?” or “Planning your funeral is the last thing your children want to do after you pass. Why make it hard on them?”.

    Put your final arrangements on paper and include a note about what account you’d like to use to pay for it.

    • AllanG54 says:

      Wrong. My parents prepaid their funeral costs. When my dad died all was taken care of. Matter of fact, my folks and all their friends and my grandparents all bought plots together. It saves time and money and having to worry about where they’re going to be buried. Plus, the interest that’s accrued is used against the price increases.

      • Randell says:

        Yes, because now that they are dead, being buried close to your friends means they can get together for cards and drinks? People are so stupid regarding death,. If you think proximity of dead bodies somehow keeps them together you really need to be institutionalized.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          If that idea gave them some comfort when they were alive, then it was worth it, don’t you think?

  5. khedahl says:

    There is one part of the industry that is highly regulated. Not-for-profit cemetaries are usually required to receive yearly audits. During these audits, one of the items testing in detail are the balances and status of their prepaid plots/funerals. These funds must be held in separate accounts and managed very conservatively. I have yet to audit a not-for-profit cemetary that doesn’t handle themselves in a very trustworthy manner. I can’t say the same about for-profit.

  6. Riff Raff says:

    I have personal experience that pre-paying and planning over 20 years in advance for a burial is worthless.

    My grandpa passed away recently. My grandparents pre-paid for the entire burial over 20 years ago. When the moment finally came, my grandma and the funeral home (not affiliated with the cemetery) were repeatedly assured that “all paperwork had been completed” and that there was “nothing” that needed to be completed aside from showing up on the planned day. Hell, it wasn’t even a full burial since he was cremated beforehand.

    The whole family shows up at the cemetery, and we wait for 20 minutes while our “guide” from the cemetery picks her ass trying to figure out what’s going on. It turns out there was more than one complication…

    1. Not all of the paperwork had been completed, as previously, falsely, and repeatedly promised.
    2. The grave site hadn’t been prepared yet.
    3. The person who handled the paperwork was on vacation, and no trace of the papers could be found. (??!!?!?!?!)

    After a lot of hemming, hawing, and crying from the family, my grandpa’s remains were finally put into the ground. About a week after the burial…

    4. The cemetery tried to claim that my grandma owed them money. Impossible, since everything was paid in full over 20 years ago. A strongly worded phone call got that cleared up, but it was just more proverbial piss on my grandpa’s grave.

    As others have said, don’t bother with prepaying funeral costs. You’ll never know what kind of scumbags or dumb fucks own the property when the time comes.

  7. BradenR says:

    Prepaying cemetery’s another really bad idea. My sister in law wanted to put mom’s ashes next to grandpa. Cemetery said this hadn’t been prepaid and the cost would be $1600! Spouse and I visited grandpa’s grave on memorial day to plant flowers with a little extra.