Jefferson City funeral home closed over mishandled contracts

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 11:47 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Regulators revoked the licenses of a Missouri funeral home and ordered it closed over allegations that the company mishandled prearranged funeral contracts.

State regulators also are seeking a court order to bar the Buescher Memorial Home from spending any company funds so that there is money to cover existing funeral contracts, The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported Wednesday. A court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The funeral home is accused of improperly handling numerous contracts for prearranged funerals. For those services, funeral homes generally do one of three things: They open a joint account with the customer at a local bank, take out a life insurance policy on the customer, or the seller places the money in a trust fund.

Accusations of mishandled contracts include claims that the funeral home charged for services already covered in the contract, didn't deposit money from the contracts into trust funds or joint accounts, failed to pay refunds for canceled polices and didn't itemize customer purchases.

Clifford Cornell, an attorney representing the funeral home, said he was still reviewing complaints against the 70-year-old business and other documents connected to the case.

"We expect there will be a different take on things that are alleged to have occurred," Cornell said.

Earlier this year, the legislature approved a law establishing greater oversight of prearranged funeral services after the financial collapse of a company that had promised to deliver more than $650 million worth of funeral services.

That law requires random state audits of prepaid funeral sellers and increases the amount of money that must be kept in trust to pay for funerals. It also permits the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to seek a court order if the board determines the seller has failed to deposit money into a trust, has wrongly pulled money out of a trust or has depleted the trust.



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