Prepaid funeral firm halts sales after Missouri probes practices
A St. Louis-based provider of prepaid burial and funeral services has agreed to halt sales of its products under a deal worked out with the Missouri Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.
The company, National Prearranged Services Inc., agreed to suspend sales indefinitely after a preliminary investigation by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration and questions raised by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon's office about the handling of NPS's deposit and trust accounts.
Emily Kampeter, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Regulation, said the department sought the agreement so it could further investigate the situation and to protect consumers who had paid for funeral services.
National Prearranged Services' website says the firm is based in St. Louis, but it doesn't give an address. The local phone number listed apparently is for a fax machine.
NPS is affiliated with Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Co. of Austin, Texas. Lincoln's main business is selling small life insurance policies used to back up the burial contracts.
In a letter to the Division of Professional Registration dated Tuesday, the attorney general says that deposits for burial contracts sold in December and January apparently weren't made. The letter says it's unclear whether NPS failed to make the deposits or if the trustee, St. Louis-based Bremen Bank & Trust Co., failed to manage them properly. The letter recommends that the division undertake an audit of NPS.
Bank officials couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to a "probable cause" finding by the attorney general's office, the minimum required deposits for the two months would be more than $1 million. The finding is based in part on materials provided by an examiner with the finance and professional regulation department.