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PERPETUAL CARE ROUNDTABLE

Establishing a perpetual care fund at your cemetery is not only essential for ensuring your grounds and those who are interred there will continue to be cared for in perpetuity – in many states, it’s also the law. Todd Mannix, vice president of sales and marketing with Cooperative Funeral Fund, and W. H. (Bill) Williams Jr., president and CEO of Funeral Services Inc., answer some of our questions about perpetual care funds.
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NAVIGATING LIFE AND DEATH

A year ago, my father passed away.  I was out of town at the NFDA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I received the news.  My family was full of sorrow, but we were also relieved.  Our relief came from knowing that he was no longer suffering from his fight with cancer.  He was given a terminal diagnosis in January of that year and passed from cancer's vicious grip peacefully in October at home in his sleep on Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  A further sense of calm was allowed us because we had made all of the prearrangements well before my trip to Charlotte.

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TRUST VS. INSURANCE ROUNDTABLE

Inflation affects everything, including funeral costs. So prepIanning makes financial sense for families and funeral firms. The question for funeral professionals, then, is where to place those preneed funds? Is insurance the best option? Do trusts offer more? Is a combination of both an option? We turned to Tom Hardy, chairman, president and CEO, Unity Financial Life Insurance Co.; Mark Mannix, president and founder of Cooperative Funeral Fund; and W. H. (Bill) Williams Jr., president and CEO, Funeral Services, Inc., for answers.
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UNDERSTANDING INVESTMENT RETURNS IN A TOUGH ECONOMY: WHAT IS YOUR STATEMENT REALLY TELLING YOU?

Making the right decisions about your endowment fund investments is never easy, but if you don’t know how to read the financial statements, it’s impossible.   

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ENDOWMENT CARE: MAKING A LASTING IMPRESSION

Cemeteries are complex businesses that require commitment for eternity. They are an important part of the community as a place for the living to visit the final resting place of their loved ones. They are landmarks memorializing important events or people in history. They are places of natural refuge surrounded by big cities and urban sprawl, and they are distinctive centerpieces in many small towns, giving them character and uniqueness. 

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MONEY FOR NOTHING

Anyone involved in operating a cemetery knows the importance of maintaining a healthy perpetual care fund.  But in an environment where interest rates are historically low, it’s more challenging than ever to get what you need out of them. With some long-term strategy and planning, your cemetery’s perpetual care fund can be in better shape.

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FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU

Funeral service has seen far too many negative headlines about preneed. Most of us either have been or know of a colleague who has been directly affected fiscally. While the details surrounding these improprieties are different at their core, the resulting actions taken by state governments to protect consumers are similar.  These measures highlight an effort to limit the ability of financial impropriety, but greed has found ways to abuse the system nonetheless, proving that there is no legislation that can provide a silver bullet to make this problem go away. However, there are steps funeral directors can take to prevent the next scandal from befalling their firm.
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ENDOWMENT CARE: SUSTAINING FUTURE PROFITABILITY

Managing your endowment or perpetual care funds in today’s economy can be a challenge to say the least! As a cemetery professional, you have the objective to try and maximize the cash flow generated from your endowment care funds to provide the cash for the ongoing maintenance of your interment properties. The question is, how do you maximize the investment income available for your cemetery maintenance? 

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ILLINOIS STATE TRUST:  BREAKING FROM THE TRIED AND UNTRUE

It is not my intent to impugn Illinois funeral directors who used the Illinois Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) Trust or current officers of the IFDA. I don’t claim to know more than what has been published. I would like to review the situation, raise some questions and suggest some measures that would prevent any recurrence. 

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PRENEED ETHICS:  GETTING THE FACTS

The mishandling of preneed funds has occurred with provider companies, funeral homes, individual funeral directors and even with a state trade association. In an effort to combat the distrust spawned from unethical dealings regarding preneed funds, it would be wise to educate your clients, and to carefully select your vendors as a means to avoid fiscal calamity. 

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PRENEED ETHICS: DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CLIENT AND SUCCEED

As many of you are aware, there have been many scandals concerning prepaid funeral funds that have plagued the funeral industry. This has occurred with provider companies such as Mechem Financial in 1988 and National Prearranged Services (NPS) in 2008. It has also happened with funeral corporations and with individual funeral homes or funeral directors. There is even a trade association that is involved with multiple law suits for mismanagement of preneed funds. Numerous claims have been made against funeral directors for misplacing and outright absconding with client funds. In my opinion, 99.5 % of funeral professionals are honest individuals with only .5 % giving the industry a bad name. 

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INSURANCE OR TRUST OPTIONS: WHICH IS BEST FOR MY CLIENT AND ME?

This article is in response to publications and corresponding retorts within relevant industry publications. These articles either extol or denigrate the preneed funding vehicles of insurance and trust. Not surprisingly, they left many of you confused as to fact versus fiction. Because our company offers both insurance and trust products for preneed funding, we are uniquely capable of advising you in evaluating which is the best product to meet the needs of your funeral home and your clients. 

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