Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pre-Paid Funeral Services, Not Such a Great Idea

The South Bend Tribune has a disturbing report for folks who think they've taken care of the issues realting to the funeral part of their departure from this mortal coil.  Pre-paid funeral services aren't such a great idea at least when you have pre-paid the Legacy Funeral Home in Berrien Springs, Michigan.  This is from reporter, Tom Moor's report:

Police say dozens of people looking to gain some peace of mind by pre-paying for their funeral expenses have, instead, become the victims of a suspected embezzlement.


Matthew Purchase (pic), owner of Legacy Family Funeral Services at 8747 U.S. 31 in Berrien Springs, was charged with 15 felony counts relating to $207,000 of money paid by customers that wasn't placed into escrow as required by state law.

Det. Sgt. Fabian Suarez of the Michigan State Police Niles Post said Wednesday that at least 52 victims of the suspected embezzlement have already come forward and more soon could.

Police began investigating Legacy Family Funeral Services in June when a customer was unable to obtain refunds of pre-paid funeral arrangement money. The funds are required to be deposited into an escrow account within 30 days for use by the funeral home or to be returned to the customer at their request, Suarez said.

The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth initiated an audit of the pre-paid funeral arrangement and pre-paid funeral insurance.  But Suarez said Purchase was accepting money and putting it into a business account.  Suarez added that the DLEG took away the funeral home's license on Wednesday, which essentially means the company is out of business.

Purchase, 40, of Berrien Springs, was arraigned Wednesday on 15 counts, which includes one count of criminal enterprise and 14 counts of embezzlement, said Mike Sepic, Berrien County assistant prosecutor. His bond was set at $500,000.  Suarez said the amount of money embezzled also could increase significantly as the investigation furthers.
'It's taking advantage of people at a worse time when they think their funerals are paid for,' Suarez said. 'I've had to meet with people who don't have money there — it's gone.'  A phone call to Legacy Family Funeral Services was taken by an answering service, in which a message was left for the owner.
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When you think about all the scumbag attorneys we've talked about on Bad Lawyer who could not resist the temptation to take client funds deposited in lawyer trust accounts, I can't think of a more ripe area for abuse with even less scrutiny than these pre-paid funeral service plans.  Maybe somebody out there who knows more about this industry can disabuse me.  But really, who's looking over the shoulders of these operators?  How are these funds accounted for?  The only other person in the know about what was paid--usually dies before the services are rendered.  So how are "bait and switch" types of scams prevented?

17 comments:

  1. THIS IS A LIE. YOU ARE A LIAR. FUNERAL OPERATORS ARE MUCH MORE HONEST THAN LAWYERS ESPECIALLY PIECES OF SHIT LIKE YOU.

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  2. When they buried my old man, I was surpised at he pressed-board coffin and really cheap quality of everything and I thought he had prepaid for a really nice service according to him now you have me wondering.

    Karl B.

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  4. This is very disturbing, someone needs take steps to protect our older Americans against rip offs by these death perople, there was a muckraking book on this industry called something like American Way o fDying or something like that you might want to check it out.
    Tabitha

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  5. This is truly a disturbing story.In reality, many people (I know them) pre-plan years in advance of their old age. Not only the dead would know what was paid. You get folders and paperwork that are left for your survivors so they are aware of your prior directives. Sadly for these people, and others this has happened to, they did not follow through with why their annual paperwork from the institution their money was required to be deposited too never arrived. When the funeral home owner came up with excuses- contacting the agency would have noted there were no funds. What a horrible lesson to learn! I hope there is a way funds can be recouped for these folks.

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  13. Hey... i agree with Anonymous. And i believe that prepaid funeral sometimes may cause or create problems and normally it regrading all of money and fund......


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