Not All Recent Legislation Bag

In light of the Oregon and Colorado legislation initiatives, I believe that the most recent Indiana legislation, HB1287, deserves some notice. State Rep. Dave Cheatham (D-North Vernon), co-author, has pushed this bill forward as a follow-up to 2008 legislation he pushed through the IN General Assembly in direct response to the Grandview Memorial Gardens LLC debacle and other high profile funeral and pre-need funeral contract fraud stories. Indiana has unfortunately been plagued with a number of headline worthy death industry frauds and scandals in the last several years, but fortunately, their state reps have chosen to act on it. The most recent legislation provides further clarification and refinement of the funeral trust laws passed in 2008, and also provides the following two provisions: 1) Changes the statute of limitations on pre-need funeral contract fraud claims to 5-years from the date of withdrawal from 5-years from the date of first investment. This is critical because I would venture to say that the average consumer is not aware of the fraud until he tries to make a claim on the funds paid, which may very well be after 5-years; and 2) Allows any property used to commit the crime, up to a Class C Felony for fraud of a perpetual care fund, to be seized to recover damages. For example, if the funeral director who committed the fraud drove his car to work where the fraud took place, then that car would be considered property used to commit the crime. On March 26, 2009 the State Senate approved the bill and it returns to the State House to consider any changes or amendments made by the Senate, then it is onto Gov. Mitch Daniels for final actions. In light of the other state’s so-called consumer protection bills, it is nice to see one that actually sets out to accomplish the premise upon which it was written.

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