Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Families Search for Missing Funeral Funds ; Funeral Director Died in 2009, Leaving No Record of Payments

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Families Search for Missing Funeral Funds ; Funeral Director Died in 2009, Leaving No Record of Payments

Article excerpt

BOSWELL, Ind. - A group of Indiana funeral directors is urging the state to add more inspectors to monitor the industry amid questions about what a Boswell funeral home operator did with money clients had paid him for preplanned services before his death. James Shoemaker, operator of Yuill-Shoemaker Funeral Home in the town about 30 miles northwest of Lafayette, died in July 2009 at age 68. After his death, several families discovered there was no record of their loved ones' payments for preplanned funerals, the Journal & Courier reported.

Investigators trying to track the money also found Shoemaker, a former Benton County coroner, had been embalming bodies for 11 years without a state license.

NEED FOR MORE INSPECTORS

The fact the state never realized Shoemaker lacked an active license points to a need for more resources within the Indiana Public Licensing Agency and the State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Service, said Curtis Rostad, executive director of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association.

"We have made it very clear.. that we want more inspectors out there," Rostad said. "We certainly don't want to see a consumer pay for a funeral, and then pay for it twice due to malfeasance."

Tracy Hicks, director of the State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners and State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services, said the agency has four inspectors who cover the state and monitor 11,000 facility licensees. Those inspectors also monitor barbers and cosmetologists, licensed plumbers and auctioneers.

Hicks said the agency's compliance staff usually conducts a walk- through whenever a funeral home closes to look for the prepaid agreements known as pre-need contracts.

She said that didn't occur in the case of Yuill-Shoemaker, which closed at least eight months before the agency was notified. …

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