Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Banking Board in Charge of Pre-Paid Cemetery Trust Funds

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Banking Board in Charge of Pre-Paid Cemetery Trust Funds

Article excerpt

It's a ghoulish job, but somebody's got to do it.

The Oklahoma Banking Board has been put in charge of regulating pre-paid cemetery merchandise trust funds.

Marvin York, a lobbyist for the Oklahoma Cemeteries Association, said the fit was a natural, since the banking board already oversees other kinds of trusts.

But Mary Beth Guard, legal counsel for the board, said they never had a ghost of a hint that the legislation was creeping up on them.

"I just found out about the existence of this bill Monday (June 19)," Guard said.

The Oklahoma Banking Department has jurisdiction over perpetual care cemetery trust funds, since trusts are involved, Guard said. But the difference between the two pieces of legislation, she said, is that the Oklahoma Banking Commissioner and the department are in charge of the perpetual care trusts, while the banking board is in charge of the pre-paid cemetery merchandise trust fund, Guard said.

The legislation was probably necessary because some fly-by-night (Guard's words) operators were draining people's financial lifeblood and vanishing before dawn, or at least before their services could be collected.

The legislation deals specifically with pre-paid cemetery merchandise, including markers, memorials, memorial bases, crypts, niches and mausoleums, Guard said. It does not relate to the plot or other real estate at the burial site, she said.

The banking board must create rules by November 1, the law's effective date, to review applications by people who want to offer pre-paid cemetery merchandise trust fund services, she said.

The application process will probably be similar to the board's approach to money order licenses, Guard said. In that instance, the board scrutinizes the character of the people applying for approval, reviewing their financial background and net worth, she said.

The pre-paid cemetery merchandise trust fund operator would have to deposit money received from customers in an insured financial institution that has trust powers, Guard said. …

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