Some Big Companies in Funeral Industry Eye Burial and Cemetery Trust Business

By Fraser, Katharine | American Banker, February 24, 1998 | Go to article overview

Some Big Companies in Funeral Industry Eye Burial and Cemetery Trust Business


Fraser, Katharine, American Banker


Coffin makers and funeral planners are increasingly administering funeral and cemetery trusts-an activity once left to banks.

Hillenbrand Industries Inc., a funeral-planning firm in Batesville, Ind., is awaiting approval from the Office of Thrift Supervision for a charter with federal trust powers. The $3.4 billion-asset company owns the world's largest coffin manufacturer, Batesville Casket Co.

One of its competitors in the casket business, United Family Life, Atlanta, is looking at adopting a similar business plan, according to sources close to the company. An application would likely be filed with the OTS under United Family's parent company, Fortis, a Dutch financial services giant.

People set up funeral trusts to ensure that their funeral service and cemetery plot are paid for without burdening family members. Cemetery trusts use funds invested to pay for upkeep of plots.

Hillenbrand applied to the OTS in November to charter Forethought Federal Savings Bank. The firm already manages trust funds set aside for funeral costs through Forethought National TrustBank, a limited-purpose state-chartered institution. With thrift powers, Forethought could administer funeral trusts on a national basis. …

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