W.Va. AG stops funeral home from selling preneed contracts

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 1, 2011, 3:28pm


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has enjoined an Elkview-area funeral home and its owner from selling or providing preneed funeral contracts.

McGraw, in a news release Wednesday, cited Myers Funeral Home and owner Frederick Arthur Myers Jr.'s continued refusal to comply with reporting and licensing requirements of the state's Preneed Act.

Preneed refers to the prearranging and prefunding of a person's own funeral. The Attorney General's Office oversees the preneed funeral business.

According to McGraw's office, Myers and his funeral home had refused for several years to properly administer preneed fund trusts and submit required documentation.

Additionally, an audit conducted by the Preneed Division of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division disclosed that the funeral home had agreed to preneed contracts that hadn't been disclosed to the division, as required by state law. Preneed funds also hadn't been deposited into a trust account or life insurance policy within 30 days of receipt, the Attorney General's Office said.

"It is unacceptable for any funeral home to refuse to comply with the state requirements that make sure our citizens get the funeral for which they have contracted and paid," McGraw said in a statement.

Pursuant to an assurance of Discontinuance obtained by the attorney general, the funeral home is forced to relinquish all of its preneed funeral contracts and will no longer be allowed to engage in the preneed business.

The current legal action stems from 2004 and 2010 lawsuits filed against Myers Funeral Home on similar allegations. That litigation resulted in an order by Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky in which Myers was told to comply with the Preneed Act.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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