Funeral Directors To Help Victims Of Receivership
The Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) will help those who lost pre-paid funeral funds as a result of the financial collapse of a Bay of Plenty funeral practice.
President Russell Gillions has also assured people who have invested in the association’s Family Bereavement Plan that their funds are safely invested with a third party, Sovereign Life (NZ) Limited.
This comes in the wake of the receivership of Que Sera Limited, which traded as Allan Curran Funeral Services and Bay of Plenty Funeral Services. Funds for up to 23 pre-paid funerals had not been invested in an approved plan.
The association also has concerns about a Tauranga firm, Mount Funeral Home Limited, which has the same two directors, Allan Curran and Helen Walker, as Que Sera Limited.
“I am extremely sorry for the families concerned. They have been let down badly,” said Mr Gillions.
“Our association takes great pride in its professionalism and integrity. We are now working with the receiver and the solicitor representing unsecured creditors to see how we can best help those affected.
“No-one will be left without a funeral.”
He said that the timing of the collapse of Que Sera had been very inopportune. In September last year, FDANZ made it compulsory for all member firms to sign a statutory declaration stating that all legal requirements had been met when investing funds on behalf of third parties.
This was formalised in March with the introduction of the association’s Griefcare quality assurance programme. Funeral practices had been given until 30 June this year to comply or have their membership cancelled.
“All Griefcare funeral directors and most other FDANZ members have now signed this statutory declaration. The two firms which are now in receivership would not sign,” said Mr Gillions.
“When they went into receivership, it became apparent that Que Sera had provided incorrect information to the association and was invited to resign, which they did. At no stage was the company Griefcare-accredited.”
Of the approximately 145 funeral practices in New Zealand, 123 (or 85 per cent) are FDANZ members. Of these, nearly 100 are Griefcare accredited.
Most of the others are provisional members, which are overseen by FDANZ mentors. Provisional members are unable to obtain Griefcare accreditation.
All member firms, regardless of their membership status, are entitled to sell the Family Bereavement Plan so long as they sign the statutory declaration and a deed of adherence.
Mr Gillions said there are personal and financial benefits for people who invest in legitimate pre-paid funeral funds.
“They give great peace of mind. Also they are not assessed as assets when people go into long-term residential care,” he said.
“But pre-paid funerals are investments like any other and they must comply with standards set down by the Securities Commission.
“Our association endorses only one pre-paid funeral plan – the FDANZ Family Bereavement Plan managed by Sovereign Life. Funds invested in this plan are as safe as it is possible for any investment to be.”
Mr Gillions said investors in pre-paid funerals should always ask to see the investment statement, a legal document, before writing out their cheque.