eziFunerals has welcomed tighter regulations on the multi-million-dollar prepaid funeral segment in Western Australia.

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According to Peter Erceg, Owner eziFunerals, West Australians currently have $170 million invested in products which have gone largely unregulated until now.

With so much money at stake, the state government has moved to shore-up the sector by introducing a code of practice.

The Fair Trading (Prepaid Funerals Code of Practice) Regulations 2020 (the code) is a new mandatory code of practice for Western Australia’s prepaid funeral industry. The code came into effect on 1 March 2021 and only applies to prepaid funeral contracts entered into from that date.

 

Key elements of the code

Informing consumers before they sign a contract

Funeral directors must give consumers clear information, developed by the investment manager, about where any prepaid funeral funds will be invested.

 

Prepaid funeral funds

Within 16 days of receipt of the payment, a funeral director must forward all payments received under a prepaid funeral contract (excluding any fee, charge or GST) to an investment manager.

Investment managers are restricted to:   

  • a company registered under the Life Insurance Act 1995 (Commonwealth) section 21; or
  • a friendly society as defined in the Life Insurance Act 1995 (Commonwealth) section 16C; or
  • a licensed trustee company as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth) section 601RAA ; or
  • the Public Trustee as defined in the Public Trustee Act 1941 section 2;

The funeral investment must be designated in the name of the client. The funds are only released after the funeral arranged for the recipient has been carried out, as per the prepaid funeral contract.

 

Consumer protections

Under the code:

  • the funeral director must itemise the cost of each component provided under a prepaid funeral contract as well as the total cost, including GST;
  • details of any fees or charges that will or may be charged by the funeral director must be set out in the contract;
  • a mandatory cooling-off period of 30 days applies to all prepaid funeral contracts;
  • the prepaid funeral contract must detail what happens to payments in situations including:
    • bankruptcy or insolvency of the funeral director;
    • closure of the business;
    • missed or late payments (e.g. where instalments apply);
    • the recipient moving away (e.g. relocates interstate);
    • the client ending the contract other than under a right in the contract; or
    • where the recipient dies before a payment required under the contract is made;
  • a funeral director must maintain a register of prepaid funeral contracts sold.

 

Transition period

The transition period allows funeral directors sufficient time modify business processes in order to comply with the code’s requirements. This may include the requirement to amend standard prepaid funeral contracts, website information or printed documentation (e.g. brochures); and to train employees on the code.

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About eziFunerals

eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.

Our member Funeral Directors operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. Thet are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.

For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.

 

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Peter is the Founder & Owner of eziFunerals Pty Ltd. Published Author - ‘What Kind Of Funeral?, Vivid Publishing. He has a long family history within the funeral industry. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all eziFunerals members.