The Mississippi Supreme Court was to hear arguments this week in a lawsuit filed over the portability of pre-need funeral policies. At issue is whether under Mississippi law such a policy, contracted with one funeral home, is transferable to another.
Pre-need contracts allow the living to pay in advance for their own final arrangements. Mississippi started regulating pre-need contracts in 2002, becoming one of the last states to do so.
According to the court record. Aubrey Parham used the Waller Funeral Home in Oxford for the burial of his wife. Parham later encountered difficulties with the settling of the dirt around his wife’s grave.
When Waller Funeral Home did not resolve this matter to Parham’s satisfaction, and Parham had his wife’s body disinterred and reburied by Coleman Funeral Home.
Parham had previously entered into a “Pre-Need Funeral Service Contract” with Waller Funeral Home.
The plaintiffs allege that Waller’s agent made no mention of the transferability or “portability” of the contract, and portability is not addressed in the contract itself.
After the incident with his wife’s grave, Parham decided to transfer his own funeral arrangements to Coleman, also in Oxford. Waller’s agent allegedly informed Parham that the pre-need contract was not transferable.
Parham died in 2005 and his estate was substituted as a plaintiff.
A Lafayette County judge ruled against Parham’s estate in 2011.
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. is not participating in the case. Waller’s uncle founded the Waller Funeral Home in 1977.
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