WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A daughter grieving the loss of her mom found herself fighting for a refund from a funeral home.
Pam Jordan’s mother, Margaret Chapple, died last April at the age of 91. Jordan planned Chapple’s funeral at the height of the pandemic, making it difficult to say a proper goodbye.
“Nobody got any closure that day because it was just such a big mess,” Jordan said.
Chapple had prepaid for her funeral long before she passed, back in 2001. Due to pandemic restrictions, many of the items she paid for didn’t end up applying, like acknowledgment cards and music.
Jordan thought her mother’s estate should’ve received a refund for the unused money from Soller-Baker Funeral Homes, but her efforts to recoup it on her own and through a lawyer didn’t work.
“That’s what my problem is here, trying to get them to give back the extra that they took that they were not entitled to,” Jordan said.
The CBS4 Problem Solvers team took the case to Andy Clayton, Executive Director of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association. Clayton reviewed Jordan’s paperwork and determined that Soller-Baker did owe her a refund.
“There was a math error,” Clayton said. “I’m confident that the mistake they made was genuine and honest and they’re going to make right by it.”
Clayton pointed to an Indiana law that specifically governs prepaid funeral contracts. The law specifies that while a funeral home can receive interest from a trust, which applied in Chapple’s case, it cannot take extra money that had been designated for non-guaranteed cash advance items that are provided by outside vendors, like flowers, acknowledgment cards and music.
Prepaid funerals have become more popular in the last 30 years and both Jordan and Clayton hoped this case would serve as a reminder to do your research and involve your family in the process.
“It’s not a bad idea, but be careful what you’re getting and make sure your family knows what it is you’ve set out for them,” Jordan said.
“I’m an advocate for the system but I want people to be informed because I’ve been at the other end when people weren’t told by their loved ones that they did this,” Clayton said.
Soller-Baker Funeral Homes did send Jordan a check for almost $900 after CBS4 got involved. The company provided the following statement:
Ms. Chapple’s daughter, Pamela Jordan, requested a number of changes to the preplanned arrangements, which we accommodated. After the services, we calculated the portion of the trust that should be refunded based on the new arrangements made by Ms. Jordan. We made an error when totaling the funeral bill, which was brought to our attention recently by the Indiana Funeral Directors Association. After learning this information, we immediately sent Ms. Jordan and her family a refund for the entire amount that was owed.
At Soller-Baker, we are deeply invested in caring for our Lafayette neighbors when they need us the most. We want everyone who comes to us to feel 100% satisfied with the services they receive. We apologize for this mistake and we are pleased we were able to correct it for the family right away.John Benefiel, President, Soller-Baker Funeral Homes
Jordan said while she was glad to receive some money back, she hoped that telling her story would help other families avoid the same frustration.
“You just have to be really, really careful and understand what it is you’re doing (and) how it’s supposed to be paid out,” Jordan said.
If you are considering a prepaid funeral, you’ll find more information from the Indiana Funeral Directors Association at the link here. You can also read Indiana’s law governing prepaid funeral contracts here.