A Portsmouth area funeral director is being investigated by the State of Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. In a recent conversation with Tim Derickson, Executive Director of the State of Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and John Rettig, Sr., President of the board, the Daily Times, learned the board is following up on what appears to be two allegations made against T.J. Adkins of the Adkins-Brant Funeral Home in Portsmouth and the recently-closed Swick, Bussa, Chamberlin Funeral Home.
“There have been a couple of complaints filed,” Derickson said. “Our process is, when a complaint is filed, to follow through on every complaint including these two. It currently lies in being an open investigation. This is an ongoing investigation so what we want to know and what we will find out is whether the complaints that have been filed legitimate or not.”
Derickson was quick to add: “We don’t pass judgment before the investigation is over and that’s exactly where we are, determining whether the complaints are legitimate or not. I will say that we are concerned”
Derickson was asked about the nature of the complaints.
“The question was whether the death certificates were filed in a timely manner or not. That’s what we know,” Derickson said. “There has been some suggestion dealing with a pre-need file being transferred timely. But at this point, that is all it is. That too will be looked into to determine whether that transfer has been made or not.”
The Daily Times probed the question about the proper procedure for handling the money from a pre-need agreement or pre-arrangement.
“That money is to be put into a Trust or an insurance policy,” Derickson said. “That’s all covered in 4717 of the (Ohio) Revised Code. It basically states in there what a funeral home’s obligation is under the law. In my opinion, Ohio has some of the strictest rules when it comes to funding pre-need arrangements and what they are to do with them.”
Section 4717,32 of the Ohio Revised Code states in part: “Any preneed funeral contract that involves the payment of money or the purchase or assignment of an insurance policy or annuity shall be in writing and shall include all of the following information:
(1) The name, address, and phone number of the seller and the name and address of the purchaser of the contract, and, if the contract beneficiary is someone other than the purchaser of the contract, the name and address of the contract beneficiary, and if the contract involves the payment of money but not the purchase or assignment of an insurance policy or annuity, the social security number of the purchaser of the contract or if the contract beneficiary is someone other than the purchaser, the social security number of the contract beneficiary;………..”
Derickson said the funeral director has the option under the law to choose the funding vehicle he wishes to use, However, he said there are points within the law that he must comply with.
Is there a time frame for a determination concerning the charges?
“It’s hard to determine the outcome, but I will tell you that there is no question that Mr. Adkins’ status will be addressed at our next board meeting,” Derickson said. “Monday, the 19th of December is the date. It will be addressed then, but I don’t know when it will be complete.”
Derickson said Adkins is entitled to representation at that board meeting.
“Unfortunately, as much as I like to see these things handled quickly, I’m learning myself that the wheels of justice move slowly at times, and we have to do things correctly. That’s our job, again, to protect the consumer and make sure that we’re doing things properly,” Rettig, Sr. said.
He said he does not expect the minutes of the board meeting to be available until they are approved by the board the following month.
“We are servants of the public, that is our mission,” Rettig, Sr. said. “To look at consumer complaints, we take it very, very seriously. We have a very open consumer process.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.