Wisconsin Funeral Trust short millions - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin Funeral Trust short millions

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Planning a funeral is difficult enough, but now many families are under even more stress.   They paid for funerals ahead of time, but now are learning that money was invested in a hedge fund that under performed in a big way. 

"Funeral funding is very popular," says Mike Hulke, Fuller-Speckien-Hulke Funeral Home.

In Wisconsin, more than 10,000 people put money down to pay for funerals ahead of time.  "You are doing this to give yourself peace of mind knowing that everything is going to be taken care of at the time of need the way that you have set it up," says Hulke.

Recently funeral directors, like Mike Hulke, learned the Wisconsin Funeral Trust, which is used to invest the money, was $21 million short.  "I'm shocked, all of a sudden 21 million to be short, it's unbelievable that it came to that," says Hulke.

The Department of Justice is now investigating.  The state alleges the money paid by consumers was invested in a high-risk hedge fund.  "My understanding, there were two gentlemen that were in charge of the investments and took some very high risk to get better returns...which was attractive to people, of course, a higher return is going to be attractive," says Hulke.

The trust has now replaced the executive director and two investment advisers.  "We're entrusting these companies to take care of things for us. We're not the investors, we're the funeral directors we're trying to find the vehicle that's best for the family," says Hulke.

So what now for families that pre-paid for funerals?

"My recommendation right now is, you call your funeral home and find out, did we invest in this? And then if the answer is "yes" to that question, how do you intend to take care of things if we need to utilize your services?" says Hulke. "Every funeral home that I've seen so far that has made comment on this has said, and rightfully so, is we're going to honor whatever services you had arranged, whether they take a loss or not."

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