Forest Hill policies will be honored - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Forest Hill policies will be honored

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Action News Five was the only news station to tell you about a court-approved payback for the victims of the Forest Hill Funeral Home embezzlement case.

Now, current policy holders want to know if they are covered.  After Action News 5's story Tuesday night, victims emailed and called the funeral home to find out if future policies will be honored.

The answer is a resounding "yes" for the more than 14,000 people affected by the case.

The scandal erupted in summer 2006.  When people with pre-paid funeral policies would go to bury their loved ones at Forest Hill Funeral Homes, they said owner Clayton Smart told them to pay more money, or the burial wouldn't happen.

"We had a bombed out war zone, is the only way to describe it," current Forest Hill Funeral Home General Manager Roger Watson said Wednesday.

But things have changed.

"It's been nothing short of a miracle," Watson said.

Smart's been in jail nearly two years, and the attorney tracking down $22 million in missing money is paying back the people who were overcharged.

And, Forest Hill is under new management.  Watson says all pre-paid policies are being and will be honored - end of story.
 
"We're honoring every policy that's in the file room at a Forest Hill location. Period," he said. "No exceptions."

The state of Tennessee took over Forest Hill when they put Smart in prison.  Attorney Max Shelton says the state will sell Forest Hill, but customers should not worry.

"Any purchaser will be required to honor the agreements," Shelton said. "The court would never approve a sale without that."

The state does not yet have a buyer or sale date.  Watson, meanwhile, is glad the worst is over.

"I had the privilege of talking to you back in '06 when that all happened, and it's a joy - that's the only word I can come up with now - to report to you that the storm is over," he said.

So there's no confusion, the people being paid back are the people who overpaid during the period of time between July 1, 2006 and April 24, 2007.  You can find the customer forms you need to fill out to get your refund here and here.

Officials say everyone else can feel confident their pre-paid burial policy will be honored.

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