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THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2007
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Funeral home in Priceville for sale
Holland shuts doors
after slow business

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

PRICEVILLE — Todd Holland said he and his parents, Jerry and Louise Holland, had high expectations when they took control of the former Priceville Funeral Home.

They bought the business Oct. 1, 2004, from Portfolio Financial Servicing Co. of Portland, Ore., as Trinity LLC and opened Holland Memorial Chapel.

"Our intention was to establish a rapport with our community and to continue to see progression," he said. "We felt there was an advantage to being family owned and operated versus a corporation."

But Holland said that due to lack of business and support from the community, the family closed the chapel June 8 and put it up for sale.

Realty North is marketing the building as commercial property.

Agent E.J. Fortenberry said the price is $625,000.

Holland said during more than two years, the chapel had only 36 funerals, compared to an average of 42 per year, dating back to 1995, before purchase.

He blamed part of the loss of business on prior owners. He said Portfolio Financial Servicing Co. took the business back from the last owner before his purchase. He said the business went through four owners, including Southern Family Funeral Care, since opening in 1995. He said all were bankrupt, including Partners Management Inc. and Southern Acquisitions.

Holland said in a May 30 letter to 76 people who had pre-arrangement contracts, that his company notified the Alabama Department of Insurance Commission of its decision to sell the property as commercial.

He explained that before May 2002, the state had no law governing money invested or trusted in pre-need arrangements.

"If your contract was written prior to that date under the name The Eternity Plan, which was owned by Southern Acquisitions, or written under Priceville Funeral Home, there were no laws governing the use of this money. As a result, no money was in trust at the time Holland Memorial Chapel opened."

He said when his family bought the funeral home, they agreed to honor the pre-law contracts at their discretion. For example, he said, some people might have come to the funeral home a decade ago under the assumption that they were securing a pre-need contract with a life insurance policy.

"If they didn't pay anything, the director is holding the policy to pay for the funeral at the time, which should have been written as a funeral request versus a pre-arrangement contract," he said. "One of the benefits of a pre-arrangement is that it freezes the cost of the funeral at the time of purchase."

Holland said the company decided to fund the contracts "out of our pocket. But due to a drastic decrease in business, we were no longer able to continue to do this."

He added, "If your contract was not paid in full prior to Oct. 1, 2004, any payments made to Holland Memorial Chapel for pre-law pre-arrangement contracts will be refunded by Dec. 31."

Funeral home questions

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding Holland Memorial Chapel should write Commissioner Walter Bell, Alabama Department of Insurance, P.O. Box 303351, Montgomery, AL 36130-3351; phone (334) 269-3550; e-mail insdept@insurance.alabama.gov.; fax 334-241-4192 or go online to www.aldoi.org.

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