ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A recent legal opinion letter from NCUA outlined why the operation and ownership of a funeral home for credit union members is not a permissible activity of the credit union service organization. Members Cooperative Credit Union President Del D. Provost wrote NCUA to find out if it is permissible for its CUSO to participate with a group of cooperatives in running a cooperative funeral home. Though the funeral home has been successful, ownership has dwindled to one cooperative, which has approached the credit union about taking over. Provost advocated that the funeral home should fall under the approved estate planning category, which falls under financial counseling. However, according to NCUA Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin in legal opinion letter (04-0353), "the activity must first relate to `financial counseling.' We do not believe ownership and operation of a funeral home meets the threshold requirement of a financial counseling service." "In addition," Albin wrote, "in order to qualify as a CUSO activity, the activity must relate to the routine daily operations of a credit union. 12 C.F.R. 712.5. Although, as you note, the operation of a funeral home may affect the well being of credit union members, we do not believe it relates to the routine daily operations of a credit union."

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