Choosing a Funeral Home 9-20-19
Finding a funeral home is much like looking for any other business. Start by asking friends, neighbors or family members for advice and/or referrals. Search local business directories and, of course, the Internet for the names of funeral homes nearest you.
If you need further guidance, the NJSFDA has a list of its member funeral homes available online. To search, just type in a funeral home name in the Find a Funeral Home link at the top of this page. You can also search by city, county or ZIP code. You can even search funeral homes that offer the safety of the New Jersey Prepaid Funeral Trust Fund.
Whether you are preplanning a funeral or have an immediate need for assistance, these are a few things to consider that can help you through the initial process of choosing a funeral home.
1) Decide Who Will Be in Charge of the Funeral
This can be one person or multiple people. Immediate family members (next-of-kin), such as the decedent’s spouse or civil union/domestic partner, children, parents, siblings, are usually the individuals who take charge of the funeral. Most importantly, you cannot authorize your own final disposition.
New Jersey law designates the order of consanguinity (next-of-kin) that must be followed to determine who controls the disposition of human remains. No one outside of this lineage can authorize a funeral without written authorization from a judge or an appointment as a funeral agent. See the “Controlling Your Own Funeral” section of this website for more information.
2) Check for Prearrangements
The decedent may have made funeral arrangements in advance with a funeral home. If so, there should be paperwork stating as such.
Look for a “Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected” document. With each prearrangement, the chosen funeral home provides an itemized statement of funeral goods and services selected listing the person’s selections and a contract identifying the source of payment. Also, look for account summary statements and/or IRS Grantor Letters used for annual tax reporting. These can also tell you whether a prearrangement was made and with what funeral home.
If you know a prearrangement was made and do not have the paperwork on hand, copies of the agreement and selections will be on file at the funeral home.
3) Choose a Funeral Home
If prearrangements were not made and you need help picking a funeral home, ask friends, neighbors or family members for a referral. Shop around, even if you are considering moving prearrangements from one funeral home to another.
4) Participate in the Arrangement Conference
The arrangement conference is a time to provide information and ask questions. During the arrangement conference, family members should talk with the funeral director about how they see the next few days unfolding. During the arrangement conference or soon after, you will need to provide some information about the decedent. Consider bringing the following information with you to the funeral home:
- If applicable, a copy of the official document (will, codicil or eventually a form when approved by the New Jersey Cemetery Board) appointing a funeral agent to control the funeral and disposition of the decedent.
- Information required for filing a death certificate, such as the decedent’s full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Also any information on whether the decedent was receiving SSI/Medicaid, public assistance or veteran benefits and any other pertinent information.
- Biographical details for death notice/obituary preparation. Try to have details on where they were born, organizations they were members of and how many children and grandchildren they may have had.
- Any paperwork regarding funeral prearrangements or cemetery plots (if any).
You also should be prepared to discuss payment options, which may involve full payment, partial payment on deposit, or enter into an agreement for payment terms. Many funeral homes accept credit card payments. Be sure to ask.