Out of sight, out of mind. That is often the way people think when the topic of funeral planning comes up. But answers to a few simple questions can put you at ease at a stressful time. Find out what is typical, what would best fit your situation, and what are the costs. Educate yourself so there are no “surprises” in the end.
Examples of some typical questions to ask when meeting your funeral director are:
What are my options for disposition?
Typically, with every death there is a body that needs to be cared for. There are several options available: ground burial, cremation, entombment, burial at sea, and tissue, organ, bone or whole body donation. Ask what is available to you. Once you know your options, you and your funeral director can help design the most appropriate solution for your needs.
What are the costs?
Each funeral home has what is called a General Price List (GPL). This document must be provided to all families when they meet with a funeral director. The GPL, as it is called, outlines the services available from each funeral home as well as displays the costs for each. The GPL includes pricing for merchandise, specialty packages, transportation, cash advances, etc. This serves as the “funeral home menu” of services. When meeting with a funeral director, or even speaking to a funeral director on the telephone, ask about the general price list. Some funeral homes even display them on their Websites.
What is the Basic Services of Funeral Director and Staff fee?
It is the fee for the basic services required of a funeral director and staff for such things as conducting the arrangement conference, planning the funeral, obtaining necessary permits and placing obituary services. This fee is the only fee that is non-declinable.
Does your firm have specific financial terms for payment?
Ask the funeral home if they have special payment terms. Some funeral homes may offer payment plans, terms requiring full payment at the completion of services and accept credit payments. In your discussion, ask the funeral director if there are deposits required and what, if any, additional interest would be charged if late payments occur. These questions should be asked at the arrangement conference, that way both you and the funeral director are in agreement and in complete understanding of each other.
Are there financial assistance programs available?
Outside of SSI/Medicaid and General Assistance programs, New Jersey does not have any financial assistance programs available to families. You can speak with your funeral director to see if there are other avenues of financial assistance that you can receive help from. For example, if the deceased was a veteran, there may be funding available to you. Certain charities, benevolent societies or places of worship may also be a resource to look into. Your funeral director can guide you.