3 Things a Funeral Director Must Provide When You Are Preplanning a Funeral

3 Things a Funeral Director Must Provide When You Are Preplanning a Funeral

You’ve decided to create an irrevocable prepaid funeral trust for a family member in order to comply with Medicaid eligibility requirements. But what you don’t know is how much a funeral will cost and what will be allowable under Medicaid’s strict requirements concerning assets.

Don’t worry. This is where a funeral director can help you.

Under federal regulations, funeral directors must supply basic information to anyone, regardless of whether the person is preplanning a funeral or dealing with someone who has just died. Here are three of the things you must get when preplanning a funeral:

General Price List (the menu). The first piece of information a funeral director must share is a General Price List (GPL), which will include costs for a variety of goods and services provided by the funeral home. Among those items are the services of the funeral director and staff, caskets or urns, transportation, embalming and other staff-related facilities, such as the use of the funeral home's visitation room or chapel. In addition, the GPL contains costs for direct cremation and immediate burial, in which there are minimal services arranged by the funeral director.

As you are preplanning the funeral, it is critical to review this document with the funeral director in order to understand the items you are being charged for and what the service being provided will include.

The price list is also important because it can disclose some of the items you will not be able to pay for with an irrevocable trust intended to comply with Medicaid rules. For example, the GPL includes how much it will cost to transport flowers to the cemetery or to purchase a register book and keepsake jewelry. These items are currently excluded under Medicaid rules in New Jersey, and your funeral director will not be able to put them in the preplanning agreement.

Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected (the estimate). The Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected (SFGSS) is essentially an itemized list of the goods and services you have selected from the GPL to be part of the funeral you are planning.

The SFGSS also includes a section for cash disbursements. These are, in some cases, pass-through costs charged by a church, clergy and musicians and gratuities for those providing services. Some employees working for the board of social services in the county in which the intended funeral recipient lives might question or deny some cash disbursements, while others may not.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that you discuss your options with your funeral director in order to remain in compliance with Medicaid guidelines.

Casket Price List and Outer Burial Container Price List. These documents contain the cost of a variety of different caskets and outer burial containers that the funeral home can provide. They may be incorporated into the GPL or be presented as standalone price lists.

Your funeral director will also be able to discuss with you any other Medicaid restrictions on burial, entombment or cremation costs when you prepare for the funeral. While the preplanned funeral may not contain money for some of the items mentioned above—prayer cards, flower transportation, etc.—surviving family members not on Medicaid may be able to pay for these items at the time of death.

Preplanning with an irrevocable trust may seem complicated. You, your caseworker and funeral director can work through all the necessary details, absent an attorney or specialized service. Doing so is exceedingly important for both the intended funeral recipient and those who will survive.