Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and if so, whether the casket will be open or closed, and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.
Among the choices you’ll need to make are whether you want one of these basic types of funerals, or something in between.
This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a “traditional” funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment or cremation of the remains.
Consumers often select a funeral home or cemetery because it’s close to home, has served the family in the past, or has been recommended by someone they trust. But people who limit their search to just one funeral home may risk paying more than necessary for the funeral or narrowing their choice of goods and services.
Comparison shopping need not be difficult, especially if it’s done before the need for a funeral arises. If you visit a funeral home in person, the funeral provider is required by law to give you a general price list itemizing the cost of the items and services the home offers. If the general price list does not include specific prices of caskets or outer burial containers, the law requires the funeral director to show you the price lists for those items before showing you the items.
Sometimes it’s more convenient and less stressful to “price shop” funeral homes by telephone. The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to provide price information over the phone to any caller who asks for it. In addition, many funeral homes are happy to mail you their price lists, although that is not required by law.
Nobody particular wants to spend their day visiting a funeral home. Especially if no one has passed on. Yet, every day across America thousands of people make plans to sit down with a professional and map out instructions when the time comes.
Why? Because they are thinking ahead and arranging their last moments on earth;
and in doing so, they are helping their families through one of the most difficult situations they will ever encounter.
At one time pre-planning a funeral was considered somewhat taboo. That attitude has changed significantly over the years. Now many financial experts recommend pre-planning a funeral as a very practical and sound way for an individual to alleviate a major burden his or her survivors will encounter.
Trust accounts are basically a pre-payment for funeral services deposited in a bank or with a trust company. Because the bank is federally insured by the US government, the funds are 100% totally secure.
If the funds are put into a larger, pooled trust, such as the state-controlled New Jersey Trust Fund, they may earn a more competitive high rate of interest.
You will need to ask your local licensed funeral director about the programs available in your area.
Pre-need insurance is a form of “life insurance”. At one time, it was referred to as “death insurance” but the term was changed to “pre-need insurance” or “funeral insurance” to make it more acceptable.
Generally, a person either pays for a whole-life policy to cover the funeral costs in one lump sum, or they can pay over a 3, 5 or 10 year-period depending upon the insurance company and a person’s age, health history and other factors.
One benefit of pre-need insurance policies is that some times they may actually pay higher dividends than trust accounts. It’s possible your survivors could receive some money back from the policy after the cost of the funeral is covered.