Editor’s Note: This article about pre-arrangements for funerals was prepared by Harry Platt, director at Platt Memorial Chapels, Cherry Hill, NJ.
By Harry Platt
Many families have decided to assist their families by pre-arranging and pre-paying funeral services. We believe that this kind of planning is as prudent as when they bought life insurance, wrote a will, planned their retirement and purchased cemetery property – all normal, necessary steps in family planning.
The idea behind funeral planning is simple. One day your family and anyone whose responsibility it is to assist them will need to provide a great deal of vital information and make decisions about funeral services . Those who plan ahead are more comfortable knowing not only that their personal wishes will be fulfilled, but also that complicated decision-making can be avoided at a difficult time.
Both you and your family can benefit from pre-arranged and pre-paid funeral arrangements. By discussing plans in a calm and rational atmosphere, you can take the time necessary to make the best decisions regarding the type of funeral wanted as well as other decisions that are difficult to make at the time of need. By pre-paying these services a majority of these costs can be guaranteed for the future.
Of course this article cannot answer all questions or provide detail to cover all particular situations. To find out more about funeral pre-arrangements please call us at 856-428-9442 or 800-262-9442 and a Funeral Director can answer all of your questions – without any obligation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I pre-arrange a funeral service?
Make an appointment with us at your convenience. One of our directors will meet with you and discuss your needs, fully explain our services and all options available. We will answer all of your questions and prepare a statement of cost. If you prefer, we can come to your home, though we do suggest a visit with us to select a casket.
Should I come alone?
It is important that you feel as comfortable as possible when making pre-arrangements. If a friend or family member helps, then they should come with you for help and support.
How is the pre-paid money held?
The pre-payments made to our firm will be placed into an interest-bearing trust account with Choices – New Jersey Pre-Paid Funeral Trust Fund. It is understood that the interest will continue to accrue in the accounts to offset any future increase in our costs. If there is a shortfall of funds, your family will not be liable for the difference of the actual cost at the time of need. This is contingent on the contracts being paid in full and the services being performed unchanged at the time of need. Pre-paid funerals can be paid off in one lump sum or over a structured period of time without interest.
Are all pre-paid items guaranteed?
No, there are some “Cash Disbursements” items such as cemetery charges, death certificates, state permits, death notices, Rabbi, etc. that cannot be guaranteed because the increase in their costs is out of our control. Interest from non-guaranteed items is applied directly to the increases in those costs.
What happens if I move or you are not in business when the services are needed?
We have been serving the community for nearly 40 years and plan to be serving this community for many more years. But, if not, the money in the pre-paid trust is maintained by Choices – The New Jersey Pre-Paid Funeral Trust Fund. By law, the funds are never placed in our account until the services are performed. The State of New Jersey requires that 100% of the pre-paid funds be placed into the trust fund. Should you move or for some reason cancel the arrangements, 100% of these funds, plus interest can be returned to you or your family.
Can the arrangements be changed in the future?
Yes. Over time, people move, their families grow and situations change. That means that pre-arrangements made years before may need to be modified. We will assist you in making these changes at the time of need so that the services take place smoothly.
What are some of the questions asked and decisions made making pre-arrangements?
When pre-arrangements are made, we get all of your biographical information needed for the future such as: address, date & place of birth, social security number, parents’ names including mother’s maiden name, level of education obtained, occupation, veteran status, and a listing of family members. You should bring all cemetery paperwork and military discharge papers that you have available.
We will ask if you wanted to plan for a chapel service or graveside service, which newspapers you want to have notices placed in, if your family will need limousines, the number of death certificates needed, who will officiate at the services, and selection of a casket. We can take care of as much as you feel comfortable doing when discussing these pre-arrangements.
Can you provide graves?
No. New Jersey law keeps New Jersey funeral homes and New Jersey cemeteries separate and requires that families purchase their graves from a cemetery directly. We will be happy to provide a list of local and Philadelphia cemeteries.
Can monuments be pre-arranged?
Yes, Platt Memorial Chapels, Inc. now has an in-house monument company, Marshall Monuments. We will guarantee the cost of any monument that is pre-arranged with our firm and handled by Marshall Monuments. Marshall Monuments can handle both local and long distance monuments.