Know Your Rights

The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), makes it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, and makes it possible for you to select the funeral arrangements you want at the home you use.

  • Buy only the funeral arrangements you want. You have the right to buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service). You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
  • Get price information on the telephone. Funeral directors must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it. You don’t have to give them your name, address, or telephone number first. Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.
  • Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. It lists all the items and services the home offers, and the cost of each one.
  • See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets. Sometimes, detailed casket price information is included on the funeral home’s GPL. More often, though, it’s provided on a separate casket price list. Get the price information before you see the caskets, so that you can ask about lower-priced products that may not be on display.
  • See a written outer burial container price list. Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells containers, but doesn’t list their prices on the GPL, you have the right to look at a separate container price list before you see the containers. If you don’t see the lower-priced containers listed, ask about them.
  • Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, and before you pay. It should show exactly what you are buying and the cost of each item. The funeral home must give you a statement listing every good and service you have selected, the price of each, and the total cost immediately after you make the arrangements.
  • Get an explanation in the written statement from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement that requires you to buy any funeral goods or services.
  • Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation. No state or local law requires the use of a casket for cremation. A funeral home that offers cremations must tell you that alternative containers are available, and must make them available. They might be made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or cardboard.
  • Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.
  • Make funeral arrangements without embalming. No state law requires routine embalming for every death. Some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time; some states don’t require it at all. In most cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative. In addition, you may choose services like direct cremation and immediate burial, which don’t require any form of preservation. Many funeral homes have a policy requiring embalming if the body is to be publicly viewed, but this is not required by law in most states. Ask if the funeral home offers private family viewing without embalming. If some form of preservation is a practical necessity, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is available.

At Northern Indiana Funeral Care our prices are available on our website. The best way to avoid the confusion and stress of planning a funeral following the death of a loved one is to plan ahead. Call us at (260) 456-0890 to schedule an appointment.

Advertisements

Paper Trail

You probably don’t realize just how many  accounts, policies and important documents you have.  It would take a lot of time and effort just to compile all of this information into one place.  Imagine your loved ones having to do it after you die.stack-of-papers

Just one of the many aspects of pre-planning your funeral involves collecting or documenting all of these items:

Insurance Policies

  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Home Insurance
  • Other Insurance policies (theft, fire, earthquake, etc.)

Bank Accounts

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • Debit cards

Credit Cards

  • Card number
  • Expiration date
  • Recent account statements
  • Login and password information for online account management

Mortgages Or Loans

  • Company through which mortgage or loan was given
  • A copy of the mortgage or loan agreement

Tax Returns

  • Most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
  • Income tax returns for the current and previous year, including 1040 variations and 1099s, if applicable
  • Gift tax returns

Pension Plans And Retirement Benefit Information

  • 401(k) or 403(b) plans
  • IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan
  • Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SARSEP) plan

Titles Or Deeds To Any Property

  • Real estate
  • Motor vehicles
  • Boats

Investment Portfolios

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds

Will

  • Copy of the Will
  • Copies of previous versions of the Will
  • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the Will, if applicable

Trusts

  • Declarations of trust or Trust agreements
  • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the Trust, if applicable
  • Bank accounts associated with the Trust

Power Of Attorney

  • Name of the person appointed to Power Of Attorney
  • Power Of Attorney documentation
  • Name of attorney or law firm that helped create the POA, if applicable

Safe Deposit Box

  • Location of safe deposit box
  • Safe deposit box keys or location of safe deposit box keys

Any Professionals Who Have Helped

  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Insurance agent

Advance Directive

  • Living Will
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

Proof Of Identity And Relationships

  • Social Security card
  • Armed Forces discharge papers
  • Birth certificate
  • Death certificate
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Divorce settlements

Household Utilities

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Phone
  • Cable
  • Internet

Automatically Renewing Medications

  • Names of medications
  • Name of pharmacy where medications are renewed
  • Name of doctor who prescribed medication

Email

  • Gmail
  • Hotmail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • AOL

Online Businesses

  • Amazon
  • PayPal
  • Ebay

Social Media

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Northern Indiana Funeral Care can help you get started on this very important task.  Call us today at (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our Advance Planning Specialists or visit us online at NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com.  Give your family or loved ones the peace of mind they deserve

Dickens on Grief

In 1862, Charles Dickens’s younger sister, Letitia, lost her husband of twenty-five years. In a letter from early October of that year, found in The Letters of Charles Dickens, he envelops Letitia with equal parts compassionate consolation and a call to psychoemotional arms:

“I do not preach consolation because I am unwilling to preach at any time, and know my own weakness too well. But in this world there is no stay but the hope of a better, and no reliance but on the mercy and goodness of God. Through those two harbours of a shipwrecked heart, I fully believe that you will, in time, find a peaceful resting-place even on this careworn earth. Heaven speed the time, and do you try hard to help it on! It is impossible to say but that our prolonged grief for the beloved dead may grieve them in their unknown abiding-place, and give them trouble. The one influencing consideration in all you do as to your disposition of yourself (coupled, of course, with a real earnest strenuous endeavour to recover the lost tone of spirit) is, that you think and feel you can do. . . . I rather hope it is likely that through such restlessness you will come to a far quieter frame of mind. The disturbed mind and affections, like the tossed sea, seldom calm without an intervening time of confusion and trouble.

But nothing is to be attained without striving. In a determined effort to settle the thoughts, to parcel out the day, to find occupation regularly or to make it, to be up and doing something, are chiefly to be found the mere mechanical means which must come to the aid of the best mental efforts.”

Call us today at (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our Advance Planning Specialists or visit Northern Indiana Funeral Care for additional resources for coping with grief.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

I’m an Advance Planning Specialist for Northern Indiana Funeral Care.

The profession I’ve chosen, or has chosen me, has made me a collector of sorts. I collect interesting stories about interesting chararacters. My collection of excuses is pretty grand as well. I’ll share a few with you. My responses are in italics.

stop-making-excuses

I’m too busy.
Busy doing what? Usually there is no answer. Because they aren’t.

I have a doctor’s appointment next week.
There are 5 days next week. How about one of the other 4?

I’m not ready.
What does ready look like? What does ready feel like? How will you know?

I’m not sure what I want.
That’s why we need to meet. I’m a wealth of funeral information. Ask me anything!

I want to talk to my kids first.
Your kids don’t really want to talk about this. My kids didn’t. Your kids would love
to hear you say you’ve taken care of this so they don’t have to.

I can’t afford it.
You don’t know how much it is yet. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know?

Isn’t it kind of morbid to talk about my death?
We won’t be talking about your death, or the dying part. We’ll be talking about
the services your family would like and the costs of those services.

No need to meet. I told my family to put me in a garbage bag and put it at the curb.
Well, then someone has to go to jail. Are you sure that’s what you want?

And my favorite….

I’m not dead yet.
Thank goodness because I’m not a funeral director!

What’s your excuse?

Please consider Advance Planning for yourself. Feel free to contact us at (260) 456-0890  with questions. I’m here to help.  Or visit us online at NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com.

Benefits of Exercise in Coping with Grief

It takes you outside of your head. If you look around you, at the natural setting, or the others in the gym, you see something bigger than you and your individual pain.

It can restore a sense of control. Grief is a mystery; it moves at its own pace and it can be hard to see progress. However, exercise can give you a sense of mastery and confidence.

There are physical benefits. Exercise releases endorphins which can increase your sense of well-being.

It is perfect for the “instrumental” griever. Instrumental grievers are “head-oriented” and don’t want to talk about their feelings. They are more “task-oriented” in their grief process. They want something to do.

It is perfect for the “intuitive” griever. Intuitive grievers are more “heart-oriented.” For them, exercise can provide a way to connect with others and have a sense of community.

A memorial exercise activity has additional benefits. By running or walking in memory of a loved one, you are creating a positive legacy. You are also connecting to the community, which can reduce feelings of isolation so often felt in grief.

Burial vs. Cremation

The rate of cremation has surpassed that of burial in 2015 according to a report released today by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). The 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections features statistics and in-depth analysis of consumer attitudes toward cremation. NFDA is the world’s leading and largest association representing funeral professionals.

According to the 2015 data in the report, the rate of cremation is projected to be 48.5 percent and the rate of burial is projected to be 45.4 percent.

burial-vs-cremation-map

“Funeral professionals have been serving families that prefer cremation for years,” said NFDA President Bob Arrington, CCO. “To us and the families we serve, cremation isn’t just a ‘trend.’ Whether a family chooses cremation or burial, funeral directors want to help families understand the many options they have to commemorate the life of their loved one. And, whether that family prefers a funeral, memorial service, a celebration of life or some other life tribute, funeral directors will be there to offer support and guidance to make their loved one’s service a meaningful and healing experience.”

He continued, “The 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report will help our members understand consumer needs preferences so we can better support the families we serve.”

In addition to statistical information for the United States and countries around the world for which reliable data is available, the 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report also contains data about consumer perceptions of end-of-life ceremonies and cremation.

There are many reasons why consumers choose cremation, including cost considerations, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions and changing consumer preferences.

Many families who choose cremation also commemorate their loved one’s life. More than one-third (36.6 percent) associate cremation with a memorial service and 10.4 percent associate cremation with a viewing and funeral. Only 7.4 percent do not associate cremation with any kind of service at all.

New in the report this year is cremation and burial data for Canada. For 2015, the rate of cremation is 65.5 percent and that of burial is 33.2 percent. The rate of cremation is expected to grow to 89.4 percent by 2035.

http://connectingdirectors.com/articles/48504-2016-nfda-cremation-and-burial-report-released-rate-of-cremation-surpasses-that-of-burial-in-2015

Can I transfer my pre-arranged funeral plan?

As a general rule you may transfer your pre-arranged funeral plan from one funeral provider to another. However, laws of individual states govern the prepayment of funeral goods and services; various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available to pay for the funeral products and services when they’re needed. But protections vary widely from state to state. We are knowledgeable about the laws in Indiana. We are happy to freely review them with you and offer you our advice, guidance and assistance. We will gladly accepts all pre-arranged funeral plan transfers from other funeral homes and we can very likely save you up to 40%.

clouds

Simply gather all the prearranged funeral contract documents you have in your possession and meet with one of our preplanning specialists who will thoroughly review your plans with you. Upon review, we are happy to offer you our counsel on what the next steps need to be. All our services in this regard are free of charge. It is our goal to make this process as simple and hassle free as possible.

Call Northern Indiana Funeral Care today at (260) 456-0890 for information and assistance in transferring your pre-arranged funeral plan.

Burial Vaults

While no laws require burial vaults, there is a general public perception that they are required. This is because most cemeteries have a policy of using vaults. There are good reasons for using concrete and steel burial vaults. They make it easy to locate a grave so as not to disturb human remains when digging an adjacent grave. Vaults prevent grave collapse that does simplify maintenance, but more importantly, avoids a dangerous situation while digging graves with a tractor.

Outer burial containers meet the needs of cemeteries by providing protection again grave collapse but they are not lined or sealed and provide no protection from the elements.

Contact us at Northern Indiana Funeral Care with any questions you might have about burial vaults or funerals in general.  It’s our pleasure to help!  Call (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our Advance Planning specialists.

Funeral Costs

Since the 1960s, National Funeral Directors Association has calculated the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial by totaling the costs of the following items: basic services fee, removal/transfer of remains to funeral home, embalming and other preparation of the body (casketing, cosmetology, dressing and grooming), a metal casket, use of facilities and staff for viewing and a funeral ceremony, use of a hearse, use of a service car/van, and a basic memorial printed package (e.g., memorial cards, register book, etc.).

The national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial for calendar year 2014 was $7,181. If a vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the median cost is $8,508. The cost does not take into account cemetery, monument or marker costs or miscellaneous cash-advance charges, such as for flowers or an obituary.

Over the past decade, the median cost of an adult funeral in the United States has increased 28.6 percent. This is similar to the 2000-2009 period when the median cost of a funeral increased by 26.6 percent. The percent increase during the 1980s (1980-1989) was significantly higher (87 percent), reflecting the significantly higher inflation rates during that decade – See more at: http://www.nfda.org/news/statistics#sthash.XsOJsT22.dpuf

At Northern Indiana Funeral Care, our complete Church Funeral Plans start at just $4,495. That’s $2,686 less than the national median!  You can pre-plan and pre-fund your funeral and lock in today’s prices.  Call us at (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our pre-planning specialists.