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 our prearrangement specialist, Mona Lane, at (260) 466-3465 to schedule an appointment.

Never a Better Time to Plan Ahead

A consumer survey conducted by the Wirthlin Group found that 80% of Americans “believe funeral prearrangement is a good idea.”

Ten Reasons I Would Choose To Plan Ahead

  1. I want to relieve my surviving family members of the highly emotional burden associated with funeral arrangement decisions by reducing family stress, anxiety and confusion. I wish to ensure my family is free from risk, bickering, uncertainty, unnecessary worry, grief and bereavement.
  2. I want to express my own unique wishes so my family will not have to guess what I would have wanted. I want to design my own special services!
  3. I want to make informed, thoughtful decisions and not just react.
  4. I want to make these important decisions with the consultation of my family.
  5. I want to relieve any possible conflict and/or misunderstandings about my wishes among immediate family members or “blended” family members at an emotional time.
  6. I want to relieve my family of the financial strain associated with my final expenses.
  7. I want to reduce the chance my family will “emotionally overspend” on my final arrangements.
  8. I want to ensure my funeral expenses are Medicaid/SSI exempt, thus protecting my assets from confiscation due to unforeseen nursing home or long-term care expenses.
  9. I want to safe guard my checking, savings, life insurance and/or estate assets for my family. Not pay them out in funeral expenses.
  10. I want to provide my family security and peace of mind just knowing it is all taken care of and not left for others to deal with.

Call Northern Indiana Funeral Care at (260) 456-0890 for more information about planning ahead.  Or visit us at NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com.

Friday Afternoons at the Funeral Home

It happens every Friday afternoon. It begins around 2:00 p.m. Just when most of us are counting down the hours at the end of the work week. The call comes in to the funeral home from a relative who has suddenly realized that their loved one may not make it through the weekend. They may even walk in to the funeral home hoping to meet with someone.

afternoon

Most weeks from 2000-2013, I met with 2 or 3 of these families a week. These “near death” appointments are not easy for anyone. The family is struggling to accept the inevitable and are many times unsure about how they will feel when it happens.

Some funeral homes have these families meet with a prearrangement counselor prior to the death, and then again with a funeral director after the death occurs. A few times the death happened while the family was meeting with me. Heartbreaking. Just think, they could have been with their loved one, holding their hand as the last breaths were taken, but instead were sitting at the funeral home…with me.

Other funeral homes believe that these “near death” families should meet with a funeral director, once. All can be decided except for service times. Some families actually attempt to schedule services before the death has occurred. They seem certain that the death will happen on a certain day. But death is inconvenient. I often say: “Man plans and God laughs.” These families are just trying to do something, because they feel powerless. No one likes to feel powerless.

Most of my waking hours are spent trying to coax, cajole, encourage or beg families to make these plans in advance. I acknowledge fully that it doesn’t sound like any fun at all. I can say with complete honesty, that the discomfort you may have in planning for yourself pales in comparison to what your family will go through if you don’t do it.

The “near death” appointments take 2 to 3 times as long as one planning for themselves. One of my favorite things to say to a person reluctant to set an appointment is: “We only need about an hour.” You can do anything for an hour. Especially if it saves your family 2-3 difficult hours with a funeral director.

Please consider Advance Planning for yourself. Feel free to call me at 260-466-3465 with questions. I’m here to help!

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

New Year’s Resolutions

Hi, I’m Mona Lane. I help with Advance Planning here at Northern Indiana Funeral care.

As we near January 1st, 2017, many of us are already thinking of ways to be better next year. You know, making resolutions to be thinner, healthier, stronger, better organized, save more, spend less, etc.

These same resolutions are made year after year. Then we can feel rotten next December when reflecting on what we’ve accomplished and what we didn’t.

One easy resolution to make is to not leave a mess for your family when you die. The steps for that are simple:

Make an appointment with your attorney for a Will, Living Will and Power of Attorney
If you already have one, then review it and make changes if necessary. If you don’t have
an attorney, I can help. I’ve worked with many over the years and am happy to refer you
to one that meets your needs.

Make an appointment for funeral or cremation planning
If you don’t know what you want, how can your family know what to do? I am happy to meet with you to explore your options. You don’t need to know everything in order to meet with me.

Pay for your funeral or cremation if you can
There are many options with choices diminishing as you age. It doesn’t hurt to find out
what they are.

new-year-resolutions

If you want to feel like you accomplished something at the end of 2017, call me now to schedule an appointment to explore funeral or cremation planning. I’m already setting appointments for January. Or, stick with the same old resolutions you’ve made every year and I will see you back here next December encouraging you to get this done…again.

Feel free to call me at 260-456-0890 with questions about funeral planning. I’m here to help.

Please visit our website at NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com. Take a look around, notice our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the endorsements from the American Legion Department of Indiana and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.

The Gift of Love

My name is Mona Lane. I’ve been helping families with Advance Planning for the past 18 years.

It’s that time of year – the Holidays! But also a time when I become fairly unpopular. No matter how much fun my appointments are, the laughter we share, the hugs at the end, the satisfaction knowing that funeral/cremation plans have finally been made, I am persona non grata beginning with Thanksgiving week.

I get it…I think. Who wants to talk about depressing stuff around the holidays? I love meeting people and helping them prearrange, so it’s not depressing to me. People I call have been telling me for weeks to “get with me after the holidays.” After 18 years of this, I accept it without arguing.

transparent_merry_christmas_decor_png_clipart

 

These years have also taught me that life happens during the holidays too. Mothers will get a cancer diagnosis, fathers will have a stroke, husbands will have a freak accident, wives will have a car accident. So for many families “after the holidays” is a bit late for them. I have no crystal ball, so I simply say: “I’ll give you a call in January.” Then the excuses will run more like: it’s so cold, call me when it’s warmer, we’re heading to Florida, call us in the spring….but I digress.

There are a handful of people I have already met who are planning to discuss their funeral plans during holiday gatherings. This is what they tell me. This is what I know: “No. You won’t.” In theory it sounds like a great idea, everyone is here, we can discuss this together. In reality, the grandkids and the great grandkids are there too. The family is happy. What better time to discuss your funeral plans? So I know your intentions are good, but I also know you won’t go through with it. I will call you in January and you will say: “I’ll see them all again at Easter.”

My suggestion, that never wavers, is to make your plans and tell your family very simply that you’ve taken care of your funeral/cremation planning. It’s not a bombshell that ruins your holiday gathering and it’s a gift your family will appreciate later.

Feel free to call me at 260-466-3465 with questions regarding funeral or cremation planning. I am here to help no matter what time of year it is!

It’s an emergency…again *sigh*

It’s been a busy and draining week for me over here at the funeral home.  Through my prospecting and phoning efforts last week I had 8 Advance Planning appointments set for myself.   That’s an awesome feeling on Sunday evening, knowing a productive week lay ahead.

Then Monday morning dawned.  It turned into something far different, and far less satisfying.

A brochure request came through our website.  I dropped it off at the post office within an hour and went on to begin running those appointments I had worked so hard for.  At 1:00 pm a woman called and wanted to meet for advance planning.  It was the family I had just mailed a brochure to hours before.    I tried to fit her in on Thursday or Friday.  No, it needed to be sooner.  The appointment was shoved into an already tight schedule for Tuesday, but that’s ok.  More driving, but that’s part of the job.

Tuesday morning she called and cancelled.  Her husband was in the hospital and not expected to make it.  He didn’t, and now they are meeting with a funeral director on Thursday instead of me.

My 6:00 pm appointment called me at 5:45 pm to say: “tonight isn’t good”.  I’d driven 25 miles and was nearly there.  Another appointment  was spent helping a family plan for an 103 year old’s funeral.  They stood me up and then complained when I couldn’t get them back into my schedule.  They needed it done by the end of the month for Medicaid purposes…and they were leaving on vacation.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s I worked in Production and  Inventory Control for a local factory.  My favorite quote at that time was: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”                                        

Here at the funeral home I cannot say this, even though I think it and even say it to myself…A LOT.

How does someone get to 103 without considering that they might die?  How do her kids in their 70’s not think about it either until it must be done in a week?  The man that died this week was not yet 70, but had a known illness.   They still waited until 2 days before his death to begin to make plans.  The person who cancelled 15 minutes before their appointment will most likely call back when it’s a crisis as well.  And you know what?  I will take that call, meet them with kindness and compassion that they will need at that time.

The other 38 hours in that week I will work at educating the public that advance planning is a great thing to do for yourself and your family, that it only takes about an hour, and that 55 is a great age to start thinking about it.

Please consider advance planning.  Call me for questions or to set an appointment.  260-466-3465.

Please visit our website at: www.northernindianafuneralcare.com  Take a look around.  We put our prices on our website (shouldn’t everyone?).  Notice the A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the endorsements from the American Legion Department of Indiana and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.

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.”

Northern Indiana Funeral Care offers additional resources for coping with grief.

Let’s Talk

My name is Mona Lane. I’ve been helping families with Advance Planning for the past 18 years.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on Communication. Ugh, I know. Who wants to hear: “We need to talk.”? No one.

I’ve experienced a couple issues regarding communication this week. Just in case I may have forgotten what the word means I looked it up (on Google).

The imparting or exchanging of information or news.

Means of connection between people or places, in particular.

In my work in Advance Planning I spend a lot of time trying to find people to impart information to. I do this in dozens of ways every week. It is probably the worst part of the work, for me any way. It is solitary. I am excited every day about what I do and how I can help. The struggle to find someone to share that with is real. For a few precious hours this week I was in the presence of people that were glad to meet with me and were hungry for the information I could share. We laughed, we had fun, they learned new funeral or cremation things, and through that they were able to decide what they wanted for themselves and their families.

I am an expert in a field that many are hesitant to discuss. I get it. Really.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Anon

My suggestion is for all of us to better communicate with those we love, and also to communicate your wishes for your funeral and or cremation with someone like me. I promise not to talk at you when we meet. I will always strive for an exchange of information and a connection that will make the whole process more enjoyable…for both of us.

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” – Anon

Feel free to contact me with questions about Advance Planning. (260)466-3465.

Please visit our website at: www.northernindianafunercare.com. Take a look around, notice our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, our local ownership, the endorsements from the American Legion Department of Indiana and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.