Although pre-planning may seem intimidating, millions of North Americans pre-plan their funerals every year, because they have discovered the many emotional and financial benefits advance planning brings.
Over our eight decades of funeral service, we have consistently found that families whose loved ones have made a pre-arrangement will have a dramatically different experience compared to families without a plan.
Why Should I Pre-Plan My Funeral?
One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is to plan your funeral now. We know it’s a difficult thing to consider, but advance planning brings comfort and relief from emotional and financial distress when the time of death comes. Having a plan actually creates space for your loved ones to participate in your funeral in the three most meaningful ways:
- Bearing witness to the loss itself by taking time to experience the constellation of feelings that accompany the death of a loved one
- Collaborating with our Tribute Planners to create a meaningful ceremony to honor “A Life Well Remembered”—and participating in this process as much or as little as they desire
- Inviting members of the community to share in their experience and establish a network that will support them as they begin to adjust to life after loss
Here are just a few of the many benefits pre-planning provides:
- Helps to ensure that your family isn’t left with the burden of making important decisions during a time of great emotional distress and confusion
- Ensures that every aspect of your final wishes are communicated to your family in an organized way, removing the guesswork
- Removes the financial burden from your family—some pre-payment options allow you to lock in services and merchandise at today’s prices and avoid the rising costs of inflation
- Guarantees that your final arrangements will be honored even if you have no surviving family members left
Advance Funeral Planning in New Jersey
Did you know that New Jersey is considered one of the most consumer-protective states in the country regarding advance funeral planning? Several agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science, the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, and the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance have combined their efforts to establish policies and standards regarding pre-planning. This collaboration helps to ensure that families have the confidence to plan their funerals in advance with the funeral home of their choice.
Bradley & Son Funeral Homes prides itself on its excellent reputation within our communities for not only adhering to local and federal regulations, but also for going above and beyond the minimum in many situations. We have a thorough understanding of all the legal considerations of the pre-planning process and how they affect your family’s interests—both today and in the years ahead.
Who’s in charge?
You are in charge only if you have appropriate documentation in order. Our Advance Planning specialist can assist you with this when you preplan. When advance planning is not completed properly then the State of New Jersey determines who will make decisions for you based on the following hierarchy:
- Funeral Agent (in some circumstances)
- Children over age 18 (majority)
- Other family members based on their level of blood relationship to you
- Public administrator designated by the court
As you might guess, this legal aspect of the funeral planning process can often create tension among family members if it’s not addressed before the time of need. By planning your funeral in advance, your next of kin will only be required to authorize the plans you have selected and paid for.
Simply Having a Will Isn’t Good Enough
Having a Last Will and Testament is a wonderful and very necessary part of the broader advance planning process; however, indicating your final wishes within your Last Will and Testament is simply not enough. In most cases, the Will is not referred to (or even made accessible to your family) until the estate settlement process is underway, which is often several weeks following the completion of the funeral itself.
Additionally, simply communicating your final wishes via your Will does not provide any financial reassurance for your family, even if you do have funds set aside. By the time your Will is made accessible to your family, they may have already had to make difficult financial decisions in order to complete the funeral or may have even made concessions with the services because they didn’t know how to pay for it all. Because of this, any time-sensitive decisions, such as your final wishes and the allocation of funds to pay for the funeral, should be discussed beforehand with our Advance Planning Specialist. Copies of all of your records should be kept separately and immediately accessible to you and your family members.
Why Pre-Pay for Your Funeral?
Most of us own some type of insurance to protect us through many different facets of life: Health, Life/Disability, Car, and Home are just a few examples. We go through the effort of planning for what might happen by securing these policies, so why not plan for the one thing that we know will happen?
The cost of funerals and cremations increases every year. You can spare your family a great deal of financial stress by pre-paying. Bradley Funeral Homes is proud to offer a variety of ways to pre-pay for your funeral, so you can select the option that best fits your needs. When you pre-plan and pre-pay with Bradley, you can be certain that your arrangements will cost no more than they cost today—whether your time comes a year from now or 30 years from now.
What does pre-paying do?
- Ensures money will be available for your funeral when needed
- Offers you peace of mind that your funeral arrangements will be covered even if you have no family members to pay your final expenses
- Helps your family avoid ever-increasing funeral costs
- Some payment options lock in funeral home costs at today’s prices
While specific options vary between funeral homes, not all funeral homes are the same. There are three ways to pre-pay a funeral, all of which comply with the State of New Jersey Prepaid Funeral Funding laws.
1) Funeral Insurance or Annuity: An insurance policy or annuity is a great way to ensure that your family will have funds available to cover your funeral costs. In New Jersey, these policies can only be issued by a licensed funeral director who is also licensed to sell life insurance—not all funeral homes offer this option, but Bradley Funeral Homes is proud to make this option available to our families.
The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance oversees and approves all contracts, adding another layer of protection to your pre-planning experience. The premium for a funeral insurance contract reflects the cost of the funeral today, and at the time of death the funds are paid directly to the funeral home to cover the cost of the services, including any rise in price due to inflation—protecting your family from any additional out of pocket expense.
Our Advance Planning Specialist is both a New Jersey Licensed Funeral Director and is licensed to sell funeral insurance policies.
2) Existing Life Insurance: The policy can be assigned to the funeral home or if it’s financially feasible, you can cash out the value of an existing policy and place it in a prepaid funeral fund to cover the costs of a prearrangement. If cashing out the policy is not feasible, the funeral home can complete an insurance assignment on the proceeds of the policy by naming the funeral home as the policy’s owner. The proceeds are then assigned to the funeral home to be used as payment for all funeral costs at the time of death—your family will never have to deal with the insurance company.
3) Prepaid Funeral Trust Fund Account: Most funeral homes use the New Jersey Prepaid Funeral Trust Fund,™ a commingled trust offered through the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, Inc.
All of the above three prepaid funeral funding vehicles must remain revocable unless the individual is applying for SSI/Medicaid, or other general assistance programs in the State of New Jersey.
Are pre-paid funerals price-guaranteed? Some funeral homes offer a partial price guarantee on funerals pre-paid with a trust fund, but most do not. Interest or growth earned on these accounts may help to offset rises in cost due to inflation, but that’s not always enough. If the funds available don’t cover the current price of the planned services, your family may choose to pay the difference out of pocket or modify the funeral arrangements to stay within the available amount of funds.
Bradley’s Advance Planning Specialist will work with you to design a plan that fits your unique situation and budget.
Are You or a Loved One Anticipating Going on SSI/Medicaid?
In New Jersey, individuals must have limited resources in order to qualify for the long-term care assistance of the SSI/Medicaid program. However, funds located in an irrevocable funeral contract are not considered a financial resource, and therefore do not disqualify a person from receiving SSI/Medicaid benefits. Pre-planning and pre-paying a funeral is one of the most effective ways to expedite this qualification process and is therefore recommended to most families as a first step in the “spend down” process.Our Advance Planning Specialist can answer your questions and help you complete this process in just one conference. Additionally, existing revocable pre-paid funeral arrangements can be converted easily to irrevocable status for this purpose if your family’s circumstances ever change.
Honoring Those Who Served Our Country
If a veteran dies at a veteran’s facility, transportation costs to the funeral home and place of disposition may be reimbursed. Free burial in a New Jersey veterans’ cemetery and perpetual care of the space is available to all veterans with residency in New Jersey, their spouses, and dependent children. Additionally, veterans are entitled to one free certified copy of the death certificate, as well as a military honor guard flag presentation ceremony at the committal service.
If cemetery rules allow, a granite or bronze marker will be provided free of charge. The Veterans’ Association encourages pre-registration for these benefits, and our Advance Planning Specialist will assist you with these applications.
Are You On Public Assistance?
The State of New Jersey extends Public Assistance eligibility to a wide range of individuals and helps them pay for funeral expenses through the Department of Human Services. Depending on the age of the person at the time of death, the state will contribute a predetermined amount of money towards funeral home expenses, cemetery expenses, and will define how much money the family is permitted to contribute to the final costs.
Complete the contact form below and Ron Mowad, our Certified Advance Planning Consultant, will call you to set up an appointment.
Begin the planning process by completing the form below. Once you submit the form, Ron Mowad will contact you with the next steps.
Ronald (Ron) M. Mowad, Sr. CPC
Certified Advance Planning Consultant
NJ Licensed Funeral Director, No. 3352
Call Ron at (973) 635-2428, ext: 139