Saturday, February 2, 2008


When the death of a loved one occurs both expected and unexpected our emotional state of mind is disrupted from its normal train of thought. There are many decisions that are going to be made and we want to make the best decisions so that we have no regrets at a later time. One of those decisions we will need to make is HOW WILL I PAY FOR THE EXPENCES OF THE FUNERAL OR CREMATION SERVICES AND WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

Many funeral homes today require some form of payment to be chosen at the time of arrangements. They will need to understand how you intend on paying for these expenses as well as assist you in setting the parameters as to when payment is expected.

Because it is understood that the expense of caring for the death of a loved one is often unexpected and unplanned, many funeral homes offer choices in which you may fulfill your financial commitment.

Here are some of the most common forms of accepted payment from most funeral homes:

1.) Payment paid with Cash, Check, Credit Card(s), Bank Certified Check, Money Order, etc.

2.) Insurance Policy. The funeral home has an expertise and specific contacts with most insurance companies. They can generally accomplish the filing for death benefit expeditiously on your behalf. Let’s say the Insurance Policy has a death benefit Value of $25,000. Now let’s also say that you choose a funeral or cremation service that may cost $7,000 for example. The funeral home will also have you sign a form that is called an Assignment Form. This form allows the funeral home to be paid by the insurance company only for the specified amount of the funeral charges that they are rendering. The remaining $18,000 of the insurance policy will be forwarded to the named policy beneficiaries. We must keep in mind before the funeral home can make claim with the insurance company, they must have a certified death certificate and this can oftentimes take anywhere from a week or longer depending on how quick the deceased attending physician signs the certificate.

3.) Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements – The family can pre-pay their funeral arrangements in advance of the death and these funds will be used to pay for the final expenses at the funeral home.

4.) Estates – Families oftentimes ask if the funeral expenses can be paid from the assets of the estate of their family member. Due to the difficulty in predicting with exactness the time required for probate and eventual settlement of an estate, most funeral homes will not accept this as a form of security on an account. It has been found that in these instances that it is often best for a family member(s) to settle the account with the funeral home and then they may apply for reimbursement from the state.

5.) Department of Human Services – In the state of West Virginia in certain instances when a deceased person dies and has no known assets assistance is provided from the Department of Human Services. The total amount paid to the funeral home from the Dept. of Human Services is $1,250 and an additional $1,200 can be paid by the family to the funeral home to help cover expenses. When utilizing this form of state assistance the total amount that can be charged for services and merchandise rendered from the funeral home must not exceed $2,450. As one might imagine the services and merchandise requirements from the state is for quite simple and basic funeral or cremation arrangements. Your funeral director will assist you in filing the necessary documents to apply for this benefit.

6.) Bank, Finance Company – Oftentimes the funeral home can provide you with the names and in some instances the applications to apply for credit with banks and finance companies.

7.) Monthly Payments - In years past many small businesses (Funeral Homes) received monthly payments as a form of re-payment program. Today these businesses are under the scrutiny of many government and banking agencies if they were to offer this form of re-payment. These regulations restrict the funeral homes ability to do so. They would need to be recognized as a bank or loan institution to properly offer this form of payment. For a funeral home to properly accept monthly payments, with accompanying interest charges they must offer all Truth in Lending also known as Regulation Z Documentation as if you were applying for a bank loan. This can be cumbersome for the family applying as well as the funeral home offering the financing. Also remember that with a funeral or cremation the funeral home has very little recourse should one fail to keep their commitment in paying the funeral home for the final expenses other than legal action which no funeral home ever wants to consider.

The bottom line is that death is really no different than everything else we do in life. We have a moral obligation to pay for what we purchase even at death. We must plan for this appointment which is appointed to all of us. Planning is the key to an uncomfortable discussion during one of the most difficult times in our lives. Keep in mind that you have the ability to control your expenses by choosing services and merchandise options that stays within your personal budget.

Your funeral and cremation provider is there to assist you in selecting the right options that best suits your individual needs.

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