After a death has occurred there are many decisions to be made and details to be organized. The time set aside to accomplish these things is called the arrangement conference. Depending on the complexity or amount of details needed, this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can greatly reduce confusion and stress during this time.
During an arrangement conference you can expect a few things to happen. Your funeral director will want to complete information to file a death certificate with the state. A death certificate requires information such as the deceased social security number, birth and death dates, military status, place of death etc. This is information you will have to provide.
This is also the time where all services will be scheduled and your wishes will be recorded. You will have a chance to discuss disposition options and choose the services you wish to have for your loved one. At this point you will be asked to provide information on clergy, music, pallbearers, memorial items and other details, so being prepared can make this less stressful and go much smoother as you are not panicked to make a decision.
You will also be responsible for choosing a casket or urn if needed during the arrangements conference. Your funeral director will show you all merchandise that would be appropriate for the services you have chosen.
Obituaries are also prepared during this time. As you know, obituaries are typically full of information. Taking time before you come to the funeral home to make notes will come in handy. Make a list of all the survivors you want mentioned in the obituary. You may realize that you are unsure of someone’s name or how it’s spelled. Also, jot down the history of the deceased that you would want featured. Taking some time to do this will ensure nothing is forgotten or left out.
Finally, one of the last remaining expectations of an arrangement conference is payment details. This can be one of the more stressful situations when a death occurs but there should be options available to you to make this easier. If you have insurance policies, estate information, or if the funeral was prefunded, make sure to bring any and all documentation with you to the funeral home. If you plan on paying in full, using a credit card, or financing the funeral, come prepared with your financial information on hand.
Dealing with Family While Planning a Funeral Service
As with any major event in life, some unexpected problems or hurdles can arise. One of those hurdles can be your family dynamic. Does your family normally agree on everything? Most families do not. Discussing certain things with your family prior to the arrangements conference may help to alleviate some of the conflict. Make sure it is clearly understood who is the primary decision maker and try to include your family and consider that everyone has suffered a loss. Tension and stress tends to run high in an emotional situation such as a death and taking a few minutes to have a calm discussion with your family will pay off in the long run.
What to Prepare for the Arrangement Conference
With the right information and a willingness to take the time to be prepared, a funeral arrangements conference can go smooth and relatively stress free. Decisions will be much easier to make if you know what to expect and have given it some thought beforehand.
Here is a short checklist of items to remember:
- Deceased social security number and date of birth
- A photo for memorial cards and/or obituary if applicable
- Military discharge papers (DD-214) if applicable
- Clothing for the deceased
- Obituary information
- Insurance information
- Service times/details
Now that you are prepared, there is one last thing you should keep in mind when facing the possibility of needing the services of a funeral service provider. The funeral home has legal responsibilities to you as their client. Most funeral service professionals have your best interests in mind, but there is a federal organization to regulate the requirements of the facility to protect you as the consumer. The FTC or the Federal Trade Commission enforces the Funeral Rule which requires all those in the funeral service industry to be up front and honest about their pricing and packaging details. In essence, The Funeral Rule states that a provider must supply you with a written price list and written descriptions of all the goods and services that are available to you. This protects you from being blindsided or confused about what the funeral home offers.
Funeral Homes all have similar rules and regulations but each provider operates just a little differently. If you have questions about the specifics of your local funeral home, give them a call and asked to speak to a licensed funeral director and they should be able to answer any questions you may have.