Funeral Funding Using Insurance Assignments Made Easy – Funeral Homes Should Not Be Banks!

May 21, 2009

While the focus of Funeral News is to report on death-care related events, we consider our sponsor to be an important asset in the advancement of our cause.  As such, we have asked American Funeral Financial to provide this guest article to our readers.  The following was provided by the fine folks at American Funeral Financial, LLC.

afflogoYou just received a first call.  The family is facing something that, for them, is unusual and, in many cases, unexpected – the death of a loved one.   Not only are they dealing with the emotion of their loss, but are soon to be faced with the costs associated with paying for – what for most is one of the most expensive single purchases of their life.

As funeral directors and/or death care providers the family comes to expect, especially in this day and age, expert service.  What the family may be unprepared for is the immediate need for payment for the goods and services that funeral professionals provide.  On the other hand, unless the family can pay with cash, a valid check or major credit card – you, the funeral service provider, are relegated to becoming a bank.

Times have changed and so have expectations.  Assume for a moment that you were to receive your paycheck on Friday and today is Tuesday.  Could you go to Walmart and purchase groceries with the promise of payment from your check on Friday?  Could secure a cell phone from Verizon with the promise of payment in the future?  The obvious answer to these, or similar questions, is a resounding – NO!  It is no longer reasonable to assume that funeral service providers should be forced to wait for their funds considering the difficulty that many face with insurance assignments today.

Due to the rising costs of goods and services, more and more funeral homes and cemeteries are requiring payment in full prior to providing funeral services getcashnow-newor making the interment.  With the economy today, we find more and more families are relying on insurance as the funding vehicle to pay for those services.  Unfortunately, it can take weeks or even months for the insurance company to pay the claim to the beneficiary or funeral home.  In addition, the paperwork associated with funeral financing via an insurance assignment is becoming more complicated and time consuming, taking valuable time away from doing what you do best – serving families.

American Funeral Financial has created an industry leading proprietary system that takes the burden off of you and your staff and makes the process of funeral funding through insurance assignments easy.

  • No longer do you have to verify the insurance assignment with the insurance company – American Funeral Financial does that for you.
  • No longer do you have to due the burdensome paperwork – American Funeral Financial does that for you.
  • No longer do you have to have experience waiting for your funds – American Funeral Financial pays you the next day following verification.

The process is simple.  Once you have signed on with American Funeral Financial – Your Funeral Funding Experts – you’ll have access to our simple web-based entry system.  Working with the American Funeral Financial web system is easy.  Sign in and in less than 10 minutes you will have the paperwork done and the verification process begun.  American Funeral Financial does the verification for you.  Once you have been notified that the assignment can be done, you will have the beneficiary sign the paperwork (that we prepared for you on the web) and we will fund your services.  It is that simple!  Fees to AFF are competitive and come directly from the policy assignment proceeds so funeral homes and cemeteries are paid their full fee for services rendered.  There is no cost to the funeral home or cemetery.

No waiting for your funds, no hassle, no problems!  American Funeral Financial is a full service firm that is run by professionals with years of experience in the death-care industry.  AFF knows what you need when you need it.

But there’s more!  American Funeral Financial knows that you need your money for services rendered.  You do not need to be the bank!  Likewise, so do the beneficiaries.  Therefore, as part of the process – when your firm has signed up with American Funeral Financial – the funeral funding experts – the beneficiaries of the life insurance policies being assigned are eligible to have advanced to them the remainder of the policy to take care of any short term funding needs that they may have personally.  That’s right – you are paid and they get the funds advanced to them for the remaining part of the policy (assuming they want a personal cash advance).

Our team working for your team when you need it the most – because the cash you have today can have a profound effect on the success of your business tomorrow!


Grave Expectations – Meredith Vieira’s Comments on a Today Show Interview…

April 15, 2009

Funny what one little book can do to change a life.  Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers, with their new book: GRAVE EXPECTATIONS are doing just that.  grave-expectations-bookTheir website states:

It was on the drive home from a deadly funeral that we began to toy with the idea of writing this book. Once we got home, and drank enough champagne, we made the commitment to write it.

Life is such a rich, complicated, joyous, mysterious wild ride. Everyone has stories to tell and lessons to pass on, and what better way to do that than when you’re alive? It was your life; your funeral is the one time you can do and say absolutely whatever you want.

As of this writing, there is no alternative to dying. (You can be cryogenically frozen, but we wouldn’t call that life.) Since there’s no getting out of it, why not go ahead and plan your fantasy going “away” party? Is it just us or have you been seeing too many, “She’s not dead… she’s just away” bereavement cards? Of course you can’t really be too upset since according to the card she’s coming back.

We were destined to write a book about planning one’s own funeral. Between us, we have personally experienced three weddings, two divorces (all Carmen) and five suicides of close family members. We’ve nursed four relatives and friends through deaths due to cancer. We’ve survived cancer (Sue) and meningitis (Carmen) and if all that is not enough, we are both orphans. In spite of these experiences, or because of them, we do not fear death at all . . . we appreciate life that much more.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FUNERAL (or whatever you wish to call it)?

As the population ages and the Baby Boomers come to realize that they have fewer Christmases ahead than they’ve had behind, we all begin to think (from time to time) about our mortality and how we might be remembered by those who are left behind.  Considering the publicity that this book has received, it seems clear that this is on the mind of many, and those who do the interviews are not immune.

Meredith Vieira had these questions on her mind as well.  Here are her comments from her blog:

This morning we did a segment on planning your own funeral, which was inspired by a new book “Grave Expectations.” It was written by two ladies who, after attending one too many funerals that lacked any personal warmth, decided (over one too many glasses of champagne) that people need to change the way they feel about death.

Who better to handle funeral arrangements than the dearly departed…before they go? I know this sounds morbid, but I’ve decided it makes a lot of sense. And it takes the burden off loved ones left behind, allowing them the chance to grieve and celebrate the person who has died without worrying about the funeral arrangements.

In preparing for the segment, I’ve done a lot of thinking about my own farewell. I know I would prefer a party atmosphere with 60’s music (heavy on the Beatles) and lots of Toasted Head Chardonnay. I would want my family and friends to share funny stories along with some sentimental ones. For example, it’s fine to bring up the time I walked half a block with my skirt tucked inside my panty hose after using a public bathroom…but counter it with the time I saved a man who was choking on a chicken bone (ok…maybe that didn’t really happen, but it’s my funeral so I’m allowed to take a few liberties).

I also like the idea of a “green funeral.” even though the thought of a cardboard casket would take some getting used to. Actually, I haven’t decided what to do with my body and it’s become a bone of contention with my husband, Richard, since he thinks I’m going first (romantic, huh?). I’m claustrophobic, so the idea of being in a box, even one that disintegrates, makes me sweat.
And the whole notion of being cremated leaves me cold. My husband keeps saying, “You won’t feel anything,” but how does he know? And according to his game plan, I’m the one who will find out first!

I have considered giving my body to a medical school, but Richard says the students will prop me up, put a party hat on me, and take a lot of goofy pictures. I like a good party as much as the next gal, but his warning has given me pause. Just the same, I know I have to deal with the inevitable. And I hope you start to ponder your hereafter, too. If nothing else, it will remind you how precious life is.  Just drink a few too many glasses of champagne first.  So long, for now…

To Sue and Carmen – CONGRATULATIONS on your new book.  For those who are interested click here to purchase your copy.

To our readers – feel free to comment on just how you would like to be remembered.  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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Green Burial – News Coming Out of Texas. Land Conservation and Burial Combined – A Novel Idea!

April 15, 2009

The Parks and Wildlife Department in Texas plans to become the first government agency in the U.S. to let families lay cremated remains in protected forests for a fee to help the state buy more land for conservation.

Texas will cater to people concerned about environmental impacts of the “death-care industry,” Ted Hollingsworth, the agency’s director of land lens1295546_mountain_springs_sunsetconservation, said in an interview.

“If tens of thousands of people want to take advantage of this opportunity annually, it could easily double the rate at which we’re adding lands to state parks,” Hollingsworth said.

In a Bloomberg article Joe Sehee, Executive Director of the Green Burial Council, had comments that the $12 billion-a-year U.S. funeral industry will need a makeover to meet new demand for back-to-Earth burials and low- energy, low-emission cremations. Customers are now curious about products from biodegradable embalming fluid to caskets made of recycled cardboard.

Consumers are forcing changes on the industry, Sehee said. He expects to have advised cemetery and funeral associations on eco-burials in more than half of the 50 U.S. states by year-end.

“A year ago we had a dozen providers in our network,” Sehee said in an interview. “We have more than 300 now. What’s changed in a year is people see this as an opportunity.”

Champion Company of Springfield, Ohio, will introduce a non-toxic biodegradable embalming fluid this month that provides “reasonable temporary preservation,” said James Bedino, head of research and development. The product, Enigma, challenges the industry’s use of toxic formaldehyde, steel caskets and concrete vaults, all meant to prevent decay.

Cremation, already seen as a more environmental option than a traditional burial, is getting even greener, said Paul Rahill, president of the cremation 00000581division of Matthews International Corp., a casket supplier. Pittsburgh-based Matthews this summer will introduce its newest model of a recycled cardboard casket. The product avoids the use of virgin hardwood, weighs half as much as a wood casket and costs 75 percent less. Cremations in the U.S., which account for 37 percent of burials, are rising by 1 percent a year, Rahill said.

“Their choices have been pretty limited in the past,” Rahill said in an interview. “I can do a cherry paper veneer that looks almost like a cherry hardwood casket.”

Matthews has also developed computer-controlled heat sensors that make cremation furnaces up to 40 percent more energy-efficient. The company later this year plans to install the first bio-cremation system in the U.S. that will use hot water, pressure and an alkali chemical instead of combustion.

“One of our biggest markets is what we call ‘mantle people,’” Ziadie said in an interview. “Cremated remains that are sitting on the mantle with loved ones. They may be there for years. The family may be looking for closure.”

Texas officials are completing a contract with the Green Burial Council to let funeral directors charge a fee for scattering cremated remains in state parks. Part of the revenue will help Texas buy land for conservation.

Green burials represent a small but growing portion of the $12 billion spent annually in the U.S. on funeral and burial services, said Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association. In a 2007 survey by AARP, the Washington-based advocacy group for people 50 and older, 21 percent said they were interested in green burials. That number jumped to 43 percent in a 2008 survey, Sehee said.

Given a choice would you prefer a “Green Burial” for a deceased family member of yours?


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