Michael Williams, owner of Eddy Funeral Home and Wililams Funeral Home in Jamestown, answers questions about issues related to funeral planning that people face when they lose a loved one.

After the death of a loved one, what information should the family have when meeting with the funeral director?

One of the first decisions the family should make is whether the deceased should be prepared for an open-casket funeral with public viewing or cremation with or without viewing. The funeral director also collects information for the death certificate, which includes: full name, date and place of birth, parents’ names, ancestry and race, Social Security number, years of education, marital status and occupation. Obituary information can include most of the same information as the death certificate, plus more personal information of one’s history, hobbies, club involvement, survivors and preceded in death family members.

What is the best way to preplan for funeral arrangements?

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Make an appointment with your funeral director and he or she will discuss the options available. The appointment can take place at the funeral home or at one’s home. It is recommended to discuss funeral options with family members and include their needs as well. The funeral ceremony can be personalized to include the wishes of all family members involved.

What options are there to pay for preplanned funeral arrangements?

A family or individual can meet with a funeral director to estimate the cost of services and merchandise desired. Funds can be set aside, either paid in full or payments, in an interest-bearing account such as an annuity, life insurance policy or trust. A certificate of deposit at one’s bank of choice may also be established and designated to be "Pay on Death" to the funeral home of choice. A copy of the CD should be kept on file at the funeral home.

What is new in recent years in the funeral service field?

North Dakota adopted an amendment to the pre-funded funeral rules recently. The amendment affects those who may be spending down their resources in order to qualify for Medicaid or other public assistance. In this event, the funds should be set aside in an irrevocable account, such as a life insurance policy or trust, before the individual qualifies for public assistance. The amount one may set aside has been raised from $6,000 to a reasonable amount. The funeral director will be able to explain the rules further and determine which option is best to protect burial funds.

Talking about the cost of funeral/memorial services can be difficult. How do you help people navigate this issue?

The funeral director will explore the options with an individual so the services desired fit one’s expected value and economical needs. We understand making decisions at the time of need may be emotional, so we are sure to explain costs thoroughly and itemize each service that may or may not be desired. Third-party costs are also discussed and included, often being advanced for the convenience of the family.

Not everyone is a member of a church. Is a pastor required to officiate at a service?

Clergy are not required to conduct a service but encouraged. Some families want a faith-based connection during a difficult time to begin healing, others do not. Clergy are trained to provide guidance and comfort to those in grief.

A family member or friend may also take a leadership role at a service.