Questions and Answers

Q. What happens when I join the Los Angeles Funeral Society?

A. When your membership form and dues are received by the Society, you are mailed a membership card and an “Instructions to Mortuary” form. It is important that you do three more things:

  1. Complete the “Instructions to Mortuary” form, retain a copy of the form and return the rest of the form to the Society. Then, the Society will send your form to the mortuary which you have designated and that mortuary will keep your form on file. Keep your copy of the form with your other estate-planning documents.
  2. Fill in the name of the mortuary which you have designated on your membership card and place the card in your wallet or some other place where survivors will find it in the event of your death.
  3. Tell your family, others who are close to you, and/or your estate planning attorney (if any) about your Society membership and the location of your “Instructions to Mortuary” form and other estate-planning papers.
  4. You are a life member of the Society with full voting privileges. You will receive a yearly notice regarding the Society’s annual meeting. Currently, the  annual newsletter will only be available on the LASFS website.

Q. What if I have questions regarding how to fill out the “Instructions to Mortuary” form which LAFS has provided to me?

A. LAFS staff are available Monday through Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Society’s office and are happy to address your questions. Simply call or email the Society.

Q. How do I notify the Society regarding changes which I may want to make to my funeral plan?

A. If you decide to change the participating mortuary which you have designated, or any aspect of the “Instructions to Mortuary” which you have previously submitted, simply call or e-mail the LAFS office. [Do we mail a new “Instructions” form in the event of changes? Ask Marge]

Q. Does pre-planning for my funeral involve paying in advance?

A. Pre-planning does not mean pre-paying. Some of our participating mortuaries may have pre-payment arrangements available, and we recognize that some members may choose pre-payment. However, Los Angeles Funeral Society does not advocate pre-paying for funeral services, due to the risks involved:

  1. You are handing over a substantial sum of money to a funeral director who is expected to hold that money for you for years, perhaps decades. If that business is irresponsible in managing their trust funds, you can lose every dollar which you have pre-paid. One major mortuary chain, and a number of large cemeteries, have gone bankrupt within the last few years.
  2. If your survivors are unable to use the pre-paid mortuary as the result of your having moved or your dying while away from home, your family will not receive a complete refund of the pre-paid funds. If fact, under some plans you are refunded only about one-half.
  3. There are other ways to leave money earmarked for funeral expenses. For example, open a joint bank account in your name and the name of a family member or other survivor, put anticipated funeral expenses in it, and tell the family member about it.

Q. What happens if members die and survivors don’t know what mortuary they have designated as part of their pre-planning?

A. When members pre-planning forms are provided to the designated mortuary, their mortuary designation is recorded in the Society’s membership database. Survivors need only call the Society office at (626) 683-3545 and information regarding the mortuary designated by the deceased member will be provided. Of course, it is critical that members discuss their choices, and the fact of their Society membership, with family members or close friends so that survivors will know how to contact either the Society or the participating mortuary. Each member is provided with a wallet card with the necessary information. A “Before I Go, You Should Know” planning packet is available for a nominal charge.

Q. Can survivors have the benefits of the Society’s arrangements with participating mortuaries even if their loved one was not a Society member before death?

A. Survivors who contact the LAFS office, or any mortuary which participates in the Society’s program, can take advantage of the Society’s program by signing up an “at-need” (that is, at time of death) membership in their name of the deceased. This entitles the family of the deceased to the predetermined prices which the Society has arranged with each funeral director. The Society has a 24 hour hotline which describes this process and lists each participating mortuary, so that families have access to “at-need” memberships at any time of day or night.

Q. Is the Los Angeles Funeral Society an opponent of the funeral industry in general?

A. No. We need the funeral industry. It is possible to care for your own loved one after death without a mortuary, and it can be a fulfilling, life-affirming experience for those who are committed to the significant work involved. The Society has information available for people who want to consider this. However, most people will choose to use a mortuary. We are committed to the consumer’s right to have honest, dignified and affordable services from members of the funeral industry, and we hope that mortuaries which provide honest, dignified and affordable services will be successful.

Q. Is the Society a referral-service for the funeral industry?

A. No. The Society makes arrangements with specific mortuaries in our area because that is the only way to ensure that members have immediate access to a mortuary which will have 1) pre-determined, fair prices which have been reviewed by the Society; 2) existing records regarding the members funeral choices; 3) an understanding of the concerns of Society members, particularly the need for discussing the deceased member’s choices with his/her survivors.

Q. Is the Society a discount plan for funerals?

A. No. The Society looks for prices which are competitive with the best which are offered by the industry in our area. In some cases, participating mortuaries may offer those prices to non-members as well. We think that’s great; everyone should pay fair prices for funeral services! The point is that Society members have the assurance that their plans include prices which are pre-determined and fair, and that the services which they will receive have been pre-determined and specified in the Society’s plan.

Q. Are members and their survivors locked in to a funeral price and plan?

A. Absolutely not. When your survivors contact the mortuary which you have designated, they are informed of the choices which you have made and the LAFS member prices for those services. They are not obligated to make arrangements with the participating mortuary. If they do make arrangements with the participating mortuary, they are free to make changes in the services which you have indicated or to request additional services, and they will be charged accordingly. The point is that they know what you wanted when they make their choices.

Q. Is the price for the mortuary’s services locked in at the time that I join LAFS?

A. When you join LAFS, you receive a list of participating mortuaries with the prices in effect at that time. Some members have died more than 40 years after joining, and obviously, what is considered a “fair” price hasn’t stayed the same for that long. So, your survivors pay the price which is in effect between LAFS and the participating mortuary at the time that funeral services are provided. Those prices are re-negotiated between LAFS and the participating mortuaries approximately every 18 months, and year-to-year increases, if any, are generally quite small.

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