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NJ Virtual Forum: What is the role of a “funeral attendant?”

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NEW JERSEY- The following press release is courtesy of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern New Jersey. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site.

New Jersey residents can now choose a funeral attendant to ensure that instructions for the disposition of their remains are carried out after death. The funeral agent has full legal authority to carry out, with the help of funeral directors or cremation professionals, the end-of-life wishes of a spouse, family member, loved one or from a friend.

The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern New Jersey will host a virtual program on Sunday, May 1 at 2:15 p.m. on “The Importance of Designating a Funeral Attendant to Fulfill Your End-of-Life Wishes.” The presentation is a practical guide to having a conversation with your loved ones about selecting a funeral agent and what the agent is authorized to do.

The Funeral Officer Lecture will be presented by Warren County Assistant Deputy Thomas K. Thorp, who will share information about funeral officer law and officer responsibilities. It will also explain the painful issues that can arise if a person dies without leaving clear plans for disposing of their remains.

Admission is free, but pre-registration is required.

FCANNJ members, their guests and the public are invited to attend. There are no fees. Participants are requested to pre-register by clicking on the FCANNJ website: https://fcannj.org/.

Thorp will provide the following information about funeral attendants:

  • Brief Summary of Funeral Agent Law in New Jersey
  • Benefits of using a funeral agent
  • Importance of taking the time to share your end-of-life arrangements and wishes with family, loved ones or friends
  • How to download the free “Appointment of an Agent to Supervise Funeral and Disposal of Remains” form (available on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs website)
  • Quick details on how to complete the form, where to store (avoid safe deposit boxes) and who should receive copies.

Thorp will also take questions from the audience after the presentation.

Thorp said: “Every year there are stories of families arguing over the funeral, burial or cremation of a deceased loved one. The disputes have led to family members continuing in court and they’ve spent thousands of dollars in legal fees. Eventually, an assistant prosecutor rules on the disposition of the loved one’s body.”

The Assistant Surrogate encourages families to discuss a loved one’s end-of-life plans long before a person dies or becomes chronically ill.

Thomas K. Thorp was called to the bar in 1985. He is licensed to practice law in New Jersey. He was in private practice from 1985 to 2011 and has served as Warren County’s deputy attorney since 2011.

The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern New Jersey (FCANNJ) is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization, which is not affiliated with any funeral and cremation service providers, cemetery companies or online counseling companies that advise families about death and dying. FCANNJ’s mission is to provide objective end-of-life planning advice that individuals and families can trust and use to become more informed consumers of funeral services. The organization also recommends that families choose environmentally friendly end-of-life arrangements. FCANNJ, part of the National Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), serves the communities of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren and parts of Somerset counties. The New Jersey chapters of the FCA were founded in the 1960s by volunteers from Montclair, Morristown and Paramus, NJ. More information is available by visiting the organization’s website www.fcannj.org.

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