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Prepaying for your funeral — it’s not exactly exciting dinner conversation material, but for more Americans these days, it’s an important consideration. Prices for funeral services and burial products continually increase with inflation. More people are choosing to customize their funeral and burial to suit their specific needs and desires. Therefore, thinking ahead about your own funeral will help you make better decisions about your legacy and your family’s finances. So, should you prepay your funeral? This article will give you the information to help you make that decision.
What Does it Mean to ‘Prepay’ for Your Funeral?
Funeral planning means thinking about and selecting the kind of funeral you want to have. It allows you to compare prices of cemeteries, caskets, memorial marketers, etc., and to decide which options are right for you.
One of the biggest decisions is where and how you want to be buried. Whether you choose burial or cremation, and in-ground or above-ground, is a deeply personal matter. By pre-planning at least that element, you’re saving your family from having to make such a difficult decision under difficult circumstances. Having to rush around to find a cemetery and purchase a plot in less than a week’s time isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when you’re consumed by grief.
By selecting your burial site and choosing how you’d prefer to be buried, you have the option to prepay for your plot, crypt, or cremation niche. It’s a popular option because prices typically go up over time. By locking in the price now, you’re also saving your family money.
But that’s just the burial. How about the funeral service itself?
Can You Prepay for Just Part of Your Funeral?
One thing to keep in mind is what we talk about when we say prepaying a funeral or prepaying a burial. They are actually two different things: the funeral involves the service itself, along with the officiant, the flowers, etc., while the burial involves the memorial items such as a casket or cremation urn, burial plot of scattering garden, and the like. When people ask, “Should I prepay my funeral?” they might mean the whole thing, or they might mean just the service or just the burial. Whether you can arrange both at once depends on the location — typically you’ll want to go with a MemorialPlanning.com cemetery that has an accompanying funeral home.
When prepaying a funeral or a burial or both, there is a lot to consider. If you want a casket, what color and type of material; if you want a memorial, is a flat marker or a headstone monument; how religious do you want the service to be; what type of music or readings would you like; who should speak? These are all questions to think about in advance.
It can be confusing, so if you’d like to talk briefly with a burial planning expert, they can help answer some of your questions. You can start by searching for a cemetery near you.
Additional Questions to Ask When You’re Planning Ahead
Besides talking to a burial planning expert about whether you should prepay for your funeral, you can also speak to someone from a funeral home. If you think you might want to prepay for funeral service goods or services, here’s a list of questions you might want to ask:
- What is covered in a prepay agreement?
- Is there an expiration date on putting in your prepay claim?
- Is there a “redemption clause”?
- Is there an insurance policy or is the money put into a trust?
- If the prepaid funds go into purchasing an insurance policy, how long will your family need to wait before the payout is released?
- What if you change your mind? Can you get a refund? Will it be a full refund?
- Can you transfer the prepaid funeral plans to another state?
- Is there a cost to transfer the plan?
- What if the funeral home goes out of business?
- What does the funeral home do with the money you pay in advance?
- If the firm puts your money into a trust account, who gets the interest?
- What are the state-level laws that govern prepaid funeral services?
What Are the Advantages of Prepaying for Your Funeral?
One obvious advantage of paying now is that you’ll be sparing your family a considerable amount of stress and added grief. The big decision of how and where to be buried, what type of service you would want, etc. will all be taken care of.
That’s not only convenient for them, but it resolves the issue of how much money they should spend on your burial. For most families, it’s hard to make financial decisions when they’re saying goodbye to a loved one. The emotional pull can sway their decisions and they could end up spending far more than you’d like them to. For example, their grief may cause them to spend too much on things like a premium casket or a crypt burial when what you really wanted was a cremation and for your remains to be placed in a cremation niche.
The other main advantage is that you get to set your own legacy. The funeral, burial, and memorial go a long way to establishing how you will be remembered. By planning in advance and prepaying, you get to decide how your story should be told. Then you get to relax knowing it’s all taken care of.
The Next Step: Gather More Information on Burial Planning
The most important takeaway from all this is to do your homework. Find out what kinds of funerals people are having these days since the options have expanded in the last decade or so. For example, many families are honoring their loved one’s wishes and holding funeral services that reflect the tone and style of the life that was lived. Some are choosing natural burials, and cremation is becoming more popular than ever.
There are so many choices to make. Reading this is really only a start. A good next step might be to get more information on burial plans that’s up-to-date and accurate. With that in hand, you can begin thinking about talking to your spouse or other close family members about your plans.