Thinking ahead about your funeral
Pre-planning your own funeral is a great way to take some of the pressure off your loved ones when the time comes for them to deal with your loss. To many, pre-paying for a funeral before one is needed (pre-need) seems like a sensible idea; however, pre-paying arrangements can also be laden with difficulties, so it's important to make these types of arrangements with caution.
There are several different methods for pre-paying for your funeral. These include:
- Pre-Need Trust Agreements
- Savings and Life Insurance
- Funeral Insurance
- Funeral Pre-Paying
- POD Accounts
When you're funeral planning, you should consider basic cost management. Few people know that you can shop around for caskets and monuments to find wide variation in prices. Online resources are a great research tool. You may discover that many of the services and materials considered to be 'basic funeral costs' (e.g. vaults or seals) might not be necessary at all. Pre-planning a funeral allows you time to think rationally about funeral purchases.
Inflation affects just about everything, and funerals are no exception. Industry statistics show that the cost of a traditional funeral doubles every ten to twelve years. Therefore it's important to remember that the budget you work out while you're planning your funeral today, might not be applicable at the time of your death - especially if you're planning early for your funeral.
Unanticipated (or Unforeseeable) Charges
You also need to be aware that some costs cannot be anticipated, so give yourself a margin if you can. Sorting through unexpected costs (in addition to inflation) could actually turn a funeral into more of a burden for the bereaved than paying for a funeral in the traditional way. Some funeral homes do offer a guaranteed price plan; but, while advantageous, there may still be some costs not covered in the agreement.
Consider using an attorney to help iron out the details of a pre-need trust agreement. Clearly decide on the funeral and cemetery services you want, and then sign a contract that stipulates and fully describes those services. Allow someone else to be involved in the process so that in the event of your death everyone knows that arrangements have been made.
The Last Word
Some of the most cautious consumer advocacy groups offer this last word on pre-need: it's very advisable to pre-plan and it's inadvisable to pre-pay. There are a number of payment arrangements you can make, but the main goal in planning your own funeral is to ease the burden on your loved ones once you're gone; so make sure to avoid the pre-pay pitfalls that can cause them unnecessary stress.