No one likes to think about his or her own funeral, but it’s something everyone will need. You can let your family and friends concentrate on mourning by making your own arrangements and last wishes known ahead of time. Advance arrangements are called “pre-need funeral planning.”
Pre-need planning enables you to make such choices as whether you want a burial in the ground, entombment in a mausoleum, or a cremation. Do you prefer a formal, religious funeral or a simple memorial service? What clothing and jewelry do you want to be buried with? What music would you like to be played at your service? Maybe you want a simple graveside ceremony or your ashes scattered someplace meaningful. Preplanning also means you can decide who is in charge of the decisions you don’t make.
As a lawyer, like one from an Arlington Heights, IL estate planning law firm from an office like Bott & Associates, Ltd. knows, some pre-need arrangements include prepayment. Generally, there are two options for prepaid plans: guaranteed and un-guaranteed. If you go the guaranteed plans route, you lock in prices when you buy the plan, even if they keep rising over the years. Un-guaranteed plans mean no locked prices, but the money you put toward your arrangements grows over time through interest. The money is held by a third-party company in a trust or life insurance policy even though the prearrangement plans are made through a funeral home. As the name implies, the proceeds may or may not cover the funeral charges at the time of your death. If you’re facing a Medicaid drawdown due to nursing home costs, you can shelter some of your money with a pre-need plan purchase of either type.
Prepaying Offers Multiple Advantages
The money you’re prepaying can be used for your casket, embalming, chapel, floral arrangements, stationery, staff for services, and the basic service fee. You also can prepay cemetery expenses such as the headstone, opening and closing, and vault.
If you are the survivor of someone who has prepaid for a funeral, you’ll find out at the time of his or her death what kind of plan was purchased and what still needs to be bought. Don’t fret if the funeral home goes out of business — the prepayment is held by that third party, so it will still be there and available.
Pre-need contracts are portable, so aspects of arrangements can be changed. Plans can be canceled and money refunded. If you unexpectedly die away from home, your family may end up paying for you to be quickly cremated out of town. Your plan may still pay as much as a 90% refund, but it depends on the state. States have different laws and regulations, so keep that in mind.
It’s often a good idea to buy your burial plot or niche in a mausoleum ahead of time because land only rises in cost through the years. But know, too, that you can save money for your funeral in a savings account.
Finally, don’t keep it a secret that you’ve prepaid for arrangements. Too many times, families pay for an expensive funeral only to discover that the decedent had already preplanned and prepaid. Make things easier on your family and get the send-off you want by planning your own funeral. Funeral planning is a conversation you can have with your loved ones, laying out your wishes and knowing that it’s your last chance to say goodbye your way. And work with an attorney to make sure your financial details are properly taken care of.