for a Funeral Service in Advance
Planning the funeral service
ahead of time can make things slightly easier. By getting family
members to openly talk and discuss matters ahead of time, helps to relieve
the immediate feeling of "what do we do first" when a death actually happens.
Planning ahead can:
There are various ways that
you can plan ahead.
Prevent your family members
from having to make difficult decisions at very difficult times.
Help to prevent overspending
by family members who can only guess what you might have wanted.
Let you decide for yourself
whether to be buried or cremated.
Enable you to choose the type
of casket you wish to buried in, and what other ancillary services you
CREATE YOUR OWN FUNERAL
You can simply decide upon your
wishes, document your funeral ‘plan’ and share this with family ready for
when the need arises. In addition you could ‘lay-away’ the funds
to cover your plan in an account that surviving family can access when
the need arises.
A Totten Trust, or Payable-on-Death
Account (POD), is a simple but logical approach to arranging for funeral
expenses. An account of this kind is easy and free to set up with
your local bank. How it works is that you obtain from your bank a
form for naming a POD beneficiary. You then write in the name and
return the form to the bank, which completes this very easy transaction.
It is not recommended that you name the funeral director as your beneficiary.
The beauty part of this arrangement
is that the funds do NOT have to go through probate after your death.
The funds will not be frozen unless your state and/or bank requires proof
that any state death taxes have been paid. A bank employee can provide
any further information you might need on this subject.
These days there are even
online funeral planning sites that enable you to document an outline of
your wishes. We have also provided a checklist at the bottom of this
page of things you need to consider if you are planning and documenting
your own funeral wishes. By checking around with funeral providers
you can estimate what your overall funeral expenses should be.
The important thing to remember
is that the cost of a burial or cremation is not a fixed cost, as some
time may elapse between making your plan, and the implementation of your
plan. You may need to re-visit and revise your plan in order to ensure
your needs remain the same, and the funds you have put aside still cover
PRE-NEED FUNERAL INSURANCE
Purchasing funeral insurance,
sometimes referred to as Burial insurance, is another way that you can
plan ahead. A funeral insurance plan from a reputable insurance agency
can facilitate having your death care expenses taken care of. Even
if your estate consists of life insurance, real estate property, stocks,
bonds and other investments, they are not usually immediately turned into
cash for our heirs. And if we have little or no estate to speak of,
this is all the more reason to provide some kind of insurance so that our
loved ones are not faced with the large financial burden associated with
Burial insurance can be purchased
through an insurance broker or from a funeral director who will write a
“pre-need” policy covering specific products and services you feel are
necessary. Some of these include the casket, burial vault or grave
liner, grave marker, hearse, flowers, digging and filling the grave and
the actual cemetery plot. Embalming is only required if there
is a public viewing of the deceased.
When making plans to arrange
for funeral insurance, conferring with your spouse and children is a good
idea. By doing this, not only are they made aware of your desire
to make prior arrangements but they will be able to provide helpful input.
Before making definite pre-need arrangements, it would also be beneficial
to contact your attorney to be sure your arrangements are compatible with
the instructions in your Will.
PRE-NEED PLANS FROM A
As mentioned, you can purchase
a Pre-Need policy direct from a licensed funeral home, and these funds
are usually held in trust. It is imperative to ensure that you deal
with a reputable funeral professional who has been licensed specifically
to sell Pre-Need Contracts. Do check the terms of the state statutes
affecting the sale of Pre-Need funeral contracts in your state, and ensure
your contract is transferable or can be cancelled. It is very important
to ensure you are protected should your chosen funeral home go out of business.
Check that the policy is transferable and that you are protected should
you move locale, or state. Similarly, check that there is no penalty
should you chose to cancel your policy.
It is also very important
to ensure your family have a copy of, and understand the full terms of,
your Pre-Need agreement. One of the common oversights in planning ahead
is that surviving family are not aware of the existing contract with the
funeral home, and can have already arranged the funeral services before
this comes to light.
Since each state has its
own laws on funeral insurance and Pre-need policies, it is important to
find out the law in your specific state. Take a friend or relative
with you to help you with your decisions and be sure to verify that the
individual or company from whom you are purchasing the insurance is licensed.
It is also important to find out, in case you move to another state, that
the arrangements you pay for can be moved to another funeral home at any
time. In addition, be sure there are no blank spaces left in your
contract that might be filled in later without your knowledge or consent.
To find out more about the
state statutes governing pre-need agreements in your state, visit our ‘State
Guide to Funeral Laws’.
PLANNING AHEAD FOR A VETERAN’S
A free burial at a national
cemetery is available to all United States veterans and some civilians
who have worked for either the military or the US Public Health Service
and their spouses. Expenses covered include a grave liner, grave
marker and grave digger’s fees to open and close the cemetery plot.
However, no fees to the funeral home or mortuary are included.
PLANNING AHEAD - DEATH
Some unions provide death benefits,
as do some social groups. The Railroad Retirement Board offers its
members funds for use toward funeral expenses.
The Social Security Administration
does allow the sum of $255 in a lump-sum payment that can be used toward
funeral expenses. This money is available to children of the deceased
or to his or her spouse. It can, however, be an extensively bureaucratic
process to access this fund.
PLANNING AHEAD CHECKLIST
Questions to consider when
Have you decided
which Funeral Home you wish to handle your funeral?
Answering these questions
will enable you to create a basic outline for your funeral plans and estimate
the funeral costs.
Do you have a will?
If so, where is it kept? Who is the Executor?
Do you want a Cremation or
What kind of casket and/or
urn do you want?
Do you have a cemetery plot
or columbarium for your interment? If you already own cemetery property,
where is the deed kept?
If opting for cremation,
do you want your ashes scattering or interring?
Do you require a funeral
service? And if so, what kind of service?
Do you require a Clergy or
celebrant to preside over the service?
What funeral transport do
you require? How many cars and cortège?
Would you like to specify
the Music for the service?
Would you like a visitation
prior to cremation or burial?
Do you desire an Open or
Do you wish to specify what
kind of Clothing or attire funeral guests should wear?
Do you wish an Obituary to
be published, and if so, what kind of Obituary? Do you want it featured
in the local press and/or online?
Do you wish to specify pallbearers?
Do you want funeral flowers
or Memorial contributions?
For a veteran – veteran options,
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Last Revised: 02/01/2014