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How To Arrange Your Prepaid Funeral

by Caitlin Obara

While few people enjoy contemplating their mortality, death is universal. Proactively planning for your funeral yourself can be a comfort to the loved ones you leave behind, eliminating the need for difficult decisions after your demise. Here's what you need to know about prepaying (and pre-planning) for your final arrangements.

Prepaid Funeral Basics

Funerals aren't cheap. A basic service can easily exceed $7000 and more elaborate services run $10000 or more. This amount typically doesn't include grave monuments (which can be provided by a company such as Maurice Moore Memorials), which can average another $1500-$2000 depending on the size and material you select.

A cremation is significantly cheaper, averaging between $2000-$4000 but that's still a heavy price for your unprepared family to pay.

Most funeral homes will allow you to prepay for your final expenses, whether all at once or in installments. This ensures that your family won't incur any out-of-pocket costs. The money you pay to the funeral home is generally held in an interest-earning trust fund until your death. Alternatively, they may choose to take out a life insurance policy in your name with the funeral home as the beneficiary.

You can buy your monument ahead of time, although you'll need to have somewhere to store it until it's needed. Keep in mind that your family will need to pay to have the death date inscribed on the headstone. There may also be a cost to have the monument placed.

Guaranteed vs. Non-Guaranteed Funerals

Your funeral home may offer one of two prepayment options. With a guaranteed funeral, you lock yourself into the price. Any future price increases won't affect your arrangements and your family won't be held responsible for extra fees after your death.

A non-guaranteed funeral ensures that you'll have the goods and services you paid for in advance but your family will be charged the going rate at the time of your death. If you haven't left enough to cover the whole cost, your estate will need to make up the difference.

Be sure to get everything in writing and save your receipts. Put all of your paperwork in a central location where it will be easy to find after your death.   

How to Make Your Wishes Known

Spend a bit of time envisioning what you want your funeral services to look like. If you'd like a specific song played or a religious passage read, write it down. It may also be helpful to your family to have a list of names and phone numbers of people you'd like at your service.

While you may not want to discuss your wishes with your family beforehand, be sure someone knows that you've left a directive for your funeral and where it can be found.

Pre-planning your funeral will ease some of your family's stress during a difficult time; prepaying for it will give you peace of mind by ensuring your loved ones aren't left with a heavy financial burden.