Many of us have worked hard to make our lives comfortable and stress-free. It is often difficult to consider end of life arrangements, especially when it seems so far away. However, at some point it becomes a necessary conversation. With the cost of funerals constantly rising, prepaid funerals are emerging as a viable cost-saving option many families are now considering.
Whether you are considering a prepaid funeral plan or not, it is worth the discussion with your family. Though it may make some family members uncomfortable, it does offer a unique insight to what everyone needs or expects in those “just in case” moments. Often times, it brings a family together and clarifies final wishes that otherwise may be left unstated. Consider that just as you plan life events, the end of life event is an investment that needs attention as well.
Like all investments, prepaid funeral arrangement options should be carefully considered. There are many contract choices that vary significantly from one to the other. Whether specific aspects are the focus, or the complete arrangements are made, there are several pros and cons to consider before committing to a complete investment in a prepaid funeral contract. Once you understand the pros and cons, you will find it isn’t such a difficult topic.
Advantages of a Prepaid Funeral
The number one advantage of a prepaid funeral is the stress it alleviates during the grieving process. It assures the family that your final wishes are carried out and paid for. This option can be comforting during a difficult time and makes sure all your final wishes are honored. The plan offers detailed instructions on budgets, services and specific arrangements at a time when your family may not be prepared to see to these details.
By preplanning your funeral, you have many options. There are plans that allow choices for the casket, urn, burial plot, headstone, facilities, clergy, or alternative services and elements. It allows you peace of mind, knowing that you will have a final say on everything from flower arrangements to the final resting place. In many cases, several options will be available for you to choose from or you may arrange for a unique set of circumstances more fitting your specific needs.
Another major advantage of a prepaid funeral is the cost. Many contracts are paid in advance, locking in the cost of the memorial and funeral of your choice. These plans arrange a specific budget and allowance for certain aspects of your service. This benefit is highly attractive, as inflation or funeral price increases will not be a factor. If money is left over, you can arrange for family members to benefit, or you might decide to donate it to a favorite charity.
For many, a prepaid funeral arrangement is considered a gift to loved ones. Having a complete and paid for funeral leaves one less thing a family must worry over. For seniors, this can alleviate issues that would otherwise cause them stress or anxiety. Senior plans often carry some coverage and it may be worth adding to those benefits.
Disadvantages of a Prepaid Funeral
One of the disadvantages of a prepaid funeral plan involves contracts that do not live up to expectations. It is imperative that you discuss the contract with a professional and understand it completely to avoid issues that will cost your beneficiaries. Some issues and costs arise when an interest bearing account doesn’t meet maturity, or when payment instalments were not completed before the need arrives.
Some plans require a certain number of years to pass before it covers all expenses. Many of these contracts are actually investment accounts that must mature before it becomes available. These plans often promise to defer costs based on interest or capital gains. These are risky plans that may fall through if markets crash.
Another issue to consider is whether you are locked into a specific funeral home or area. There are plans that require a specific funeral home or cemetery to be used to honor the agreement. If either is no longer in business, or the family has relocated, the plan is no longer valid or does not cover all the expenses. This can burden the family with expenses or causes confusion, and may lead aspects of your final wishes to be overlooked.
Be aware of prepaid funeral plans that do not allow transfers or allow for you to change specific requests. Even if you are the owner of the contract, some plans may not allow you to make additional arrangements or transfer the account to a loved one that passes unexpectedly before you. A contract that allows you to transfer benefits or make additional arrangements is more beneficial than an exclusive contract without some flexibility.
Contemplating end of life arrangements is a difficult task for everyone and probably the furthest thing from your mind. Yet, it is an important issue that cannot be overlooked. Careful planning, research and decision-making can lend a lot of comfort to all involved. Understanding the options and expectations can be a huge comfort, and that is what it is designed to do.
Since it is important that everyone in your life understand your final wishes, a prepaid funeral arrangement allows you to make your wishes known and allows you the opportunity to consider the wishes of your family. It opens dialog to discuss concerns, uncertainties, or issues you may otherwise have given little thought. Preplanning your funeral does not have to be a depressing and bothersome issue. Many families find it very comforting to know that they have discussed the topic and gained complete understanding of their loved ones wishes.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering a prepaid funeral arrangement is to shop around for the contract that suits your needs and final wishes. Discussing the contract with a professional will minimize confusion or misunderstanding. Read the fine print. Do not be afraid to seek legal counsel to thoroughly examine the prepaid funeral plan you are considering. With a little research and consideration, the comfort you earned throughout life will carry through and benefit those you love when they need it the most.
Updated: March 28, 2014