Funeral planning can be a difficult, overwhelming, and emotional process. Many individuals who are tasked with organizing a funeral become anxious regarding the decisions made during the planning process, as they hope to host a service that properly honors the deceased but feel there is no way to confirm that they’ve done so. With advance funeral planning, the individual has control over their own service. As a result, there is less anxiety from loved ones, and more time to discuss and choose which options best fit their needs. Here, the experts at Evans Funeral Home provide a guide to advance funeral planning to help determine whether it is the right fit.
Advance funeral planning allows individuals to plan their own funeral or that of a loved one prior to death. In these scenarios, the consumer is able to decide, in advance, the type of service they prefer and which elements of a funeral they want. This option eliminates ambiguity regarding their wishes for the funeral, which reduces the strain on loved ones and allows them to focus on their grief. Advance planning ensures the funeral will meet the deceased’s wishes and expectations.
Further, making arrangements in advance gives the individual the opportunity to be honored in a way they would like. Advance funeral planning offers time to better understand the process and make informed decisions about the funeral, so it makes sense that many prefer this style of planning. At Evans Funeral Home, we are here to directly assist in making advance arrangements.
Advance funeral planning also allows individuals to prepay for their service. In these cases, the individual can pay the expenses now so that their survivors are not burdened by financial costs or forced to overspend when making quick decisions. Additionally, others prefer this method as prepaying might allow individuals to avoid rising funeral costs by locking in current prices. If the individual selects pre-planning and prepaying, it’s important to understand the specifics involved.
There are two primary methods of paying for funeral pre-needs: trust-funded pre-need contracts and insurance-funded preneed contracts.
A pre-need funeral trust agreement is a financial contract with a funeral home, cemetery, or cremation service to pay for the costs of a funeral in advance. The funds paid into this account can then only be used for the purposes specified in the pre-need contract.
With insurance-funded pre-need contracts, each element for the service is decided ahead of time. Then, the funeral home partner tallies the costs, which will become the basis for the pre-need insurance plan. This total can be paid in either one installment or monthly premiums. Once the policy holder dies, the funds are used to pay the funeral home for the service.
A guaranteed pre-need contract means that the funeral home will accept the pre-need contract as payment in full for the services and items chosen before death. These contracts protect survivors from paying additional costs for funeral services and merchandise at the time of the actual service.
However, even with a guaranteed pre-need contract, there are still items that are subject to change in price which the funeral home has no control over known as cash advance items. Cash advance items are fees charged by the funeral home for goods and services bought from vendors on the individual’s behalf, such as obituary notices, death certificates, flowers, musicians, or clergy members. The price of cash advance items is affected by inflation costs and is not included in guaranteed pre-need contracts, so it’s important to prepare for those later costs.
There are also certain stipulations regarding prepaying processes that vary depending on state law. For example, in Maryland, if a consumer is pre-funding a funeral, only a licensed mortician, funeral director, or surviving spouse may prearrange funerals. Additionally, with insurance-funded pre-need contracts, each element for the service is decided ahead of time. Then, the funeral home partner tallies the costs, which will become the basis for the pre-need insurance plan. This total can be paid in either one installment or monthly premiums. Once the policy holder dies, the funds are used to pay the funeral home for the service. Be sure to research the regulations for advance funeral planning in the state where the service will take place, and consult with the funeral home team about such specifics.
Upon prepaying, the planner should receive the following:
- A general price list with the funeral director prior to any discussion regarding fees;
- A casket price list;
- An outer burial container price list, if the deceased is to be buried;
- An itemized statement and pre-need agreement;
- A signed copy of the pre-need trust contract or life insurance contract;
- A copy of the deposit slip within thirty (30) days, if establishing a pre-need trust. This money must be deposited into a FDIC insured account;
- A copy of the certificate of insurance, if using a life insurance contract. This should be sent to you (purchaser) immediately upon receipt of the approved insurance contract;
- A copy of the deposit slip each time you (purchaser) make additional deposits to your pre-need account; and
- An annual 1099 tax form
For those who choose to pursue advance funeral planning, it’s vital to find a team that will work to fit your needs. At Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services, our team is ready to guide you through the process and provide you with our expert care and extensive resources. To learn more about the help we can provide, visit our website or call one of our locations in Parkville, Monkton, or Forest Hill today.