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Planning Ahead: How to Prepare for Your Final Expenses

The best way to make sure your wishes are carried out is to plan ahead. There are several benefits if you plan your funeral expenses in advance. When you plan your funeral in advance, it is called “pre-need” planning.

Planning ahead allows you to make decisions for yourself. It allows personal choices and services to be just as you would like them.

You relieve your loved ones of having to make difficult decisions at a time when they are emotional. They may end up doing too much or too little.

If you don’t have any close relatives, it allows you to provide instructions to the funeral home as to how your arrangements are to be handled.


Here are some decisions you will need to make

  • Do you want a traditional funeral, graveside service, memorial service or cremation?

  • Which funeral home do you want to use?

  • Which cemetery do you want to use?

  • What type of casket do you want?

  • What type of vault do you want?

  • What kind of marker do you want for the grave?

  • How will you pay for your selections?

  • Who will be in charge of the funeral?

  • Which church do you want to use?

  • Who will be in charge of the funeral program?

  • What should be done if any money is left over?

Information you will need to provide

  • Where were you born?

  • What was your father's name?

  • What was your mother's maiden name?

  • If you are a widow, or a widower what is your spouse's name?

  • If you are a veteran, do you have a copy of your discharge papers?

Depending on how you pre-pay for your funeral, your money can be protected and used only on your funeral. Also, certain plans can keep up with inflation and your funeral costs (not the cemetery costs) can be locked-in, in a way that you do not have to add to it later.

There are at least four ways to provide funds for your funeral ahead of time

  • Insurance policy

  • Trust account at a bank

  • Pre Need insurance policy

  • Certificate of Deposit - Payable upon death

Insurance policy

Your beneficiary must agree to use the policy for your funeral and not keep the proceeds.

The funeral home needs to know who the beneficiary is. If the insurance policy will not cover all the costs, you may want to place additional funds in trust in a bank account to cover any shortfall.

Trust account at a bank

Once you have estimated the cost of the funeral, you would place funds in an interest
bearing account at a bank. 
Banks pay interest on your funds, but the interest is at a low rate that usually does not keep pace with inflation. The interest earned is taxable to you.

Pre-need insurance policy

Can be entirely pre-funded, or pay a monthly premium based on your age. Premiums are usually paid over 3, 5, or 10 years and are invested at higher rates than a savings account. When using this method, the cost of the funeral and merchandise will vary over time but the earnings under this plan do better keeping pace with inflation than a savings account or certificate of deposit.

Certificate of Deposit - payable upon death

Funds are on deposit at a bank in the form of a C.D. The Bank usually has instructions that the C.D. is only to be paid out upon death. The Bank will need to know who the C.D. is to be paid to. C.D.’s earn better rates of interest than savings accounts.

Other important things to consider

If you own property or have a little money set aside, you should make out a will.

If you have a bank account, a second name needs to be on the account in case you want funds to be accessible after your death.

Do you have enough insurance to cover all your burial expenses? If not, have you thought about how the balance will be handled? If you are over 80 years old, you may not be able to get insurance.

If you are not insurable, set aside funds in a bank account each month toward your funeral to help cover the cost.

If you have no close relatives, make sure you contact a funeral home to discuss how you would like your funeral handled.

More Information

Your information is confidential. It can only be released to those you have given the funeral home permission to release information to. If you see that you are outliving everyone who would be in charge of your funeral, make sure you have contacted the funeral home of your choice and plan your final arrangements.

Every five to seven years, you will need to update your arrangements. The funeral home can assist you in this and make sure you are still comfortable with the plans you have made.

You can even plan out your program and order of service. Select the poems and scripture verses you would like used at your service. Outline what you would like said about you in your obituary.

Final Appearance

Your instructions should include details about what color clothes you prefer, how much make-up, if any, should be used and how your hair should be styled. Typically men will be shaved and their hair trimmed.  Women should consider what jewelry will be worn. If you wear glasses, do you want them on.

For further information

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