Can I Pay for a Funeral in Advance?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 04, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Can I pay for a funeral in advance?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You can, but it may not be a good idea.

Although there are a number of legal controls on how the funeral industry can handle and invest funds marked for future services, there are still reported abuses of mismanaged and stolen "preneed" or "prearrangement" accounts. And it's suspected that many more problems go unreported by survivors too grief stricken or embarrassed to complain about them.

If you're interested in prepaying for final arrangements, be sure the contract you sign has safeguards against some common pitfalls:

  • No business-closure contingency. When mortuaries go out of business or change hands, some people who have prepaid have been left without funds and without recourse.

  • Location-specific payment. Some individuals who have prepaid for services in one state and then have moved to a new locale have found that their funds are nonrefundable, or that there is a hefty penalty for withdrawing or transferring them.

  • Inflation. Like most consumer goods and services, funeral costs generally increase over time, which can mean that survivors are left to cover the gap between the prepaid amount and the substantially inflated current costs.

As a simple alternative to entering a prepayment commitment, consider setting up a Totten trust -- a trust or savings account earmarked as payment for your final arrangements. Most banks or savings institutions will do this for a slight, one-time charge. During your lifetime, you can easily add to, transfer, or withdraw from the account as you see fit.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

However, if one does decide to pay for a funeral in advance, there are multiple advantages.

In Colorado, when pre-arrangements are made, the costs are frozen at time of payment. This means that all services, excluding cash advances or non-guaranteed items, are locked in and survivors will not have to worry about inflation.
Today, most mortuaries put the preneed funds into a life insurance policy specific for funeral homes. This makes it easier for the consumer to transfer the policy when changing locations. Some penalties may or may not occur depending on time of transfer.

Making pre-arrangements provides peace of mind for yourself and your family. Having your wishes in order is a gift!

Ginger116 answered...

I live in Texas and pre-arrangement funeral plans include coverage for the cost of inflation. My children all live in Missouri and I didn't want them to be responsible for my funeral costs. Another big advantage to me, was being able to fill out the workbook, which covers the music I want to be played at my funeral, and to be sure my wishes were granted, including my desire to be cremated. The funeral home that I purchased my pre-arranged funeral costs, later went out of business. I contacted another local funeral home where I live and they informed me they would definitely honor the policy.

This has certainly given me a sense of peace, knowing my final arrangements are taken care of. Depending where you live and knowing the individual state laws, might enable this wonderful option to be available to you.

Ladyvictoria answered...

I have been through a pre-paid pre-need scenario where the funeral home went out of business. There was no insurance policy as others have discussed when they answer your question. I was able to have a funeral because of the undertakers' community standing together to honor the pre-need arrangement and then the funeral home that had the funeral went after the pre-paid mortician's son who was the cause of the funeral home's demise. But, the funeral ended up happening in a Catholic funeral home instead of the Lutheran funeral home as was planned. Many elders in my family were upset about this.

Knowing better, I am now saving funds in the bank for 3 other family members' funeral and will have more modest funerals for these family members.

After I made the pre-need arrangement, but before the funeral home went out of business, I had another funeral at that funeral home that was less expensive that the pre-paid one and it was the same quality because I was more learned and asked questions and was able to get the quality and things I wanted and not just have things suggested to me without enough choices being made available to me.

Also, the funeral director in this same funeral home that went out of business told me it was a "law" in Pennsylvania that a vault had be built in the grave. I have since learned that it was the cemetary's rule, not a state law or local ordinance. My other family members will most likely not be buried in this cemetary.

Dignitymemorialnc answered...

While there are many good reasons to pre plan your own funeral, such as saving your loved ones from making difficult and potentially costly decisions in their time of most profound grief, many folks are still reluctant to begin the process. One question a lot of people in the High Point area often ask is regarding transferability. What if one were to move? Would their pre arranged funeral be transferable to another location?

Rest assured that when it comes to pre arranging a funeral, simplicity is the name of the game. We're committed to making the pre arrangement process as easy on you as it can be, and this includes the option to transfer your arrangements should you move or relocate. There are no limitations or penalties "“ after all, we're here to help you and your loved ones at this most trying of times. Furthermore, with Dignity Memorial funeral homes throughout North America, you likely won't even have to change providers, no matter where you relocate.

If you have any additional questions, or simply require more information, please feel free to contact us: We're always available to answer any questions you might have.

  • Dignity Memorial NC

Pinig answered...

The answer to this question by DignityMemorialNC is no more than a advertisement for the worlds largest funeral service conglomerate. While the answer is true, there are things going unsaid that would qualify as a trap, of which the article is trying to help people avoid.