One of the things that keep me up some nights is worrying about what comes next. Beyond the metaphysical question of it all, I also worry about those I’m leaving behind. Having witnessed it firsthand, it can be a huge financial burden on your loved ones. While death and funerals aren’t favorite topics of conversation, there is no avoiding it. Death is the great equalizer and comes for us all in the end. Therefore, I’m trying to arrange things ahead of time and prepare for future funeral expenses, leaving no questions or obligations behind.
Why You Should Prepare for Future Funeral Expenses
Coming from a large family, death is a fairly common thing. I attended my first funeral when I was about 5, and we have laid many grandparents, aunts, and uncles to rest over the years. We view it as a celebration of life, sharing stories and comforting each other through the loss. Unfortunately, complications with finances can taint the services and make the grieving process so much worse.
Although some relatives planned better than others for funeral expenses and burial costs, they all had one thing in common: they were expensive. Today, the average funeral cost is about $8,000. This figure continues to rise as you add to the services or if the deceased has specific requirements for the funeral.
The burden of carrying out your wishes will fall to the person you name as executor of your will. This can be a heavy burden and a huge financial burden if you haven’t taken any steps to prepare for it. Even if you allocate funds from your accounts or estate, it could take months or even years to access the funds.
So, making arrangements to prepare for future funeral costs is a final gift I’m going to leave them. I’ll rest at peace knowing they won’t have the added stress of worrying about how to pay for it all.
5 Ways You Can Prepare for Future Funeral Costs
1. Pay for your own funeral arrangement.
Ideally, I’d like to lift the burden from their shoulders completely by planning the funeral myself. My goal is to have everything paid in full.
Although some think it is macabre, it ensures that not only can I save for it now, but I can include all the details I’d like for my arrangements. From the casket and service to the outfit and music, you can plan every detail. And, your loved ones won’t have to guess about what you would have wanted since you can tell them. I know I’ll rest easier knowing that I’m not leaving a financial mess behind.
2. Prepay for funeral services.
Prepaid funeral plans are a popular option for those who still want to make arrangements ahead of time, but have trouble with the details. You can choose a local mortuary to work with, and they will step in to help your family attend to things when you pass.
And when you prepay, you can lock in the current rates. This protects you against rising costs of inflation and land shortages which will drive the price up. However, they don’t usually offer refunds if you change your plans or move out of state. And if they go out of business, there’s no recourse to get your money back.
If you are considering this route, compare plans to determine what’s best for you. Be clear on the terms and fine print, and ask about refunds and cancellation policy. When you spend this much, make sure you know exactly where your money is going.
3. Purchase funeral insurance.
Although life insurance in intended to support your family after death, you can purchase funeral insurance to prepare for your future burial and funeral costs. Funeral insurance functions like many other plans, but with one key difference: you need to estimate your final expenses to determine which policy to purchase.
The funeral expenses will be the largest cost. But, there are other bills to consider such as healthcare, legal fees, and any outstanding debts. The most common plans include burial insurance, funeral insurance, and final expense insurance which range from $25k to $40k.
4. Set up a dedicated funeral fund.
If you know that it will be difficult to pay for your final expenses, you can set up an account and start funding it now. There are traditional savings accounts, or a Totten trust which offers better interest rates and pay the designated beneficiary who the trust will pay on death (POD). Rather than having to wait to access your accounts once your affairs are settled, the beneficiary can receive the funds by presenting your death certificate.
This is a good option for low-income earners or people who have no other way to prepare for future funeral costs. Even if you don’t save enough to cover all your final expenses, everything helps. And, if you start planning while you’re still here, you can use the compounding interest to your advantage. The sooner you open the account, the more interest it will earn.
5. See if you qualify for burial benefits.
Finally, I would check membership benefits to see which accounts or affiliations may offer assistance with burial costs. For example, my credit union offers $1,000 towards my final expenses just for being a member.
Veterans are also entitled to certain arrangements as well. They can be buried in the national cemetery with no cost for the site or marker. However, you’ll need to find out if they are eligible since space is limited. But, the VA offers other benefits as well to lessen the financial impact.
When the Final Bell Tolls
The bills never seem to stop, even in death. However, before your final bell is rung, you can ease the pain for your loved ones and prepare for future funeral expenses. Death and debt are heavy enough burdens on their own. So, I plan to do what I can now to ensure it brings us all some peace in the end.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.