Funeral Planning Ahead of Time

also called Preneed, Prearrangements or Preplanning

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There’s a lot of information out there about this – some good, some bad – so this page is meant to give you accurate and practical information. We’ll tell you when it’s a good idea and when it’s not. And how to do it so you get the funeral you want. 

Today, many funeral homes offer you the choice of meeting with a funeral director (at the funeral home or in your home) or doing it on their website by filling out a form. The arrangements will include you giving the following information:

  • type of service you want – visiting hours, service and place of service, who will speak at the service, music choices, readings
  • casket selection, urn selection if cremation is desired
  • burial vault if required by cemetery
  • military honors
  • place of burial
  • flower selection

Details to Include

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There are other things you may want to include. It's best to have these documented with the funeral director and give a copy to the family member or person who will be finalizing the arrangements at the of death. As much as you think your wishes are known to your family, you need to ensure that everything is documented with the funeral home. Unfortunately, family dynamics sometimes change, and there are heartbreaking stories all over about family members disagreeing about a parent's final wishes. Even the internet has lots of them.

Remember, too, that if you think everything's covered in your will, it's usually days or even weeks before a will is read. As your attorney about at least giving a copy of the section about your final wishes to your funeral director. And let your family know that the funeral director has them and which one. A story is told of a family who had their dad's services and a week later when the will was read, discovered that their father wanted a different funeral home than the one they chose!


Here are the other items:

  • clothing you want to be dressed in, whether you’re being buried or cremated
  • other wishes for people who speak, such as people who will read Scripture or poems, who will give a eulogy or whether you want those present if anyone wants to share a memory
  • who will serve as pallbearers
  • if there is a service done by a group you belong to, such as Masons, police or firefighter associations or others

Paying for Future Services

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The funeral home will give you the option to pay for the services you desire. There are varying opinions on whether you should do this or not. The times when it makes sense for you to prepay are these:

  • you’re going to be in a nursing home or other facility and you have limited funds and will be applying for Medicaid. This will allow you to pay for your own funeral services before any money or assets you have are used to pay for your nursing home care. 
  • you want to ensure that your family doesn’t have to pay 
  • most funeral homes give a guarantee against inflation. They give a guarantee that if you prepay in full, they will not ask for additional funds at the time of death. In this case, the interest that the prepaid money earns, is used to pay any difference in price increases. Some funeral homes will even refund any excess if the interest accrued is more than the amount of their price increase.


There are instances when people shouldn’t prepay. Some people have investments that are earning more interest than the institution where your prepaid funds are deposited. Ask the funeral director about the current interest rate for where the money will be deposited.

Other Legal Stuff

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Funeral directors are required by federal law to deposit any prepaid funeral money into an account in the name of the person the arrangements are for. This account can be at a local bank, an annuity with an insurance company or an annuity with the state funeral directors association.


The funeral home is required to give you a copy of any of the financial information, and it has to include not just the price itemization and amount you paid, but also the name of the institution where it is deposited, their address and their phone number.


It’s also a federal law that the money you paid can be moved to a different funeral home in the event that you move, the funeral home goes out of business or is sold, or you decide you want to use a different funeral home.