The passing of a loved one is not easy to handle, and having to deal with the financial and emotional stress of a funeral doesn’t help ease the pain. Even though death is inevitable, most people prefer not to think about or plan for it.
However, planning funeral arrangements ahead of time may help you achieve peace of mind as you age. Knowing that your arrangements are already taken care of can lift the burden off your and your family's shoulders.
The consideration of a pre-need funeral arrangement is one important way for a family to prepare for the eventual day when a loved one passes, says Tracy Hineman, a funeral director at Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service.
“The death of a loved one evokes powerful emotions, which are often played out in the stress of planning the funeral," said Hineman. "One way to mitigate this scenario and to allow emotional energy to be directed to healthy, healing grief is to have a pre-need funeral arrangement in place."
In a pre-need funeral arrangement all the basics are covered, including your decisions regarding burial or cremation, the location of the service and where your final resting place will be. Whether you want a formal, traditional gathering or a light celebration with family and friends, this is your opportunity to be as creative as you’d like.
And while you’re planning the funeral of your dreams, statistics for the death certificate will be gathered so that your family won’t have to worry about forgetting Social Security numbers or your mother’s maiden name when the big day comes.
Of course, not all pre-need funeral arrangements are exactly the same. It’s important to be familiar with the different aspects of the contracts available, such as:
Guaranteed versus nonguaranteed
A guaranteed contract means that the funeral home will accept the money already paid for the goods and services preselected, although it should be noted that third-party items such as the obituary, flowers, etc., are usually not included in the guarantee. A nonguaranteed contract means the prices paid at the time of death will be according to the funeral home's current pricing.
Revocable versus irrevocable
A revocable contract usually allows the purchaser to cancel a contract at any time and withdraw the monies invested and accrued, although some penalties may apply.
An irrevocable contract may not be canceled. This type of contract is necessary for a person pursuing a Medicaid spend-down; this allocates money to pay for the funeral which will not be counted as an asset or resource when applying for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
Funded versus unfunded
Unfunded simply means that the plans have been made, both you and the funeral home have a copy of your wishes, but the family will be charged for the cost at time of death.
Funded plans, or plans that are already paid for, may be guaranteed or not guaranteed, revocable or irrevocable.
Pre-needs are generally funded either through insurance or a trust. Your funeral director must have at least a limited license to sell pre-need insurance, which can be paid in full or in installments for three, five or 10 years. Both insurance and a trust will accrue interest which, if added into the fund as it accumulates, may help to offset inflation for those items which are not guaranteed. Taxes will apply when monies are disbursed.
“Any pre-need contract written and executed in Virginia will enable the funds to be transferred to a different funeral home in Virginia,” said Hineman. “When purchasing pre-need contracts outside the state of Virginia, the portability of the funding should be questioned. Always read the fine print carefully and, if possible, have a legal consultant review it before signing.”
A pre-need funeral arrangement allows a grieving family to focus on getting through the death process instead of making financial decisions in a highly emotional state. It can help families by relieving the financial burden of final arrangements for a loved one and ensuring that their final wishes are carried out. Best of all, it brings peace of mind, which is priceless.
Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service is the oldest continuously operated business in South Richmond since 1870. Morrissett is the only funeral home in Virginia to be awarded the National Funeral Directors Association’s prestigious “Pursuit of Excellence” award each year since 2013 and is the first funeral home in central Virginia to have trained therapy dogs available on staff.