No Bones About It: Prepaid Funeral Arrangements are Alive and Well

October 30, 2019

With Halloween upon us, many people avoid the ghosts, goblins and graveyards that scare the dickens out of us. But embracing the graveyard may not be such a bad idea. Planning your memorial service ahead of time brings personalized comfort to you, as well as your family and close friends. Other than the sheer sense of empowerment that comes from facing our own mortality, there are quite a few financial and legal benefits that come with pre planning your funeral.

A prepaid funeral is simply making funeral arrangements before you – or a loved one – passes away. For nay-sayers that offer many foolish reasons to avoid planning your own funeral, we are one step ahead of you. Here are the top three foolish reasons to avoid making funeral plans while you are alive:

Foolish Reason # 1 – I don’t care what happens to me when I’m dead.

You may not care, but your family will have to. When a person dies without funeral plans, someone in the family decides what kind of funeral to have and where you’ll be buried, or your ashes strewn. And when there’s a death in the family, decisions tend to be colored by grief, not governed by reason. Family squabbles may occur if there are loved ones that disagree about where your final resting place should be. How sure are you that your spouse, your children, stepchildren, siblings, parents, etc. will all agree on the many decisions that will need to be made? If you come from a big family or a blended family, most likely there will be some dissent.

Foolish Reason # 2 – I don’t want to think about it.

Of course you don’t! No one wants to think about his/her death. But have you ever purchased automobile insurance? Homeowner’s insurance? Life insurance? Arranging your funeral, like purchasing life insurance, is one more provision you can make for a time when your family must go on without you.

Foolish Reason # 3 – I can’t afford it now

A funeral purchased when a death in the family occurs usually must be paid in full before interment. That often makes a huge dent in a family’s budget, especially in cases of an unexpected death. When you purchase your funeral before there is a crisis, you may choose from a variety of payment plans that meet your budget.

Now that you know the top three reasons to put off planning your funeral, here are the top three reasons that prepaid funerals are all the rage.

Intelligent Reason # 1 – Your family will not have to deal with both a heavy emotional and financial burden while grieving.

Only by prearranging (prepaying for your services) are you able to take care of the actual expense of the funeral or cremation service ahead of time. Prearranging significantly lowers the cost of the products and services that will be used during your service and for your final resting place. You benefit from selecting today’s prices, free from future inflationary pressures. Essentially you are able to purchase tomorrow’s funeral at today’s price.

Intelligent Reason # 2 – Understanding that writing your funeral wishes in your Last Will and Testament is simply not enough.

Writing your burial or cremation request in your Will simply leaves instructions for how you would like your remains to be handled. That’s too vague. Having a prearranged plan accompanying your Will spells out exactly where your body or ashes shall be placed and lets your family know that these arrangements have already been planned and paid for.

Intelligent Reason # 3 – If you plan to apply for Medicaid assistance, you can purchase pre-need funeral arrangements, and this will not be counted as an asset for Medicaid purposes.

What does that mean exactly? In Florida, Medicaid’s asset limits are $2,000 for an individual applicant, and $3,000 for married couples applying together. In order to qualify for Medicaid in Florida, you must be under this asset limit. Prearranged funeral agreements can help lower your countable assets. 

As long as the contract is made Irrevocable and the Medicaid applicant is unable to cancel the agreement or get a refund on the purchase, it will not be counted as an asset by Medicaid. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be spent on funeral arrangements and the contract can include the cost for items such as the casket, floral arrangements, use of the chapel, transportation to and from the service to the cemetery or crematory, and other goods and services offered by the funeral home. This is a great way to ensure that the end of life arrangements are taken care of according to your wishes as well as a means to spend down a considerable amount of money for Medicaid purposes.

Aside from the pre-need funeral contract, Medicaid also recognizes that there may be additional costs that arise upon one’s death that were not pre-paid for or included in the funeral contract. Because of these unforeseen expenses Medicaid will allow the applicant to set aside up to $2,500 in a funeral fund.

If you don’t want to leave your loved ones with a heavy heart and a hefty funeral bill, it’s a wise idea to discuss funeral plans in advance. Contact OC Estate and Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or to learn how prearranging can help you control your wealth from beyond the grave.