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    Funeral pre-planning?

    My father is terminal. He is entering the severe stage of Alzheimer's. He could live 6 more months or 6 more years, but certainly he is fading.

    I've never thought much about pre-planning until now, but I can certainly see some benefits in terms of eliminating some stress when the day arrives. I've even seen burial plots for sale in the classified ads. I want my father buried here in our hometown, in a great location in the cemetery, so I'm wondering if I don't begin that process now so that I can find what I really want.

    Are there financial advantages to pre-planning, or is that just marketing ?
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    -George Carlin

    #2
    My wife and I went through the funeral planning for my MIL last year. I think that everyone should have plans at some level for what they want done when they pass, but in my MIL's case it was an issue of money.

    She moved in with us and sold her house in Chicago, but had too much money in the bank for Medicare/Medicaid, so we needed to spend that down. So we planned out her funeral so that we could put money from the sale of the house into a trust that is protected from medicare/medicaid and doesn't count as an asset.

    This way the family knows what's going to happen and that the money is there for the funeral.

    There is a difference though between setting up a trust and prepaying. Prepaying for a funeral usually limits you to the actual funeral you prepaid through, while a trust allows you to go practically anywhere.

    It sounds like you have a good idea about what you want for your father and my suggestion would be to go talk to the funeral home. You can actually buy burials spots at anytime, so if you're ready to make the commitment and it adds to your peace of mind, go for it. If your father's estate has money and you think he might be headed to long-term care under medicaid, then I would suggest creating an irrevocable burial trust to protect some of the money from being recouped by the government.

    Most, if not all states, still require you to actually "plan" the funeral, but your not tied to that plan when the day comes to bury your father.

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      #3
      I just found out last year that my mom pre arranged everything, I saw a gift box in her bedroom closet and I asked what it was, when she told me it was her outfit for burial it made me remember she won't be here forever and was overcome with a sense of sadness.
      retired in 2009 at the age of 39 with less than 300K total net worth

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        #4
        My parents 81 & 77 have purchased their funeral plots decades ago, I think about $3000 in Hawaii at Punchbowl cemetery which is a veteran's cemetery. They each have it narrowed down to which catering company they wish to utilize at the funeral ceremony to provide the food and drinks. God willing hopefully it will be another decade or more before these plans need to be put into action but it does make dealing with the inevitable a little easier.


        At age 51, I could kick the bucket myself before them so I too have my own action plan in this area. My successor trustee (licensed professional fiduciary) of my estate has the details of my own plan in my living revocable trust.

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          #5
          I think you need to know where you want to be buried at a minimum and it is nice to have the plot purchased already. This will help the folks that are left behind tremendously during a time of grief. It is something I've talked about with my parents for why they want to be and my wife for us.

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            #6
            Originally posted by TexasHusker View Post

            Are there financial advantages to pre-planning, or is that just marketing ?
            Financial advantages...kinda. If you pre plan/pre pay a funeral and you die 40 years later...a family member will have to make up the difference. Inflation wins again.

            The only benefit is that everything is planned out...and some of it has already been paid. Less decisions to make for an emotional family.

            So many people are against this for whatever reason but if you want to further the human race for future generations you may want to think about donating your body to science. If you qualify everything is covered expense wise...and afterwards the body is cremated. We know a family that did this with their father...they got to meet the students who had the cadaver throughout the semester. Has to be a good feeling knowing a dead corpse that would otherwise rot in the ground is being used to save future lives.

            This is the route I want to go. No viewing...no funeral...take me right to the cutting table for students to work on. Take that money that would be blown on a funeral/viewing and spend it on a nice meal with a bunch of people...celebrate my life...dont mourn it.
            Last edited by rennigade; 05-05-2017, 04:36 AM.

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              #7
              I think the main advantage of pre-planning is that you get to make decisions when you are calm and rational. The funeral industry really preys on people in the depths of despair. "Don't you want the very best for your loved one?" "Doesn't dad deserve this $20,000 casket?" "Surely grandmom would want to be surrounded by beautiful flowers."

              The time you want to make big financial decisions is not spur of the moment when your world has been turned upside down. Do it now when you have time to think about it and consider the various options and yes, shop around for the best deals.

              One thing you should NOT do in advance is buy the casket. And you should never buy it from the funeral home. There are numerous online retailers, including familiar names like Costco and WalMart that sell them online for a fraction of what the funeral homes charge. Federal law requires the homes to accept outside caskets at no additional charge so you just order online and have it shipped right to the funeral home.

              Good luck to you. I don't look forward to the day when we need to be having this conversation about my mother. I've never had to plan a funeral so I'm not speaking from experience here. When my dad died, my mom pretty much took care of everything.
              Steve

              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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                #8
                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post

                One thing you should NOT do in advance is buy the casket. And you should never buy it from the funeral home. There are numerous online retailers, including familiar names like Costco and WalMart that sell them online for a fraction of what the funeral homes charge. Federal law requires the homes to accept outside caskets at no additional charge so you just order online and have it shipped right to the funeral home.
                This sounds great on paper and you may save some money...but remember a lot of times funeral homes buy caskets from local vendors. You're supporting small local businesses (not that anyone really cares anymore.) When you buy from costco or walmart...not so much. And this is coming from someone who doesnt even want a casket and thinks the entire business of staring at dead people is odd. But people mourn in different ways...as my FIL who is a funeral director says.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by rennigade View Post
                  a lot of times funeral homes buy caskets from local vendors. You're supporting small local businesses
                  Really? I wonder how many small local business casket manufacturers there are.

                  I suppose one option if that is important to you is to order from a local vendor. I just did a quick search for NJ casket manufacturers and found numerous companies in the state selling caskets direct to consumer onilne. That would still accomplish the same thing: saving thousands of dollars on the purchase while still supporting the local company.
                  Steve

                  * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                  * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                  * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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                    #10
                    OP, Texas Husker, I would definitely at least start the process of looking into costs and options for the funeral. While still emotional the pressure of making the decisions will be far less now. And the truth is just gathering the information and thinking through it may be enough of a head start. The decisions could still be made at the time of death. I think it is very likely to cost more if decision are made in the days before the funeral.

                    I know my mother in law already has her plot that she bought next to my father in law. They share a headstone. All that is left is to put the date of death on it. They were divorced many years before his passing and never remarried. The headstone lists that they are the "Parents of" and then lists all their kids names. It's sweet.
                    My other blog is Your Organized Friend.

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                      #11
                      My mom says the real benefit is getting to decide what you want and pay for it. So before your dad TH loses all of his sense of self maybe paying and deciding what to do is the way to go. Then you'll feel reassured at what he wanted. It's not about the money.
                      LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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                        #12
                        Helped my Mom prearrange hers. It was nice to have all of those decisions and the payment out of the way when the time came. She like knowing that nobody would be burdened with this stuff.

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                          #13
                          My inlaws pre-planned and paid for all their funeral arrangements. Not sure the year this was done? But when MIL died in 2015 the funeral home had changed hands. Luckily the new owner honored what was paid in the past but they had to pay the difference on what it would cost now. Not sure if it will be the same owner when FIL goes and if this arrangement will be in place or not?

                          DH and I just want to be cremated and have a memorial service at church. We won't pre pay but will leave money and our wishes known so the kids can get it done. They can spread our ashes where ever they want we don't have a preference.

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                            #14
                            Since you have specific preferences, and assuming they align with what you know of your father's wishes, you could go ahead and buy a plot now.

                            Are you able to get information on the financial stability of the cemetery? Cemeteries have been struggling for quite some time due to the now well-established trend toward cremation (and now green burials are starting to become more popular).

                            As a word of caution, if the cemetery is tied to a particular religious faith, and that is important to you, just be aware that could change if the cemetery changes hands. The cemetery where my late father is buried went bankrupt, fell in to disrepair, was taken over by local government for use as sort of a "paupers cemetery" and was eventually converted to a Muslim cemetery. All of those changes I personally was fine with (although the time when the cemetery was in disrepair was a bit sad), but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

                            I guess what I'm trying to say is, since you know what you "really want" just be aware that once the burial happens, many changes can happen that are beyond your control and it may no longer be what you really want.

                            Are there legal options where you live where you would be more in control over what happens in the long term?

                            Good luck.
                            Last edited by scfr; 05-14-2017, 07:26 AM.

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                              #15
                              My mom has a box with a few "funeral goodies" under her bed, it's kinda creepy but she seems to talk about it so naturally...

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