Financing a Funeral
Planning a funeral is not what most people would envision as a fun way to spend an afternoon, especially if it is your own funeral that you are planning. However, it is a task that is best not left undone. A funeral can cost as much as a new car, and without proper planning, loved ones can be stuck with bills they cannot afford to pay.

Shop in advance
While people often buy cemetery plots in advance, it is less common to shop for other expenses before death. Grief-stricken family members are usually in no mood to shop around for the best deal and can frequently be convinced to buy more expensive products and services by smooth-talking salespeople. You may come in wanting a simple $750 pine casket but leave with a $3,000 stainless steel one with silk lining.

Shopping in advance not only allows you or relatives to make decisions in a clearheaded state, but it also gives you time to look for the best deal. Go to the funeral homes in your area, and ask for a price list. Let them know you are shopping around – they may be willing to give you a better deal. Why limit yourself to funeral homes? Many products can often be purchased for less at funeral supply stores or online. Buying everything before death is not necessary. By comparison shopping now, you or your relatives will have a better idea of where to go later.

Create a financing plan
To avoid the hassle of trying to collect later, many funeral homes and other funeral-related providers require payment before the funeral. Few people can instantaneously come up with a large sum of cash. Some, scrambling to find funds after a loved one has died, find they have no choice but to turn to high-interest financing methods, such as credit cards and personal loans. However, by planning in advance, you can use other, less costly, methods, such as:

  • Life insurance. While people usually choose a spouse or child as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you can also choose a funeral home. In general, the older you are when you first buy the policy, the higher your premiums. It is a good idea to shop around and compare policies. Who offers the lowest premiums is important, but you should also consider other factors, such as how long it takes the company to pay out its policies and its reputation.
  • A prepaid funeral plan. Because prepaid funeral plans allow you to buy goods and services at today’s prices, purchasing one well in advance could save you a nice chunk of change. However, since many consumers have had problems with prepaid funeral plans, you should be cautious if you plan to buy one. Go to at least a few funeral homes, and ask what they cover in their plans – it can vary. Check out their listings with the Better Business Bureau, and avoid purchasing from a funeral home with excessive complaints.
  • Savings. By saving regularly and starting early, you can accumulate the cash needed to pay for funeral costs, or at least a good portion of it. If you are saving for your own funeral, avoid leaving the money in a savings account solely in your name, as the probate process could delay your relatives from getting the funds until long after your funeral has passed. Setting up a joint account or trust are two ways to avoid probate.
Death is a depressing event that few of us want to think about. However, it is unavoidable. Creating a plan for dealing with funeral costs before death gives loved ones one less thing to worry about.