The Proper Way to Pre-Purchase Goods and Services from a Funeral Home

Making funeral arrangements for yourself is a way to take some of the logistical and financial stresses off of your family and friends after your death, and ensure that you get the kind of funeral you want. A key part of making funeral arrangements is deciding what kind of products (such as a casket) and services (such as a wake) you want, and potentially paying in advance for any these things.

By pre-planning some or all arrangements, you will leave your survivors with fewer difficult choices to make and expensive bills to pay. In order to make pre-plans, you'll need to work with a funeral home, which can help you make the arrangements and purchases you'd like.

Arrangements generally include:

  • Choosing and/or purchasing products, such as a casket or urn
  • Choosing and/or purchasing services, such as holding a viewing or visitation before the funeral service, or embalming and cosmetic preparations
  • Making arrangements to pay for the goods and services you’re purchasing

If you are planning on pre-paying for your funeral, it’s a good idea to get a sense of exactly what you’re paying for, as well as your payment options. There are generally a number of ways that funeral homes guarantee the goods and services they’re selling, as well as a variety of ways that you can pay for these purchases.

Are the products you're pre-purchasing guaranteed?

If you will be pre-purchasing goods and services from a funeral home, you’ll want to know whether the goods and services are “guaranteed” or “not guaranteed.” If the goods and services are guaranteed, you and your family should not be charged any additional fees at the time of the funeral, even if the prices of certain items have increased since they were originally purchased. If the items are not guaranteed, your survivors may have to pay any difference in price.

Will you be paying for the products you're pre-purchasing with an installment plan?

If you will be paying for goods and services with an installment plan, it’s a good idea to find out if that payment method will affect the guarantee, or any other features of the agreement.

Defining “equal value” when pre-purchasing goods and services

Additionally, many funeral homes will state that in the event that the exact goods and services purchased are not available at the time of the funeral, goods and services of equal value will be provided. It may be a good idea to work out an agreed-upon definition of “equal value” so that you can be sure you’ll actually be receiving the goods and services that you want and that you paid for.

Understanding the terms of the pre-purchasing agreement

In addition to understanding the specific agreement regarding the goods and services, you should also have a solid understanding of the terms of the agreement in general. According to the terms of the agreement, what happens if you move cities and want to change funeral homes? What happens if you change your mind about the arrangements you’ve made? If you've only paid for a portion of the arrangements before you you die, how will the rest of the arrangements be paid for? There are many questions that should be asked and understood when making a purchase of this importance.

How to pre-pay for goods and services from a funeral home

There are a number of ways to pre-pay for funeral arrangements from a funeral home. The most common methods of pre-payment are:

Paying with either a trust or a funeral insurance policy are the ways that most funeral homes prefer customers to pay in advance. With both of these options you can pay for your arrangements over time, and when the time comes the money in the trust or the insurance policy will go to the funeral home and fund the arrangements you've made. In both of these cases, the funeral home will control the money from the trust or insurance policy after you die.

Communicating with your family about pre-plans you're making

Whatever arrangements you choose to make with a funeral home, the most important thing is to communicate your wishes to your family and close friends. That way, your survivors will know what you wanted, and you will feel peace of mind knowing that your wishes are understood.

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