Financing a Funeral

A subject that few of us are ever willing to face is financing a funeral. Even though we often quote Benjamin Franklin as to the certainty of death and taxes, we somehow think that if we refuse to talk about it, that death will somehow overlook us. But talking and planning for the inevitable is not only wise but prudent as well.

Leaving the actual funeral service for another article, let us restrict ourselves to merely the dollars and cents of this final expense.

Of course the biggest concern for financing a funeral is the actual amount which will be needed to be financed: What does it cost? Here is where talking with your funeral professional will provide the framework for your decision. A "real" price will be estimated as opposed to an unknown, nebulous figure of potentially terrorizing proportions. The monster of one's imagination is always more frightening than the actual monster. And so it is here. Now that we have a number, let us proceed.

Life insurance: Life insurance is to help the surviving family members after the loss of the insured. Paying off final medical bills, perhaps the mortgage on the home and establishing a lifestyle to support the bereaved should be the first consideration of these funds. Of course, many people have in mind that they can use this resource for the funeral, but be aware that might not have been the intent of the deceased.

Veteran benefits: Here is a source of means for those who have served in the U.S. military and have been discharged with other than a dishonorable discharge. That would include general or medical as well as honorable discharges. The allowance would be geared more toward the marker and possible interment at a military cemetery, which are more numerous than one might initially believe. Although Arlington comes first to mind, each state in the Union has a military cemetery available for its veterans. Some private cemeteries will have sections allotted for veteran use as well.

Supplemental insurance policies: These policies which are advertised on television are meant to help defray the cost of funerals. Such policies are available in unit purchase selections. Each unit is sold independently, and you may buy as many units as you wish. Just be aware that the price for a single unit is just that, the coverage specified in that unit. Several may be required for the funeral you have planned.

Prepaid funeral services: When a loved one is getting older and medical bills for extended hospital or nursing homes are eroding a lifetime's savings: Before being able to qualify for federal assistance such as Medicaid, all the recipient's resources must be exhausted. Fortunately, the federal law allows for the purchase of final arrangements to be excluded from this reckoning. That is, one may purchase all the necessary items for final disposition, including funeral services and related products, such as grave site, grave marker and related costs. Some funeral homes will use these funds to guarantee the price paid now will cover all expenses at the actual time of need. Others will keep track of these funds and bill any increase to the estate, depending on laws where you reside as to how such funds are to be managed. Regardless, the funeral home cannot lay claim to the funds without presentation of a certified death certificate, thereby insuring that the funds are safe and secure until needed. Please check with your funeral professional as to the exact limitations and structure of such prepaid services in your state.