You would undoubtedly prefer to spare your loved ones from additional stress and worry following your own death. Unfortunately, there is no way to shield your loved ones from the emotional impact of your passing; however, you can spare them most of the stress and anxiety associated with planning and funding your funeral and burial by planning everything yourself within your estate plan. If you do decide to add a funeral planning component to your estate plan, you may consider a pre-paid funeral plan with a local funeral home. The Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft explain why a pre-paid funeral plan might not be a wise choice.
Funeral Planning Basics
Heightened emotions are common following the death of a loved one. It is easy to see how conflicts frequently occur when important decisions must be made just days, or even hours, after losing a loved one. Dealing with your emotions is difficult enough without adding in the additional stress and anxiety of having to plan the funeral and burial services which may entail things such as:
- Arranging for the disposition of the body.
- Choosing products such as the casket or urn.
- Deciding whether to have an open or closed casket.
- Decisions relating to the service.
- Choosing an officiant.
- Making logistical decisions.
Along with the emotional impact your death will have on your loved ones, they will have to pay for your burial and funeral if you did not already do so. As of 2022, the average cost of a basic funeral is well over $10,000. Extras, such as flowers and music, can drive the cost of a funeral much higher. Grieving survivors often end up spending even more than is truly necessary if they are forced to make decisions just days after suffering a loss.
Is a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan the Answer?
No one wants their loved ones to be faced with more stress and anxiety than is inevitable following a death. Pre-planning your own funeral and burial is undoubtedly the best way to limit that stress and anxiety; however, signing a pre-paid funeral contract may not be the best way to do that for several reasons, including:
- Changes are difficult, if not impossible, to make. Pre-paid funeral contracts lock everything in as of the date you execute the contract. Pre-paying at today’s prices is the incentive offered in these contracts; however, you are also locking in all the details of your funeral. If you decide you want something different, such as to be cremated instead of buried or to be buried next to a new spouse because you remarried, you probably cannot modify the terms.
- You cannot know with certainty where you will be living. You may plan to remain where you are, but you simply never know. A late in life love and remarriage, grandchildren, or even health issues could all cause you to move to another city or state, making your funeral plan worthless.
- Disputes cannot be litigated. Unlike most contract disputes, litigating a dispute over a pre-paid funeral contract isn’t a viable option because there is a very small window of opportunity for the contract to be fulfilled – and the family and loved ones need it to work flawlessly or it is really of little use.
Talk to your elder law or estate planning attorney about creating a funeral trust instead of purchasing a pre-paid funeral plan. A funeral trust allows you to fund your funeral, choose someone to oversee the funeral and service, and lets you make legally binding decisions about how your body will be handled and even decide details of the service to ensure that your wishes will be honored.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns related to funeral planning, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.