Thinking about your own funeral may not be something you want to do; however, it may be something you need to do, both for your sake and for the sake of your loved ones. When you do take the time to contemplate your funeral and burial, purchasing a pre-paid funeral contract may sound like an easy solution to an uncomfortable task. An Indianapolis estate planning attorney at Frank & Kraft explains why a pre-paid funeral contract may not be the right option for you.
Do I Need to Contemplate My Own Funeral?
There are two very good reasons why you should include funeral planning in your comprehensive estate plan. First, if you do not make your wishes with regard to your funeral and burial clear and legally binding prior to your death, there is absolutely no guarantee that those wishes will be honored after you are gone. You may have expressed your wishes with regard to funeral and burial plans to a loved one; however, other family members may feel they know what you would want. Ultimately, loved ones could end up in a contentious battle over the details of your funeral that could cause a rift in the family for many years to come.
Second, without a plan in place, your loved ones will likely go through considerably more stress and spend considerably more money than they should. As of 2021, the average cost of a basic funeral is well over $10,000 – and that price only include the basics. If you failed to plan ahead, your loved ones may end up paying considerably more than they should because of their fragile emotional state. It is all too easy for funeral home employees to talk a grieving spouse, child, or loved one into more than what they really need. Moreover, in the absence of concrete guidance from you, the chance of confusion or conflict increases dramatically.
Reasons Why a Pre-Paid Funeral Contract May Not Be the Best Solution
Once you have decided that funeral planning is important, the next step is to decide how best to handle the details. Purchasing a pre-paid funeral contract may sound, at first, like an ideal solution; however, there are several important reasons why it may not be the best option, such as:
- You might move. No matter how certain you are right now about your future plans, they could change. If they do, you could end up living far away from where you are now, meaning you are far away from the funeral home. 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.
- Modifications may be impossible. As a general rule, pre-paid funeral contracts lock everything in as of the date you execute the contract. In fact, pre-paying at today’s prices is the primary incentive to enter into 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 of the contract.
- The funeral home could go out of business. Like any business, the funeral home to go out of business or wind up in bankruptcy. If either occurs, you are probably out of luck. If you enter into a contract when you are 60 and live to be 85, a lot can happen to that business in the intervening 25 years.
- You won’t be around to litigate a dispute. Typically, contract disputes are litigated in civil court by the parties to the contract. Litigating a dispute over a pre-paid funeral contract, however, because you won’t be around. Moreover, there is a very short period of time within which the contract can be fulfilled. Your loved ones don’t have the time, or likely the emotional energy, to try and resolve a dispute while they are grieving your loss. If the contract doesn’t work exactly as planned, the entire thing is probably going to be worthless to them.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to incorporate funeral planning into your estate plan, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.