J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Consider making funeral arrangements part of your estate plan

When a loved one dies, the last thing a grieving family wants to do is to make decisions regarding the funeral. If the wishes of the deceased are not documented in the estate plan, however, funeral planning is exactly what a family will have to do.

Including wishes for your funeral in your will can go beyond simply a mention of your preferences for burial vs. cremation. In fact, many of the arrangements can be made in advance.

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) Funeral Rule was enacted in 1984 to require funeral businesses give customers clear pricing information. Despite this law, customers still struggle to receive adequate pricing information. This further illustrates the need to make arrangements in advance.

Since pricing is seldom available online for funeral services, it may take more time and effort to determine arrangement. It is hard to know what to ask, as you may not have been through this process before. Below are some tips from the FTC and Funeral Consumers Alliance:

  • Ask for itemized pricing - Federal law requires that 16 standardized goods and services appear on every funeral home's pricing list.
  • Start looking for options in advance - Don't wait until you are under pressure to make a decision. 
  • Put your wishes in writing - Ask for itemized price quotes from funeral homes you visit and discuss your wishes with your family.
  • Bring someone trustworthy along - It never hurts to have others with you whose opinions you trust.
  • Don't disclose financial information - Do not provide any information regarding your assets or insurance policies until you know how much you will pay.
  • Consult with an attorney - Discuss your wishes with your estate planning lawyer who can help to ensure it is properly documented.

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