Funeral Planning

Planning ahead and comparing options can help families avoid hasty and often expensive decisions. Informed choices about funeral arrangements can be made when everyone who wants to participate in the planning is available. Think and talk about what arrangements you would like to have.

Collect information on the cost of services you want, as prices differ greatly. Put plans in writing, keep them where they can be easily found, and tell someone you trust where they are. Do not put funeral plans in a will, which will not be read until after the funeral.

Cremation is government regulated. Be sure to check with your legal advisor to make sure your wishes for cremation will be honored. Organ and body donation also can be preplanned, see medical information.

The cost of a funeral depends on the casket and services chosen. Funeral homes must provide current prices of all goods and services, in writing, if asked. Funerals can be prepaid in a lump sum, in payments, through purchase of a special-purpose insurance policy, or through a burial trust fund, which can be purchased through the funeral home.

Some funeral homes will “guarantee” your funeral will not cost more than you paid, even if prices rise. Money paid in advance, including accumulated interest, can be transferred to another funeral home after your death and sometimes before. The new funeral home may charge more.

Neither the irrevocable burial trust fund nor the irrevocable prepaid policy counts as an asset when determining eligibility for TennCare (Medicaid). Social Security, the Veterans’ Administration, and life and casualty insurance pay death benefits, depending on the circumstances at time of death.