WHAT IS PRE-PLANNING?
“Pre-planning”, “advance planning”, and “prearrangement” are all terms used to refer to the process of beginning funeral arrangements prior to a person’s passing. This can mean almost anything – from the simple recording of one’s wishes regarding services, to the filing away of documents such as military discharge papers, authorizations, or obituary text, to the complete planning of funeral services, and even the partial or complete prefunding of those services. It may be done as soon or as late in life as a person desires. In essence, it is as much or as little as you wish it to be.
Eventually, everyone encounters the need for funeral arrangements. Preplanning can offer many advantages to you and to those who will ultimately be responsible for your affairs after you’re gone.
There are several reasons why preplanning may be a wise decision. These include avoiding confusion, making sure your wishes are followed, eliminating future problems, reducing emotional burdens and conflicts among your survivors, reducing the financial burden on your family, and even saving money.
Express your own wishes: Your loved ones may have a difficult time determining what your wishes may have been. Occasionally, there are even conflicts amongst family members as they try to determine what you would have wanted. By planning your own service in advance, you can eliminate the guesswork involved, express your own wishes, and possibly discover new options regarding your preferences.
Relieve an emotional burden: Making decisions about your funeral needs in advance can help free your loved ones from a difficult responsibility. It allows them to focus on support for each other and reflect on their memories of you without the burden of making major decisions in a difficult emotional state. It also protects them from leaving out details that they may later regret not considering.
Ensure needs are met: A common source of stress during the time of funeral arrangements is the possible conflict between the wishes of the deceased and the emotional or financial needs of the survivors. Preplanning gives you the opportunity to be part of this discussion and arrive at decisions that benefit all concerned.
Safekeeping information: Items such as Social Security numbers, military discharge forms, certain authorizations, and appointments of personal representatives can be critically important at the time of your passing, and may not be readily available to your family. Placing copies of this information on file with the funeral home ensures it will be available at the time of need.
Financial advantages: There may be several financial advantages to preplanning funeral services, even without prefunding. For example, simply having an estimated cost of services can allow you and your family to budget accordingly. Also, researching funeral options and costs now may help you make decisions about your final wishes, if cost is a consideration.
If you choose to prefund in part or in full, there are additional benefits. For example, in the event you should someday need to apply for Medical Assistance (Medicaid) to assist with long-term care, funds put away towards funeral costs are protected from the asset limits required for qualification. In addition, if total funeral home charges are paid in advance, those charges are then guaranteed to be paid in full, regardless of how much prices may rise in the future.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Preplanning can be as thorough or as simple as you wish. If you simply would like to file away your wishes or important information, we can place that in a file so that in the future, it may be readily available and referenced by those making final arrangements. If you would like to fully plan your services and/or estimate the cost of your desired services, we will meet with you and guide you through the planning process, recording your wishes and important information and producing a detailed, itemized cost estimate of your desired funeral services.
Should you decide that you wish to make prefunding a part of your preplanning process, it can be a wise financial decision. You may choose to prefund part or all of your funeral arrangements. The money you put away towards your funeral is not paid to the funeral home, but instead placed into a separate, secure financial instrument (i.e. an insurance policy or trust). This instrument is your asset, not the funeral provider’s; should you determine you wish to have your services performed by a different provider, the instrument is fully transferable and may be redeemed by the provider of your choice. Additionally, although the instrument is your asset, it does not count against you if applying for Medical Assistance benefits; you can place as much money as you wish into a prefunded funeral without it preventing you from qualifying for Medical Assistance.
At Mueller-Bies, we offer price-guaranteed funeral prefunding. If you prefund funeral home charges in full at today’s prices, we absolutely guarantee the chosen arrangements will never cost you or your family another cent, regardless of how much prices may increase in the future. In brief, the funding instrument will gain interest over time, which meets our future costs. Excess growth is refunded to the family; any shortfall is written off by us. In this way, we absorb all the risk of the investment. Please note that outside items (e.g. obituaries, cemetery costs, etc.) may also be prefunded, but we cannot guarantee these items. We will, however, guarantee you will have at least the money you put away towards those items available, plus the proper percentage of the growth.
Prearrangement is a compassionate way to help your family after you’re gone and can be an intelligent financial decision as well. Knowing that your family will not have to choose in grief or wonder where the money will come from to pay for your funeral offers great peace of mind. For information on funeral pricing, please see our "How Much Does a Funeral Cost?" brochure. If you have questions, would like more information, or would like to arrange a meeting with a funeral director at Mueller-Bies Funeral Home, please contact us at one of our chapels or email us here.