Funeral preplanning for lasting peace of mind
What is Funeral Preplanning?
Funeral preplanning is arranging and, in some cases, paying in advance for funeral services. Funeral preplanning can be as simple as creating some notes regarding your personal preferences and vital information to be kept on file at the funeral home. It can also involve making service and merchandise selections in advance and prefunding those selections through a bank trust or insurance policy to lock in selections against inflation. Our licensed staff can explain all of the preplanning options to you and personally guide you through each decision. Prearrangement consultations are free and without obligation. We welcome your questions.
Making funeral arrangements after a death occurs is stressful. Families are simultaneously experiencing grief, sadness and sometimes shock. At the same time, some religious laws dictate that burial take place as soon as possible after death occurs. Coupled with the urgency of notifying friends and family, the burden of arranging a funeral can seem overwhelming and leave families feeling vulnerable.
- Peace of Mind
Preplanning offers peace of mind that one’s final wishes will be fulfilled. The burden of making funeral decisions or financial arrangements at an emotionally difficult time will be lifted from loved ones. Family members also benefit knowing that, at the time of need, funeral arrangements will be carried out in accordance with the wishes of their loved one and that they will not be responsible for difficult decisions or financial obligations.
- Clearer Decisions
Preplanning allows families to confront difficult decisions with a clear mind offering an opportunity for deliberation, price comparison and a measure of control. Unlike funeral arrangements made shortly after death occurs, preplanning offers sufficient time for consulting family, friends or clergy, if desired. Prearrangements can be made in the convenience of one’s home or office, at the funeral home, through a phone conversation or e-mail
- Spending Down.
Preplanning accompanied by prefunding can be a useful shelter for “spending down” funds prior to applying for Medicaid or Title 19 benefits. Once the death benefit has been irrevocably assigned to the funeral home, the insurance policy or up to $3,000 of a bank trust is generally not considered to be an accountable asset for purposes of eligibility.
- Guaranteed Price
By prefunding the arrangements in full, funeral home services and merchandise (casket and burial vault) selections are locked in at the time of prepayment. Interest earned in a bank trust or insurance policy is used to offset inflation. If the interest earned exceeds inflation at the time of need, the remaining balance is returned to the estate or can be applied to cash advances, additional selections or a monument based on the family’s wishes. If the interest earned falls short of inflation, the family will not be charged the difference. Cash advances for flowers, newspaper notices, death certificates, clergy honorarium or any other services obtained from a third party on behalf of the family are at the actual cost at the time of need. Although the funeral home cannot guarantee those prices in advance, it can estimate those expenses so that funds are set aside to adequately cover them.
Is prefunded required?
Prefunding funeral arrangements is not required. A non-funded informational file with notes of final wishes, a record of vital information or even a draft newspaper notice may be kept at the funeral home. Sometimes just knowing that the family need only make a single phone call at the time of need provides enormous relief and peace of mind. The funeral home staff can assist with creating an unfunded prearrangement file. Whether prearrangements are funded or unfunded, the consultation is free and without obligation.
How are prearrangements funded?
If prefunding arrangements would be beneficial to you, our licensed preneed specialist can explain and assist with the prefunding option of your choice. She can meet with you at your home or office, at the funeral home or via phone or e-mail. Please note that when prearrangements are funded, the funds are never transferred to the funeral home until funeral goods and services are provided. There are two options for funding prearrangements:
- Burial Trust
Families may elect to partially or fully prefund through a burial trust at the federally insured bank of their choice. Trust funds are still considered an asset which means that interest earned is taxable. The owner will receive a 1099 form at the end of each year. There is no age or health prerequisite to creating a burial trust. The trust document will direct payment to the funeral home upon presentation of a death certificate and final invoice.
- Insurance Funded Burial Agreement
Insurance funding can be used to cover all funeral related costs including professional services, casket, vault and cash advance items such as newspaper notice and clergy honorarium. There are no health requirements if a single premium payment plan is selected. The owner will not receive a 1099 form because there is no taxable interest. We have an experienced licensed, preneed agent on staff that can assist with preneed prefunding decisions.
What happens when death occurs?
When death occurs, the family or caregiver need only make one call to the funeral home. The funeral director will schedule the funeral after consultation with the family, cemetery and clergy. If prearrangements have been made, he family will have the opportunity to review the prearrangements with the funeral director, if desired. The funeral home will then provide the goods and services in accordance with the prearrangements. If the family adheres to the prearrangements, there will be no additional charge for the guaranteed items such as the service charge, casket or vault even if the price of those items has increased more than the interest earned. The family would only be billed for cash advances in excess of those prefunded in the prearrangements together with any additional merchandise, services or cash advances selected at the time of need.
Can I transfer my prearrangements from another funeral home to Goodman-Bensman Funeral Home?
At any time after you have made prearrangements and even after death occurs, you or your family can transfer your prearrangements to Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home. If you have prearrangements in another city or with another local funeral home, we can assist you with transferring those arrangements to us. In some cases, transferring from another funeral home may result in savings for your family as a result of our lower prices. You need not contact the other funeral home. Our staff will prepare a letter for you to sign authorizing the transfer, and we will handle the rest.
What Information Do I Need to Provide?
For the convenience of our families, we have provided a link to our Funeral Planning Guide. The Funeral Planning Guide is a useful tool to gather required vital statistic information in advance of need.
Please feel free to complete this at your convenience and bring it with you to your free preplanning consultation.