Making funeral arrangements before you need them assures that your funeral will closely resemble your desires. It also spares your loved ones from some making decisions while under emotional stress.

Preplanning allows you to compare prices and services – something that your family members may not be able to do at the time of your death.

Decisions include burial or cremation. If you opt for burial, visit the cemetery and decide on the plot. If you prefer cremation, specify how you want loved ones to deal with your ashes.

Consider whether you want a traditional, full-service funeral with embalming, viewings and services, or direct burial in a simple container.

Funeral costs include:

  • Basic fees for the funeral director
  • Charges for other services such as transporting the remains or a ceremony
  • Fees for flowers, obituary notices or pallbearers
  • Embalming
  • Casket for a traditional, full-service funeral
  • Burial vaults or grave liners
  • Cemetery sites

The Federal Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, requires funeral directors to provide an itemized list of prices. The director must show you descriptions of caskets and prices before showing you the caskets. If you purchase a casket from another source, the funeral director providing services must use it.

Some people chose to prepay for their funerals. That may lock in a price for the casket or services. Know exactly what is covered and what will happen to the money you have prepaid.

Make sure you are protected if the funeral home ceases operations. Know what will happen if you leave the area. Find out if the prepaid arrangements are transferable to another company.

Talk to family members about your plans. Put your plans in writing and keep the document in an easily accessible place. Give copies to loved ones and your attorney. Do not place the only copy of your plans in a safety deposit box – family members can only access your safety deposit box during business hours.

Review your funeral plans every few years to ensure they still reflect your wishes.

For more information about funeral planning, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s web page Funeral Planning section by selecting this link: