The 4 Different Types of Funeral Pre-Planning Explained

More and more Americans are pre-planning their own funerals in order to ease the burden on their loved ones. Funeral pre-planning also has other benefits for both the planner and the family. When you pre-plan, you can get a better price, have more control over your funeral, and pick out arrangements that you like. There are several different ways to go about planning your own funeral. While many of these methods involve pre-paying for funeral goods, not all types of pre-planning involve putting money down. 

What Are The Different Types of Funeral Pre-Planning?

The term “funeral pre-planning” encompases several different methods of preparing for one’s own funeral. The goal behind pre-planning is for you to make the funeral easier on your relatives. For some families, this means pre-paying for all the materials, setting up an account to cover expenses, or leaving behind last wishes. It is important to pre-plan in a way that makes sense for your family. 

When you pre-plan, you should consider the following factors:

  • Do you want to be buried or cremated? Is there another option that you want? Most importantly: do those closest to you know this? 
  • The vessel: have you already paid for a casket or an urn? Do you have money set aside to cover these costs? 
  • The location: If you choose burial, which cemetery do you want to be in? If there is a family plot, would you like to be buried there? If you chose cremation, what do you want to be done with your ashes? Where should your family scatter them? Who do you want to have some? 
  • How big of a funeral do you want? For those who choose a larger, more elaborate funeral, they should put aside more money to cover the greater costs. 
  • Do you want to personalize your funeral? If so, you should communicate this to your family members in advance and leave a written document. 
  • Do you have a preference on what headstone you want? Additionally, do you have a preference on the name that goes on your headstone? Some people only go by a nickname and do not want their real name on their headstone. Others have a deadname, which they probably do not want on their headstone. 
  • Are you okay with your family members making choices on your behalf? Some people want to control every aspect of their funeral, right down to the casket. Others are okay with their family members making those choices. How much control you want can help determine which funeral pre-planning method is right for you. 

When you sit down to begin pre-planning, there are 5 ways to go about it:

  1. Pre-Planning Only – There is no money involved. You decide what you want and let everyone around you know. 
  1. Leaving Behind a Funeral Fund or Trust – You set money aside for funeral costs, but ultimately let the family set up the rest. 
  1. Funeral or Life Insurance – Not quite the same as a funeral fund. It is a plan that will pay out at the time of need for expenses. 
  1. Pre-Purchasing With a Funeral Home – You pay for items and packages ahead of time through a local funeral home. 
  1. Pre-Purchasing Online – You buy a casket online to be delivered at the time of need. 

Funeral Pre-Planning Without Purchasing

Pre-planning your own funeral does not have to involve spending money. Pre-planning can also mean leaving behind a record of what you want for your funeral. The key to this type of pre-planning is to properly document your wishes. It is not enough to joke about wanting a viking funeral. Nor does commenting that you want to be buried during an episode of Lost count as pre-planning. 

man putting a coin into a jar and writing down on a scratch pad | Different types of funeral pre-planning | Overnight Caskets

The key to pre-planning is writing it down. You can put your funeral wishes in your will, but you do not have to. In fact, it is best if you document your wishes, share copies with your family members, and set a copy in a folder alongside your will. 

While it may be tempting to not take this seriously, an important part of funeral pre-planning is understanding what is and isn’t an option. For example, a lot of people joke about wanting a viking funeral, having their body launched into the sun, or being buried in the backyard. For obvious reasons, it is not legal to have a viking funeral. Nor is it possible for your body to be launched into the sun. If you want to be buried on your own property, those laws vary by state

However, this does not mean that your funeral has to be boring. There are several more inventive options for after your death. For example, your ashes could be made into jewelry, a vase, a tattoo, a portrait of you, fireworks, a vinyl record, a coral reef, a tree, or a diamond. It is also possible to have your ashes scattered while skydiving, out at sea, in a national park, or sent into space

While all of these options are very cool, it is important to remain realistic. If you want one of the above done with your ashes, you should consider leaving behind a funeral fund to help your family pay for it. If you don’t provide adequate funds, they may not be able to follow through with your unique wishes. 

Funeral Funds and Trusts

This type of funeral pre-planning involves leaving behind money for your funeral without pre-purchasing specific items or services. Funeral funds are ideal for those who do not know what they want after death. It allows your family to make the choice for you, while saving them the burden of paying for it. If you know what you want but do not want to pre-pay for it, a funeral fund can also be a fitting choice. 

There are 2 basic ways to leave behind money for funeral purposes: a funeral fund and a funeral trust. 

A funeral fund is a type of arrangement between you and a bank or credit union. This type of account is a Payable On Death account or a Totten trust. Here’s how it works: 

  1. You set up the account and put money into it. 
  2. You designate beneficiaries.
  3. Following your death, your beneficiary will receive the contents of your account. 

POD accounts can transfer all of your remaining assets to a beneficiary or to pay out just enough for the funeral. Setting up this type of account comes with no fees, but it may be subject to creditors and any outstanding taxes. 

A funeral trust is a little different. Trusts are usually set up through a bank or credit union, but the beneficiary is a funeral home, rather than a family member. This means that the money will go straight towards funeral expenses when you die. If you have concerns about what your family will do with your funeral money, a trust may be a good option. 

There are 2 types of funeral trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust allows you to maintain control of the assets. You would be able to dissolve the trust, change the beneficiary, and change the terms of the contract. 

With an irrevocable trust, a third-party trustee controls the assets. You would not be able to change beneficiaries or dissolve the account. 

Funeral Pre-Planning With a Funeral Home

When you pre-plan with a funeral home, you are pre-purchasing items and pre-paying for services. Most funeral homes offer packages that include a casket, a vault, embalming, a viewing in their building, and burial services. Many people choose this option because they know their local funeral home or because they have relatives who did the same thing. 

However, funeral pre-planning through a brick-and-mortar location can have risks. For example, what if you move away or the funeral home goes out of business. It is also possible for the funeral home to be purchased by a chain and to not hold up their end of the deal. 

Compared to other options, pre-purchasing through a funeral home can be ideal for some people. It works well for older people who are settled in their forever home. It is also popular among people who live in small towns who see their local funeral director in church everyday. When you pre-purchase in person, you can see the casket that you are buying before you pay. It can also be easier for the family to navigate when they have to set the ball in motion and make good on what you pre-purchased. 

wood casket with flower petals in the back of a hearse | different types of funeral pre-planning | Overnight Caskets

Funeral Pre-Planning Online 

It is also possible to pre-purchase a casket online. Overnight Caskets has a pre-need division that handles all your pre-planning needs. This option is great for people who want lots of control over their funeral. The catalog has a wide range of caskets in different sizes, materials, and colors. If you are a person who knows exactly what you want, you are sure to find a good fit for you in our catalog. 

In general, there are many benefits to actually pre-purchasing funeral items instead of just putting money aside: 

  • When you put money aside, it may end up not being enough. The prices of funeral goods will inflate over time, while your money in a funeral fund or a trust won’t grow at the same rate. At the time of need, your fund or trust may not have enough money to cover everything. This would force your loved ones to make up the difference. 
  • Setting money aside in a funeral trust will ensure that the money is only used for the funeral. However, POD accounts can be used for anything. If you have concerns about how your funeral money will be spent, it may be best to just buy funeral items ahead of time. 
  • When you pre-purchase a casket online, there is very little risk of Overnight Caskets going out of business or being bought out. Online businesses do not have the same overhead as brick-and-mortar stores. This makes them safe for long-term pre-purchasing. 
  • It is also more affordable to pre-purchase a casket online. Funeral homes often markup casket prices because they have lots of overhead. Overnight Caskets, on the other hand, buys straight from the manufacturer and doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location to maintain. When we save on inventory, you get to save too. For this reason, our caskets are significantly cheaper than what you would find in a funeral home. 

Pe-purchasing a casket online is a simple, stress-free process. The buying process is completely free of pushy salesman tactics. No one will try to trick you or upsell you. The first step is to browse the online casket catalog. If you have a preference, it is possible to filter by material and the thickness of the metal. 

Once you find a casket that you like, simply check out the way you would at any other online store. If needed, you will be able to provide a shipping address at a later date. Once you have checked out, you will receive a receipt and paperwork to confirm that funeral pre-planning purchase. 

The most important thing that you can do is to inform your closest friends and family of your decision. You should also keep the paperwork in a safe place, possibly in a folder alongside your will. When the time comes, someone just needs to call Overnight Caskets and we will ship out the casket that you chose. 

Please note that when you pre-purchase with Overnight Caskets, you are just buying the casket. We recommend also pre-paying for a plot as well as any other services you want. Many people will pre-purchase a casket online, then either pre-pay for services at a funeral home or set aside money for services in a fund or trust. 

Learn More About Online Funeral Pre-Planning

Contact Overnight Caskets to learn more about pre-purchasing your casket. We are here to help you navigate the pre-purchasing process. You can contact us by email, phone, or chatbot at any time of day.

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