BOSTON (CBS) – Most members of the Over the Hill Gang read the obituaries daily. As we age we acquire an awareness of our own mortality as we attend funerals for family and friends.

Pre-paying for a funeral is something that I am often asked about. It may be the practical thing to do if you have just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer or are in your late 80s.

But if you are just 55 I am not sure it’s a good idea to pre-pay for something that may not occur for another 30 years.

Today the average funeral costs close to $8,000 and add in a reception and cemetery plot, grave marker and you could be looking at $10,000 or more.

There are advantages to pre-arranged and prepaid funerals:

  • The burden of making the funeral arrangements is done.
  • Your last wishes are recorded.
  • Where and what kind of service you would like is all pre-arranged.

 

But I do believe the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

  • The funeral director could be a fraud
  • You may be stuck with the cemetery plot if you should move
  • It may be very difficult to change the arrangements
  • Contracts are often very strict and can be cancelled if you miss a payment
  • There may be finance charges involved
  • You may not be able to get a refund
  • There may be hidden fees such as commissions to the person who sold it to you.

 

Instead of pre-paying I would recommend pre-planning. I know that pre-planning works and helps the survivors cope during a very stressful time.

Leave a letter of instruction for your family as to what kind of service you would like and take the time to plan it. Be sure your family knows where the letter is kept. Then set aside some money to cover the costs. A CD, savings bonds or a life insurance policy will do but all take time to access. If you want to be sure the money is quickly available set up a savings account as a Payable on Death account. Or just let them worry about paying for it.

One more thing: Check out the US consumer guide on funerals: Funerals: Consumer Guide

To plan an inexpensive funeral look to Costco and Wal-Mart for help with caskets, urns and flowers.

………………..

You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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