Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q: Should I pre-pay my funeral?

A:  At One Senior Place, our mission is education. We advocate planning ahead for most things related to aging. Seniors frequently receive mailers and brochures related to pre-planning for funerals. But there is a difference between planning your funeral ahead of time and PAYING for it.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each scenario.

 Pre-Arranging your funeral

The concept of “shopping” for funeral arrangements sounds bizarre to many people, but the practice is on the rise. Why? Pre-arranging your funeral takes the burden off your family. Funeral directors share that families often spend more money on a funeral than the deceased would have wanted, out of a sense of guilt or grief. Begin by deciding the type of arrangement: cremation or burial? By comparison shopping, you’ll find big price differences from one funeral home to another (and from one state to another). Visit several local funeral homes, fill out a pre-arrangement form, and the funeral associates will create a plan for your wishes.  Often, funeral homes will keep your pre-arrangement form on file.

 Prepaying your funeral

Most of the pre-payment options include a whole life policy, payable in installments, to a third party insurance company. There are also trust options that will allow for a lump-sum payment, held in an interest bearing account, with the funeral home as the trustee.  But what happens if death occurs before the premiums are paid in full? What about transportation to another state for burial? Will prepayment cover the entire cost of the funeral? Can you get a refund?  The answers to these questions can help inform your decision about pre-arrangement versus pre-payment. Regardless of which you choose, it is important to designate a “payable on death” beneficiary on your bank account, so that your loved one can pay for any last minute expenses.

 Medicaid and prepaid funerals

Prepaying for your funeral may be an effective way to reduce or “spend down” your assets to qualify for Medicaid benefits. By prepaying your prearranged funeral plan, the funds that you have set aside are made irrevocable and permanent, and therefore not counted as an asset by Medicaid.

Pre-planning your funeral is a good decision. Find your best fit by talking with your family and a qualified funeral director. If Medicaid is part of your planning, include an estate-planning attorney. Remember: It’s not “taken care of” until you share your documents with your family. And if you’re set on cremation, One Senior Place in Viera can connect you on site with the National Cremation Society.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.