The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) defines pre-arrangement (which sometimes is called “pre-need” or “advance funeral planning”) as “a contract for the delivery of specific funeral goods and services in the future.” A practice which is becoming increasingly more popular each year, it was estimated in 1990 that more than one million American adults participated in these programs. With the maturing of the baby boomer generation, more individuals than ever are taking advantage of this unique planning opportunity.

Pre-arrangement allows you to choose your funeral service, and creates an opportunity for you to discuss your preferences with your spouse, children and other relatives, friends, clergy and other professionals with whom you are comfortable.

A meaningful funeral ceremony is one which is significant to you, your family and your friends. With many choices available, including traditional services, remembrance gatherings, religious ceremonies and memorial services, pre-arranging provides you an opportunity to design the service you want. You can also choose ground burial or cremation, along with various funeral related items which are appropriate for the ceremony and memorialization.

Planning a funeral in advance is a thoughtful decision which reduces stress of decision-making, uncertainty, and financial obligations when a death occurs. Through pre-arranging, loved ones find relief in knowing your wishes, eliminating tough decisions in a short period of time.

Some individuals plan ahead because, for one reason or another, there may be no close relative or friend who is capable of taking on this responsibility. Others have definite preferences concerning their funeral service. Still others pre-arrange because it affords them peace of mind to know there will be adequate funds to cover funeral expenses.

Perhaps most important, pre-arrangement is the result of rational preparation, without the usual urgencies that exist when a death takes place. It is a thoughtful and considerate decision that reduces the stress and confusion that can be associated with the funeral itself, allowing family and friends to focus on caring for each other when a death has occurred.

In consulation with your Funeral Director, you will customize a pre-arrangement funeral service to fit your budget. All choices are covered in an itemized price list, providing factual information concerning each item and its related cost. Each funeral firm is required by law to provide a price list which covers information regarding products and services. It is important to sit down with your Director in order to design the service you want, discuss the financial obligations, and compare the various options. Funeral expenses can be pre-paid at today’s prices for tomorrow’s need, which offers you and your family a financial incentive for planning ahead.

Pre-funding allows you to pay for the funeral service at current prices, with a variety of options available. As your plan matures over time, it offsets inflation and can provide adequate funds for the future cost of the funeral. Therefore, pre-arrangement is especially advantageous in easing potential financial pressures on your family.

Should you relocate before your death and wish to have the services and burial conducted in your new community, many pre-arrangement plans are completely transferable to another reputable funeral firm.

Like many other popular funding programs, pre-arrangement has spawned a variety of products. Your Funeral Director can explain the various funding plans and help you arrange one that is most convenient and favorable for you. Funeral professionals know the benefits and pitfalls of such funding mechanisms as personal savings accounts, certificate of deposit accounts or trust, which include commercial trust regulated by state law, a life insurance policy or an annuity contract.

Funeral Directors have valuable expertise in translating individual preferences into meaningful ceremonies. Therefore, they are especially helpful guides for designing the specific pre-arrangement program which will meet all your needs. They will take time to explain your choices, understand your preferences and provide full information prior to designing a pre-arrangement program for you. Finally, they will record certain vital information and gather documents for the required forms.

Never should you have to experience an aggressive sales pitch for pre-arrangement programs. Leading funeral firms will help you carefully consider your pre-arrangement program. It is important to place your pre-arrangement program with a funeral firm known for its long-standing service and integrity.

You can have confidence your pre-arrangement plan is right for you and will be honored in the future by taking the following steps:

-Select a funeral home known for professionalism, compassion, care, involvement in the community and a service staff which is constant and has been with the firm for many years – a sign of dedication and commitment. Obtain general information on pre-arrangement from your local Funeral Director or on the Internet in advance of a private visit for answers to your individual questions.

-Compare and verify what you have learned, including information you have obtained by talking with family members and friends who already have pre-arrangement plans.

-Make certain you read and understand a pre-arrangement contract before you sign it. Ask questions of your Funeral Director should you not understand any of the offerings.

-Be familiar with the government agencies, citizens’ groups and professional individuals and associations to which you and your family can turn to if there are concerns.

-Put the pre-arrangement contract in a safe place, with all the pertinent papers your family, friends and trusted professionals will need upon your death. Notify those important people about your pre-arrangements and what to do in the event of your death.

-The contract is one aspect of a complete record your heirs will appreciate. Other important documents will include insurance policies, real estate papers, stocks and bonds, assets and liabilities, a Will, probate information, and a list of people who should be notified upon your death.

-Your Funeral Director should provide you with an individual estate record for you to complete. A faithful and consistent update of changing events regarding personal and financial interest will provide a ready reference for your loved ones.

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