“Nothing is certain but death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin once wrote.
The fact that we’re going to die one day is a morbid thought. Some people try to avoid the thought, while others go to great lengths to plan for it.
Death is one of the most personal of all subjects. People get opinionated discussing it. There are also financial choices to make.
So should you plan and prepay for your funeral? That's what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Does Clark Think You Should Prepay for Your Funeral?
Is it a good idea to pay for your funeral while you’re still alive?
A listener wanted to run that question past Clark on the March 9 podcast episode.
Christina in Minnesota asked: "I'm 44 and wonder if it's a good idea to plan and prepay for my funeral. I want to be cremated. I have a partner I've been with for seven years. My dad is my only family.
"My mother passed away a couple of years ago unexpectedly and I had to make major decisions on the fly to honor her wishes. I [also] had to pay for all of it.
"Is it a good idea for me to plan for my demise? I have a flash drive with all of my passwords and printed copy of my will and a detailed spreadsheet of my assets. I just want to make things as stress-free as I can for the two important people in my life."
Clark regularly gives advice on funeral planning. And he thinks Christina deserves thanks for bringing up a topic that doesn't get discussed in public very often.
“First of all, I want to thank you, Christina, for opening up about how you had to suffer the loss of your mom in your heart and you had to make those arrangements on the fly, which is so often the case,” Clark says.
“You’re 44. Odds are you will be with us for another four decades or so. But you never know how long our life is. And a lot of people that are aging don’t want to deal with the uncomfortable topic of death. So they ignore it. And they do so at the peril of their loved ones.”
Why It’s Cheaper To Prepay for Your Funeral
It’s hard to expect a person to make a smart financial decision related to end-of-life arrangements while said person is mourning the death of a loved one.
Once you’ve died, Clark says, the person handling your funeral — including burial, cremation or some other option — will be “frightfully overcharged.”
“Grieving relatives walking into a funeral home and say, ‘OK, here’s my wallet. Just burn up all the money in it,'” Clark says.
“You will pay 10 times the cost, potentially, just walking in that funeral home, what you do if you make the arrangements in advance or know to shop around online and negotiate.”
The Best Way To Prepay for Your Funeral
If you decide to prepay for your funeral, make sure you state your wishes. Figure out how you want it done.
“This lifts this burden from a grieving father or boyfriend in your case,” Clark says in his answer to Christina.
Join your local state nonprofit memorial society. Go to funerals.org and find out if there's one near you. The nonprofit may have cheaper, negotiated rates for end-of-life care. It also should be able to provide good educational information about how to make these plans.
“And they may use group buying power to get much, much lower prices on burials or cremations,” Clark says.
It can be challenging to think about your own mortality no matter how old you are. But doing so, specifically when it comes to end-of-life planning, can save your friends and family a lot of money and emotional distress.
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