Funeral and memorial services are stressful to plan, and while you are coping with the death of a loved one, it can be confusing and frustrating to deal with the expense of these services. Knowing all your options can help you get a better handle on the situation. Here are the main ways the expenses of death can be handled.

Pay in Advance

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Excluding those cases of sudden and unexpected death, most people have the opportunity to plan ahead. A prepaid funeral trust account can cover funeral expenses without taking from the estate. Funds from the account are available to the funeral home if the trustee can show proof of death and proof of services rendered. Be aware that trusts can be expensive to set up and manage, so they may not be right for everyone.
Individuals can also make advanced payments to funeral homes and cemeteries directly, but should always be sure to ask questions such as the following:

  • Do the payments cover services as well as products'
  • Can I get a refund if I cancel the contract'
  • Does the money go to a state-regulated account, or to a life insurance policy with death benefits'

Pay through the Estate

Funerals can also be paid for using assets from the deceased's estate; however, the funds will not be available directly, so someone else will have to pay the immediate costs. The arranger of the funeral can pay the expenses and later be reimbursed in full once the estate is settled. Representatives like trust officers and estate attorneys can also pay funeral expenses from funds held in trust or from other available accounts, and later be refunded by the estate.

Pay through a Third Party
If the estate is not solvent (i.e., there is no money for a funeral or disposal of remains), expenses can be paid for by an individual like a friend or family member. The money can come from their own funds, out of an insurance policy, survivor's benefits, social security or veteran's benefits, or from a loan.

If there's no estate and the decedent had made contact with the county welfare board before his or her death, the board may pay set amounts for funeral and disposal costs. Otherwise, if friends and relatives of the deceased can't afford or refuse to pay the funeral and disposal costs, the local municipality steps in to handle the arrangements as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Help your loved ones by setting out your memorial plans in writing, where you can make your general desires and provisions known. Specifying too many details may be counter-productive, so try to provide guidance to your family while acknowledging that changes may need to be made. Create your memorial plans quickly and easily on

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Get Started Start your Memorial Plan Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get Started Start your Memorial Plan Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.