What to know about pre-planning a funeral

It’s not something you typically want to think about, but pre-planning your funeral, or a funeral for a loved one, is an important part of planning for the future.  Rip-offs and scams are an unfortunate part of navigating this ever-changing landscape.  There are also new options and alternatives for funerals these days, such as a POD account.

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder:  “Many consumers will go to the same funeral home that their family has gone too because they have experience and they know what to expect. But funerals are expensive so it is good to shop around to make sure you are getting the best price possible.  Many funeral homes offer an opportunity to pre-pay your funeral fees, but if you’re going to do that you need to make sure that there’s protection against that funeral home going out of business. Is there insurance that’s provided – can those funds be transferred to another funeral home, because the last thing you want to do is spend that money and find out it’s no longer there.”

Kathleen Hartman, Greenleaf Financial Group:  “I think one of the key things is to really let your family members know what you would like and I would put it in writing and I would distribute it to everybody.  You are really saving them a lot of time and often family arguments or problems when there are a lot of other things they are going to be having to take care of to.  I think an easier and more flexible thing would be to put the money in a checking or savings account and simply add what’s called a POD it stands for payable on death designation. There is a form that your bank or credit union would have you fill out and have it paid to the person then who will be taking care of these arrangements after your death all they have to do is show a death certificate and they’ll get the money right away and can carry out your wishes whatever they are.”

Barbara Milton, Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Centers:  “I tell a family to come pretty much with an open mind because a lot of consumers are unaware with of the different options that have evolved over time.  One of the big things consumers need to realize is that funeral/cemetery laws vary by state. Now the one thing that crosses all state lines within the United States is the fact they are required to give them what is referred to as a general price list.”

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder: “Unfortunately, scams do happen in the funeral industry. And it’s unfortunate because it’s a time when consumers are very stressed and very emotional, but they need to be good shoppers too. We’ve heard situations where consumers have overpaid for services as well as embezzlement of pre-paid funeral funds.”

Angie’s List Tips:

  • POD accounts:

        Available at banks and credit unions

        More flexible option


  • Write your wishes down and distribute them to family
  • Pre-planning can save time, arguments, and money
  • Laws vary state by state
  • Funeral homes must provide general price list

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Jennifer Wiley

Jennifer Wiley is a videographer at Angie's List, where she shoots and edits videos for Angie's List TV partners across the United States. She enjoys getting out in the field and interacting with members and service providers.

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