Preplan, don’t prepay

Mr. Owens: You are confusing preplanning with prepaying. FCA heartily endorses planning ahead and educating your survivors so that ignorance of their options does not compound their grief when death occurs. This entire site is dedicated to that, and it’s hard to understand how you could miss that. Prepaying is a different matter altogether. Those who prepay don’t know their money isn’t usually well-protected against fraud. Hundreds of millions of dollars in consumers’ prepaid money has gone missing in the past year alone. In addition, those who prepay usually fail to educate their survivors on what they bought, how to make changes if necessary, whether to expect to have to pay more or not, and myriad other necessary details. Paying ahead does not lift a burden from survivors if it comes at the cost of leaving them ignorant of the contract details, and unable to know what to do if Dad dies out of the service area of the funeral home, just to name one example. The best approach, in our experience, is to have a candid family discussion well in advance of death. Shop around, and make sure your survivors understand their legal rights, what your wishes are, and how to find an affordable funeral that meets the family’s needs. One can always put money aside in an account for this purpose without locking it up with a funeral home. No matter how badly we’d like it to be true, there’s no such thing as “taking care of everything” and “removing all the burden” from survivors. We do them a disservice when we pretend this is so, because we leave them ignorant and unable to help themselves when they are faced with decisions (and they will be) at the time of death. Josh Slocum Executive Director

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