If you're considering your final wishes so your family knows what to do when you die, you have to choose between merely pre-planning—consulting with a funeral home and working out with them what you'd want your family to do—and actually pre-paying for the funeral. Both have their advantages, but where you are in life, literally and figuratively, play a role in which choice is better for you. Here's a look at what to consider when deciding to pre-plan or pre-pay.
Pre-pay if you're sure you know where you want to be buried, but stick with pre-planning if you're not sure. It is easy to transfer plans should you have to move to a new city, but harder to transfer pre-paid coffin and service costs.
Funeral costs, like every other cost, are likely to go up in the future, not go down. Pre-planning can give you and your family an idea of what the funeral might cost, but it leaves those costs open to substantial change. Pre-paying locks in most costs and can save you money over the years.
At the same time, pre-paying now reduces the money you have and prevents you from investing and growing that money. It's possible that if you invested the money now, your family would have much more than enough to pay the funeral costs at the time of your death. If you don't think you can take a chunk of your finances away from investing now, pre-planning but not pre-paying is better.
How Much Your Family Can Handle
Remember that at the time of your death, your family is already going to be going through great stress. The stress of having to shell out several thousand dollars for a funeral could be too much for them, especially if they don't have the money available right then or if they don't have enough available credit. That leaves them with the options of going into debt to bury you or not burying you for several weeks.
While life insurance or specific bank accounts can certainly help, it takes a while for those funds to be released, and your family would need your official death certificate to get those funds. Death certificates can take a few weeks to arrive depending on how busy the county office in charge of the certificates is at that time. That can leave your family in an awfully embarrassing limbo.
Pre-paying eliminates most of these problems. If you are unsure if your family will be able to pay for your funeral at the time of your death, go with pre-paying. If you're sure that your family will be able to pay, however, then merely pre-planning and letting your family know your plans could work out just fine.
How Crowded the Cemetery Is
If the cemetery you are planning to be buried in is getting crowded, then at least pre-pay for the plot, if not the coffin, services, and other costs. Reserving and paying for a plot at least gets you a spot in the cemetery, which is important if you plan to be buried with family.
If you'd like to discuss your funeral plans and see what current costs are, talk to funeral homes in your area (such as Ryan-Parke Funeral Home). You'll get an idea of how fast the cemetery is filling up and whether pre-paying some costs now would be suitable.