${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
Throughout Southern California
310-324-9403
Toll-Free
866-402-1805
View Our Practice Areas

Pre-Paid Funeral Plans: Buyer Beware

Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral costs about $7,000, although "extras" like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards and limousines can bring the total to well over $10,000. Moreover, people often "overspend" on a funeral or burial because they think of it as a reflection of their feelings for the deceased.

graveyard-church-crocus-cemetery-161280.jpegTo help relieve their families of some of these decisions, an increasing number of people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and sometimes even paying for them in advance. In fact, many elder law attorneys advise prepayment as a way to invest in assets that will not be countable by Medicaid or SSI and affect those benefits.

However, consumers lose millions of dollars every year when pre-need funeral funds are misspent or misappropriated. A funeral provider could mishandle, mismanage or embezzle the funds. Some go out of business before the need for the pre-paid funeral arises. Others sell policies that are virtually worthless.

Consumers received some protection from unscrupulous funeral providers with the creation of the Funeral Rule in 1984. This rule, administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requires funeral providers to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and other specific disclosures about funeral goods and services. Unfortunately, the Funeral Rule does not apply to many of the features of pre-need contracts, which are governed solely by state law, and protections vary widely from state to state. Some state laws require the funeral home or cemetery to place a percentage of the prepayment in a state-regulated trust or to purchase a life insurance policy with the death benefits assigned to the funeral home or cemetery. Other states, however, offer buyers of pre-need plans little or no effective protection.

Following are some questions that the FTC recommends asking before signing up for a pre-need funeral arrangement. The questions are from the FTC's Shopping for Funeral Services page.

  • What happens to the money you've prepaid? States have different requirements for handling funds paid for prearranged funeral services.
  • What happens to the interest income on money that is prepaid and put into a trust account?
  • Are you protected if the firm you dealt with goes out of business?
  • Can you cancel the contract and get a full refund if you change your mind?
  • What happens if you move to a different area or die while away from home? Some prepaid funeral plans can be transferred, but often at an added cost.

In addition, find out exactly what you are paying for and compare with other funeral providers. Sometimes it's more convenient and less stressful to "price shop" funeral homes by telephone.  The Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to provide price information over the phone to any caller who asks for it.  And make sure the price is locked in and additional money won't be required at the time of death.

These pitfalls can be avoided, of course, by making decisions about your arrangements in advance, but not paying for them in advance. Be sure to tell your family about the plans you've made; let them know where the documents are filed. If your family isn't aware that you've made plans, your wishes may not be carried out. You may wish to consult an attorney at Kavesh, Minor & Otis on the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed.

Article Provided by www.elderlawanswers.com

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Find Out The Difference That Experience And Expertise Makes

Get the peace of mind that you deserve. First, attend a seminar. This will entitle you to a free initial consultation and a discounted estate planning fee. To learn more about our services or sign up for a seminar, contact us online or call us at 866-402-1805. We have offices in Torrance, Orange, Newport Beach, Pasadena and Woodland Hills.

Questions? Contact Us.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Call Now For A Free Consultation: 866-402-1805
  • ${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
  • Main Office: Torrance

    Torrance Office
    990 West 190th Street
    Suite 500
    Torrance, CA 90502

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Orange Office
    333 City Boulevard West
    17th Floor
    Orange, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Newport Beach Office
    5000 Birch Street
    Suite 8000
    Newport Beach, CA 92660

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Pasadena Office
    790 East Colorado Boulevard
    9th Floor
    Pasadena, CA 91101

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Woodland Hills Office
    5850 Canoga Avenue
    4th Floor
    Woodland Hills, CA 91367

    Toll Free: 866-402-1805
    Map & Directions

    Office map
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis on Yelp
Check out Kavesh Minor & Otis on Yelp
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis - Orange on Yelp
Check out The Law Firm of Kavesh Minor & Otis - Pasadena on Yelp