Plan for your funeral in advance to save big bucks

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Plan for your funeral in advance to save big bucks
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Here’s a deadly topic that people don’t like to talk about—planning your funeral arrangements in advance.

Clark became a lifetime member of a nonprofit memorial society back in the ’70s. Is that what you’d call advance preparation or great pessimism? He was in his 20s and already thinking about when he wouldn’t be here!

Join a non-profit memorial society

The memorial society Clark joined gave him access to group buying power to get a great deal on cremation or burial. Being a member will cut the costs of your disposition by about 75%.

You simply pay a lifetime fee of around $25-$35 that varies by state. The memorial society will then contact a funeral home to preplan arrangements at a low price. Be sure to tell your loved ones you’ve joined and give them access to the paperwork so they know how to proceed when the time comes.

There is an alternative, which is to pay in advance for burial arrangements. But Clark is against this option. Many years ago, The Washington Post reported on a cemetery in Maryland that catered to pre-need clients. But the operator stole the money—instead of putting it in escrow—and then sold the operation and moved to Florida. The new owners didn’t know anything about the existing customers and couldn’t honor their contracts when they did pass away. So the families had to pay a second time.

That’s excatly why Clark advises you not to pay in advance, but rather to just plan in advance. Funerals.org is one site where you can get a referral to join your local chapter of a memorial society.

Nearly a dozen states don’t have access to non-profit memorial society

There are non-profit memorial societies serving every state except for a small handful—Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, West Virginia and Wyoming.

What can you do if you live in one of those states? Funerals.org suggests you explore starting a group yourself or you can contact them for other options.

Many homes have gone through roll-ups and been bought out by huge national chains. But the homes will still retain the old family-operated names. Unfortunately, economies of scale do not apply here. In fact, national chains come in and raise the rates astronomically.

What can you do if you haven’t done any planning and you’re in sudden need of a funeral home? You’ve got to try to do some comparison shopping (as hard as that may be at the time) and find a locally owned and operated funeral home. That should run you about half to two-thirds off the cost of the giant monster mega-chains. Remember, you can’t tell from the name outside, so you must ask.

Read more: After 12 years of paying off a burial plan, this man was hit with $3,000 in hidden fees

Why you need a will—even if you think you don’t

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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