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 01  What Is Advanced Funeral Planning (AFP)?

Advanced Funeral Planning (AFP), also known as Pre-planning or Pre-need, is more about protection than it is about death. It offers you the opportunity to protect your family and assets, similar to how you protect your car, home, health, and other aspects of your life. It's about peace of mind, ensuring your final wishes are known and documented, and making the process easier for your loved ones.


 02  What Are the Benefits of Advanced Funeral Planning?

Planning your final wishes in advance offers numerous benefits. It provides peace of mind, reduces stress, and eliminates difficult decisions for your loved ones. It also helps protect your family from emotional overspending and prevents unexpected financial burdens. By pre-funding your plan, you can take advantage of funding options, lock in today's pricing, save money, and potentially qualify for government assistance like Medicaid.


 03  How To Start the Planning Process?

Starting the AFP process is simple and typically involves three steps: Conversation, Documentation, and Reviewing Funding Options. First, schedule a conversation with us to discuss your preferences, including cremation or burial, memorial service, cemetery property, and more. We provide this initial consultation at no charge. Next, we help you document your wishes in a personal planning guide, including essential information for future use. Lastly, we present you with funding options tailored to your needs and budget..


 04  Is Pre-paying for Final Wishes Required?

No, pre-paying for your final wishes is not mandatory. We believe in providing you with all the necessary information to make a logical decision that best suits you and your family. You should never feel pressured to pre-pay. It's about having the choice and ensuring your preferences are documented.

 05  Why Pay Now, I Have Plenty of Life Insurance?

While life insurance can cover funeral expenses, it may not always be the most convenient option. Most funeral homes require payment in full at the conclusion of the "At-Need" arrangement conference, which can put a financial burden on your family. Also, making an insurance death claim with a traditional life policy can be time-consuming. The paperwork processing and payout may take weeks or even months. This extended waiting period can add stress, especially if a credit card was used for the arrangements. Some funeral homes may offer an "Insurance Assignment" service, but it might involve additional fees. Life insurance should primarily protect your family's financial responsibilities and is not a guaranteed method of pre-funding your funeral.


 06  What Is the Best Way to Pay in Advance?

Our goal is to ensure you don't overspend while pre-funding your funeral plan. After our initial conversation, we provide choices of specialized funding plans based on your preferences. We work with multiple insurance companies and use specific insurance products that best meet your needs. We prioritize your interests over ours. Think of it as choosing a specialist over a friend who took an automotive class. We understand the funeral industry inside and out, working directly with select funeral homes to ensure you don't overspend. We present funding options like "Pre-Need," "Funeral Trust," or "Funeral Estate Trust" insurance products, each with unique features such as guaranteed issue, fast payout, protection from creditors, probate, lawsuits, and Medicaid, and portability to any funeral home.


 07  Why Choose Pre-Need Insurance?

Pre-Need Insurance is a specialized whole life insurance policy designed to fund your final wishes. It offers a "guaranteed price" protected funeral contract with your preferred funeral home provider, ensuring that you lock in today's prices for future services. With minimal underwriting and guaranteed issue, it's often referred to as true burial insurance. You can choose convenient payment plans, and the policy can be made irrevocable, offering up to $24,999 in most states.


 08  What Is a Funeral Trust?

A Funeral Trust is irrevocable and provides immediate Medicaid exemption, typically not subject to the "5-year" lookback period. It allows you to set aside up to $15,000 (Permanent Savings Account) specifically for funeral expenses. You can make a single payment up to age 99, with some age restrictions after age 95. If Medicaid isn't involved, any unused funds can go to your estate. If Medicaid is involved, Medicaid has the right of recovery. This trust is suitable for families seeking simplicity and ease in their pre-funding arrangements.

 09  What Is a Funeral Estate Trust?

A Funeral Estate Trust is an excellent choice for individuals looking to protect their financial assets and pass on a legacy to family members. It safeguards your financial assets from Medicaid if established for at least five years. With guaranteed issue up to age 99 and no underwriting required, the policy amount can range from $2,000 to $100,000. It offers a single payment option and tax-exempt proceeds. Many clients fund this trust using existing funds like savings, POD accounts, or Certificates of Deposits set aside for their final wishes, eliminating the need for attorney fees.


 10  How Should I Make Major Purchases or Insurance Decisions?

It's essential to make major purchases or insurance decisions in person rather than relying on a call center from a TV advertisement. Personal attention and answers from a specialized representative can provide you with the confidence you need to make informed choices. Your decisions should align with your unique circumstances and preferences.


 11  Is This a Good Investment According to Financial Advisors?

The evaluation of whether pre-funding funeral plans are a good investment, according to financial advisors, varies. These plans aren't traditional investments in the sense of growing your wealth; they're financial tools for protecting your family from the financial burden of funeral expenses and ensuring your final wishes are carried out.


Many financial advisors agree that pre-funding funeral plans can be a smart decision, especially when they are insurance-funded or utilize trusts. These plans provide predictability as you lock in today's prices, protect your assets, and may qualify for Medicaid exemptions. They can also be seen as a form of estate planning, safeguarding your assets and making sure they go where you intend.


However, it's essential to work with financial advisors and professionals who understand your unique financial situation. Pre-funding funeral plans should be just one part of your overall financial strategy, which includes retirement planning, investments, and more. Always consult with your financial advisor to ensure that these plans align with your financial goals.


 12  What If I Change My Mind After Pre-Planning?

Changing your mind after pre-planning is a valid concern, and it's essential to know that you have options. If your circumstances or preferences change, you can make adjustments to your pre-planned arrangements.

You can typically make changes to your pre-planned funeral services, such as choosing a different type of service, casket, or urn. These changes may affect the overall cost, and any payments made will be adjusted accordingly.


If you decide to cancel your pre-planned arrangements altogether, you can typically receive a refund of the funds you've paid into the plan. However, there may be cancellation fees or administrative charges, so it's essential to review the terms and conditions of your pre-planning contract.


It's a good practice to communicate any changes or concerns with your chosen funeral home or pre-planning provider as soon as possible. They can guide you through the process of modifying or canceling your arrangements, ensuring that your wishes continue to align with your current circumstances.

 13  Social Security's Contribution to Funeral Expenses?

Unfortunately, Social Security does not cover the full cost of a funeral. Their death benefit consists of a one-time lump sum payment of $255, which falls far short of the average funeral cost, exceeding $8000. This benefit may be paid to a surviving spouse or child, but eligibility criteria must be met. The funeral home typically reports the deceased person's death to Social Security if they have the deceased's Social Security number, but the funeral home cannot apply for the benefit on behalf of the survivor. The eligible survivor must independently apply for their own benefit.




 14  Portability of Your Pre-Need Plan?

We live in a mobile society, and circumstances can change. You might relocate, the funeral home you initially chose could close or change ownership, or you may have a change of heart and prefer another funeral home. In some unfortunate cases, a death might occur during a business trip or vacation.


Our pre-need plans are "insurance funded." This means you are paying the insurance company, not the funeral home directly. Your funds are 100% portable and protected. Regardless of what happens—whether you move, your chosen funeral home goes out of business, or new ownership takes over—the money in your plan remains accessible and can be used at any funeral home. Some funeral homes will even honor the plan "as-written" without any price adjustments.


It's essential to note that not all funeral homes offer insurance-funded plans; some may have their own "trust" products. With these trust plans, you pay the funeral home directly, and the funds are placed into their trust account, which they manage. Consequently, if you relocate, the funeral home may retain a portion of your funds held in trust, often around 15%.

Many legal and financial professionals, especially those serving older individuals, advise against entrusting funeral homes to manage your funeral funds. We recommend that you inquire about the funding type when purchasing your pre-need plan and prefer insurance-funded plans, which are widely accepted by the funeral homes we serve.


15  What If I Donate My Body to Science?

Ah, the noble act of donating your body to science – truly commendable! But here's a little insider info: let's call that your Plan "A." Once the scientists have done their thing, they usually cremate what's left. However, here's the plot twist – not everyone gets accepted into these programs, and it's not available in all states. Imagine you're away from home when the unexpected happens; donation might not be an option. That's where we say, "Let's have a Plan B, just in case."


What's Plan B, you ask? Well, it's a simple cremation plan, a safety net for those 'just in case' moments. So, ideally, your wishes get honored, and you're accepted by the donor organization. If that happens, and you've got one of the insurances we talked about earlier, the proceeds go to your estate or your chosen beneficiary. No extra charges for services not performed by the funeral home – we're here to keep things smooth and sensible.


Remember, even Science Care had to take precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They deferred donors with known or uncertain risks. So, while Plan A is fantastic, having a Plan B ensures peace of mind, knowing that your final wishes will be respected, no matter what the circumstances. That's the kind of preparation that truly makes a difference.


 16  Pre-Planning Without Visiting the Funeral Home?

No, visiting a funeral home for pre-planning is not a requirement. We understand that for many people, the thought of visiting a funeral home in advance can be uncomfortable. Some individuals may have limited mobility or health concerns that make it challenging to do so.


Pre-planning is a deeply personal decision, and your comfort matters. Many people prefer the convenience and familiarity of their own home when discussing their end-of-life arrangements. In-home meetings can accommodate multiple family members or be scheduled after regular business hours to suit your needs. Our pre-need representatives are more than willing to come to you, and we find it quite enjoyable. It provides us with valuable insights into your preferences and allows for the sharing of photos, collectibles, stories, and hobbies.


Additionally, we offer the flexibility of conducting pre-planning appointments over the phone or through online video conferencing, although it's not our preferred method due to the reduced personal connection.

While pre-planning without visiting the funeral home is an option, we still encourage you to consider coming in for a fact-finding appointment. Touring our facilities, meeting our staff, and seeing our environment firsthand can provide added comfort and peace of mind during this process.


 17  Having a Will.

Having a will is commendable, as not everyone takes this step (only about one in 35 people do). It demonstrates your foresight in planning for the future. However, having a will is not always sufficient.


Wills often remain locked away in bank deposit boxes or with attorneys and may not be read until estate matters are being settled, which can take weeks. Unfortunately, when a death occurs, decisions often need to be made immediately. That's where completing our Planning Guide document becomes invaluable.


Pre-planning ensures that vital information is readily available at the funeral home, eliminating guesswork and ensuring your wishes are carried out promptly.

 18  It’s All Taken Care Of?

Congratulations on thinking ahead, as many families haven't even started considering their end-of-life plans. However, it's essential to explore this statement further. Often, when we hear this, it turns out that only some aspects have been addressed.

For instance, a family may have purchased a cemetery plot but nothing else. Just as in Scott's experience with his own family, it's crucial to have a comprehensive plan in place.

We can work together to ensure that all details are thoroughly documented. Even if a family has made arrangements with a funeral home in the past, we can review their final wishes to ensure everything is up to date and accurately recorded.

Pre-planning helps avoid last-minute decisions and ensures that your wishes are respected.


 19  I Don’t Need a Funeral, Just…

It's not uncommon to hear comments like "Let the State pay for it," "Throw me in a box and bury me somewhere," or "Burn me," especially from men. These statements often stem from a desire not to burden loved ones with elaborate arrangements. However, it's essential to consider the emotional needs of the family left behind.


While simplicity is a valid preference, it's important to remember that most families require closure after losing a loved one. Closure can take various forms, from a traditional funeral service to a memorial or a simple celebration of life.


Regarding the idea of letting the State cover the expenses, government assistance for funeral costs is typically reserved for truly indigent individuals, and it usually involves assessing the financial resources of surviving family members. Not all states offer such assistance, and the benefits may be limited, often tied to Medicaid eligibility and the absence of assets.


If you prefer a simple arrangement, consider pre-planning to ensure your wishes are respected while minimizing the potential for emotional overspending.


 20  What If I am Away from Home and I Die?

In the unfortunate event that a loved one unexpectedly dies away from home, your family may not know what steps to take. Many pre-need funeral plans include a "death away from home" rider, offering a supplemental monetary benefit designed to transport the deceased back to their home of record. Typically, this rider is included "free" in the pre-need plan if the policy's face amount meets a specific dollar threshold, often $2000, with a benefit of $500 toward transportation costs.


For those who do not have a pre-need plan, an alternative option is available called the "Go Anywhere" coverage plan. This plan applies when death occurs 75 miles or more away from home, whether due to travel for vacation, business, medical appointments, or a weekend getaway. It's essential to understand that this plan is not insurance but rather a "Lifetime membership" that can be purchased for a one-time fee. It provides the means to return the deceased to a funeral home near their home of record or allows for cremation in place of shipping the body. This plan can potentially save the family thousands of dollars in case of an unexpected event.


When a funeral home needs to transport a body to another location, various costs are incurred, including preparation costs, airline fees for the shipping funeral home, and additional fees for the receiving funeral home. These extra expenses can accumulate into several thousands of dollars, which are often not covered by pre-need plans due to the assumption that such situations won't occur.

21  My Family Knows What I Want.

Many pre-need specialists often hear variations of the statement, "My wife/husband/kids know what I want." However, when questioned further, it becomes apparent that these wishes are not in writing, essentially amounting to hopeful wishes rather than a concrete plan. This common scenario can lead to complications and disagreements among family members during the arrangement conference, where differing interpretations of your wishes emerge. While not every family experiences such conflicts, they can arise and result in feuding simply because your final wishes were not documented.


Another situation that pre-need specialists encounter, albeit easier to address, occurs during pre-need conferences with couples. When asked whether they are considering cremation or burial, the moment when they provide different answers signifies the need for a more in-depth conversation and proper documentation of their wishes.


The significance of having your wishes documented and kept up to date cannot be overstated. If you are married, it's essential to consider what might happen if a tragic event affects both you and your spouse simultaneously. Do you frequently travel together, drive in the same car, or take separate vacations? While these scenarios may be uncomfortable to contemplate, it's crucial to acknowledge that unexpected events can occur.


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