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Funerals 101

Summary

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Planning your own funeral will save your heirs unnecessary expense and anxiety at a particularly bad time in their lives. The cost savings comes from a combination of several factors including:

  • When it comes to funerals, people seldom shop around
  • Survivors tend to equate dollars spent with respect paid 
  • During a highly emotional time, people are subjected to the sales tactics of salespeople  who give themselves titles such as "Funeral Director."

Before you can plan a funeral, it is necessary to understand the basics -- including the reason for planning, the legal protections available, types of funerals, common products, available benefits and the tax situation.

As you will see, while pre-planning is recommended, pre-paying is not.

When planning, keep in mind that many of the cultural aspects of funerals have been imposed by the funeral industry.

More and more people are considering cremation. It is a much less expensive alternative to a so-called "traditional" funeral. Cremation eliminates the three most expensive parts of a funeral: the casket, embalming, and the cemetery plot.  

It is helpful to know that, contrary to what the funeral industry has taught us to expect, in most states your loved ones can handle all funeral and burial details without use of a funeral home.

There are a variety of benefits which may help pay for your funeral and/or cemetery plot.

Funeral expenses are not deductible for income tax purposes. However, funeral expenses can be used to reduce the taxable amount of your estate.

Each of these subjects are discussed in the following:


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