To many, thinking of death is upsetting and stressful, so the idea of planning for it may seem even more hard to fathom. Yet, being prepared and having a plan in place will end up relieving stress for those at the end of life – and their loved ones. Funeral directors can play an important role in helping families by educating them on the importance of preneed planning.

According to a 2021 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), just 36 percent of Americans have talked with or written plans for loved ones about their funeral. It is clear that there needs to be greater awareness around why planning ahead matters.

The Benefits of Preneed Planning

If payment is required, families can pay for funeral products and services in advance, consulting with a funeral provider of their choice (funeral home, cremation center or otherwise). Payments can be made in a one-time payment or in an installment plan. Such planning offers families many benefits. They include:

  • Each funeral home differs in their guarantee policy, but families can rest assured knowing that a majority, if not all, expenses are covered.

  • If prices rise over time, the cost of guaranteed services will be held by the insurance company or trust fund (which is run by the state).

  • Money is placed into what is called a funeral trust, often with a third party.

  • If a service is not guaranteed, the survivors or beneficiaries may be responsible for the difference in cost. Each provider may handle non-guaranteed services differently.

While there are economic benefits to paying ahead of time, know that individuals don't have to pay in order to get their plans on file with a funeral home. If they don’t wish to pay in advance, they can still find comfort knowing the funeral home has everything it needs.

Preneed Planning vs. Final Expense Insurance

Though the two are often confused, there is a difference between preneed planning and final expense insurance.

Preneed planning is purchased from a specific funeral provider for guaranteed services; non-guaranteed services may need to be paid at a later date by a named beneficiary.

Conversely, final expense insurance is purchased not from the provider but from a life insurance company. A person’s beneficiaries receive payout that may be used toward final expenses, but the benefits are flexible and not tied to a specific funeral provider. Money in trust funds isn't tied to a particular funeral home either; the family can go to another home that accepts trust funds as a form of payment in the event of moving or if the funeral home they preplanned with goes out of business.

Preneed Certification

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers deathcare providers training in preneed certification, allowing them to become a certified preplanning consultant. The organization’s Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) program promotes expertise and professionalism in advance funeral planning. By passing the CPC examination, funeral directors demonstrate their knowledge and qualifications of prearrangement standards.

According to the NFDA, “the CPC certification program is not designed to determine who is qualified or who shall engage in advance funeral planning, but rather to promote a level of professionalism, compliance, and ethical service to families that choose to plan and/or fund funerals in advance.”

Developed by the national testing company Employment Research and Development Institute (ERDI), the CPC program is accredited by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP) and most state boards.

Helping Families Help Themselves

When the time comes to deal with end-of-life matters, families will benefit from having a trusted funeral director to help guide them through preneed preparation, so that they can focus not on the stress of planning, but instead on honoring and commemorating their loved one.

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