Advanced Funeral Planning Tips Every Baby Boomer Needs

Jul 20, 2022 | 0 comments

Few baby boomers are prepared for their own funerals. Even though humans have a 100% mortality rate, less than 30% of adults do advance funeral planning. But here’s a secret: you don’t have to spend your children’s inheritance on a funeral. Here are some helpful tips about advanced funeral planning.

As The Doyenne of Death®, I’m always encouraging people to plan for this guaranteed inevitability. While I had put my wishes on file with a funeral home and got a price quote back in 2015, my husband and I didn’t pay for those arrangements at the time. In 2022, I finally decided to go ahead with finalizing and paying for our funerals.What do you need to know before you go to a funeral home to pre-plan for your own eventual demise? We’ll cover these three tips:

Tip #1 – Know Your Preferences

Before going to plan your arrangements, be educated about what you want and how to get it!

If you want green burial or an outside-the-box send off, be prepared to advocate for your choices. Both my husband and I chose wicker caskets for our burials. The funeral home had them as a choice when we first put our wishes on file in 2015. But the preneed salesperson (not a funeral director), only offered simple wooden caskets for our Jewish burial preferences.

wicker casket in nature

Biodegradable coffin from Passages International.

I walked from the arrangement room to the display room down the hall and pointed out several urns by green burial product provider Passages International. Their catalogue was in the display room. We were able to get the eco-friendly basket caskets in the catalogue because we knew what we wanted and who provided those products. Do your research before visiting the funeral home!

The preneed salesperson (who had less than a year of experience) was not well versed in Jewish funeral traditions. Jewish burial is naturally green burial, using biodegradable caskets and avoiding embalming. The salesperson said if we weren’t embalmed, we could only have a graveside funeral. This is not true! My husband’s father’s funeral was held at the synagogue, with a closed casket, which is the tradition. After consulting with a funeral director, the preneed salesperson was set straight. It’s okay to have a closed casket funeral without embalming (just no viewing). It helps to know your religion’s funeral traditions and state’s embalming rules.

Tip #2 – Preplanning Isn’t the Same as Prepaying

You can put your vital information and choices on file with a funeral and not prepay. It’s good to have the details for a death certificate and your choices already noted. As the preneed salesperson pointed out, however, the cost of goods and services will increase over the years.

If you prepay with an insurance policy, it guarantees and “locks in” today’s prices for the costs that the funeral home controls. This includes their service fees, casket and embalming costs, memorial printing packages, and so forth. However, outside costs like obituaries, motorcycle escorts for funeral processions, and taxes are not guaranteed. Those will continue to go up.

When the funeral plans are finalized, tweaks made to the plans can result in money being returned to the family, or more money may need to be paid.

Tip #3 – You Don’t Have to Pay Everything Upfront

When you make funeral arrangements in advance, in most states, you don’t give your money directly to the funeral home. You buy an insurance policy that you own, with the funeral home as the beneficiary. Some states have funeral trust funds to keep consumers’ money safe. With insurance or a trust fund, if the funeral home goes out of business or is sold to another company, don’t lose your money.

When making preneed financing arrangements with insurance, you may be offered payment options, stretching from three to 20 years. If you are healthy and die before paying off the policy, it will cover the entire cost. If you have health issues, you may be issued a graded policy which will only cover the amount of money you’ve paid toward the policy. The rest would have to be paid upon the death of the insured.

However, financing charges over time will add to the total cost of the funeral arrangements, negating your preplanning cost-saving efforts. Payments of a few hundred dollars a month can add thousands to the overall cost. We were offered the option to pay the balance in 90 days, same as cash.

Should you move to another market, your insurance policy is portable. The money can be used to pay another funeral home, although you lose the benefit of “locking in” today’s prices with the original funeral home. If your money is held in a state’s funeral trust fund, you should be able to get your money back with interest.

In Conclusion:

While I have advocated preplanning your funeral for years, I finally took my own advice and committed funding for myself and my husband. It was actually fun to do this while we are healthy and active – no death staring us in the face. If we can do this and live to talk about it, you can too.

The moral here is that you can be prepared for your own funeral without having to spend your children’s inheritance. You can reduce stress and conflict, save money, and help your loved ones hold a “good goodbye.”

If you’re serious about taking care of business (like Elvis), visit several funeral homes and shop BEFORE you drop. Learn more about what you need to know before you go by visiting and download a free planning form, or purchase a copy of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die.

P.S. At 3:26 a.m. today, I got a follow-up email from the insurance company with some extra tips. Someone is working too much overtime! More likely it’s an auto-responder email. Their tips include:

  1. Make sure you provide copies of your plans to at least two emergency contacts. It is important to inform at least two other individuals including your next of kin about the plans you have made. Provide them with a copy of your plans and the name of our funeral home. We will be pleased to assist you with this. Also, if you haven’t already, please let us know who your emergency contacts are so that we can record it in our files. For your convenience, we can send you a copy of your plans at any time.
  2. Consider other estate planning tools. If you are interested in learning more about other advance planning resources, we can recommend a reputable and knowledgeable attorney who specializes in wills, trusts, powers of attorney, Medicaid qualification, and advance healthcare directives.
  3. Update your plans as needed. We know that circumstances change, and occasionally, you may wish to update or revise your plans. If you would like to make any changes or additions, simply give us a call.
  4. Prepare a contacts list for your next of kin.  If you have not done this already, it might be a good idea to provide your next of kin with a list of names and phone numbers of people they may not know, such as childhood friends, distant relatives, fellow church members, employers, and co-workers.
  5. Share your experience! Many people don’t know that it is possible to make arrangements ahead of time and alleviate some of the burden that falls on loved ones at a time of loss. That being said, we would love to assist anyone who is a friend of yours! If you know someone who would benefit from this information, please let them know that we are here to help.
Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist

Death Cafe host Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®

Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist and The Doyenne of Death®, is a pioneering death educator who uses humor, film clips and outside-the-box activities to get people to prepare for end-of-life issues. She’s the author of three books on planning for our guaranteed mortality, creator of The Newly-Dead Game®, and will release the Before I Die Festival in a Box® in fall of 2022. Subscribe to her podcast, The Doyenne of Death®.

A Good Goodbye