Burial Insurance - Advice From a Licensed Funeral Director

by : Jerry R. Guy

As a funeral director I'm often asked by the public, "do I need burial insurance?" My stock reply is the usual, "that depends." I'm not trying to be insensitive or cute with my answer, but the truth is that it does depend on several factors in my opinion, but two most importantly.

I believe two of the most important factors are to consider who will make your final plans first, then how will those plans be funded? Simple questions yes, but among those most of us fail to ask ourselves or give serious thought to.

Choosing a person to handle yourfinal arrangements can be done in reality by doing nothing at all. At your death in most states, lineage will decide who will have right of disposition. If no legal descendants are available to handle this duty most counties, townships and/or states will step in and have the final disposition done. This will usually be a direct burial or cremation as determined by the government body handling it. I recommend avoiding this possibility by selecting a family member or friend to entrust with this duty and to make sure they have the legal documents necessary to abide by your wishes. Also, be sure your chosen administrators will have access to final expense funds. Many problems can be avoided by making sure of this one thing. Tip: Burial insurance will in most cases let you designate the beneficiary. This allows you to make sure specific funeral and burial expense funds are in the control of your chosen administrator.

Secondly, give thought to the funding aspect of your final arrangements. Are you satisfied with your current funding (insurance, savings, etc.) to be sufficient and available when that time comes? Is it possible your current insurance might be needed to settle other expenses such as medical bills, estate taxes, etc.? Are you comfortable that your current insurance or savings will keep pace with funeral inflation costs? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you may want to consider additional insurance specifically for your final expenses. Tip: Burial insurance policies can be issued in small amounts to subsidize your existing insurance or larger amounts to cover total funeral and burial costs. In many cases it is also easier to qualify for in older age groups.

Does everyone need burial insurance? Certainly not, but as a funeral director I can tell you that many families I've assisted were able to honor a loved one's wishes only because that person had a burial insurance policy in force at the time of their death.

Take a few minutes and give this some thought. The attention and consideration you give these matters now will make a tremendous difference for those who eventually will do your final planning.