The Memorial Society, Inc., 66 Marlboro Street, Boston, Mass. 617-859-7990
 

 Pre-Paid Funerals

Is it a good idea to pre-pay my funeral?
The Funeral Consumers Alliance strongly advises people never to pre-pay for a funeral unless they are about to go on Medicaid and assets need to be spent down. Setting aside the funds for a funeral is a good idea, but invest in an interest bearing account yourself. Choose an investment that is safe and one that can be changed or cashed in if your needs change. The interest on your own money in a pay-on-death account at your bank should keep up with inflation and will let you stay in control.

Pre-paid funeral money is not well protected against embezzlement by a funeral home. In addition, if you move, die while traveling or change your mind (from body burial to cremation, for example) you may not get all of your money back or it may not all be transferred to the new funeral home.

For more on paying for a funeral, see FCA's How to Pay for a Funeral, or Other Arrangements.

Regulation of the funeral industry and enforcement status

Pre-paid funerals

There have been quite good regulations since 1992, revised in 2004 and 2017.

1992 Regulations (PDF 839KB)

2004 Regulations (HTML 80KB)

2017 Regulations

Funeral Trusts

Unfortunately the 1992 regulations for Funeral Trusts as to permissible investments and annual reporting  to purchasers have never been enforced except in cases of specific consumer complaints.  The routine inspections of funeral homes concentrated  on whether certain signs were posted, and still does -- see 2004 Priorities (PDF_110KB).

In the summer of 2004 we collected copies of funeral trust contracts from the most active companies.

Cooperative Funeral Fund, Inc.
New England Funeral Trust

Protecting a consumer's right to choose a dignified, meaningful, affordable funeral