How Do Prepaid Funeral Plans Work?

Published: December 21, 2021




Prepaid funeral and cemetery plans combine two topics we all typically try to avoid discussing: finances and death. If you don't consider how these issues intersect, however, you could leave your family with a considerable financial hardship that can be easily avoided.

Grieving while also facing costs they may not be prepared for can be an incredible strain on loved ones—but having a prepaid funeral plan helps to ease at least one of those burdens.

Prepaid funeral plans are a good choice for people who want the peace of mind that comes with knowing their families will not be unnecessarily burdened financially or emotionally when they pass away. They also allow you to specify every detail of your wishes, right down to music, flowers and favors, which ensures that your funeral, memorial or celebration of life is exactly the way you want it.

In this article, you will learn the answers to the following questions:

How do prepaid funeral plans work? Which arrangements you can make? What expenses are covered by a prepaid funeral plan? What's not covered by a prepaid funeral plan? How can you pay for a funeral in advance? And if prepaid funeral expenses are tax deductible?

How prepaid funeral plans work

Unlike final expense insurance, when you make a prepaid funeral plan, you specify your final wishes in advance and lock in today's prices on funeral goods and services. This approach offers both financial and emotional protection to loved ones, allowing them to focus on their grief at the time of your passing. Adult children often tell us this is one of the best gifts they ever received from their parents.

There are five simple steps to making a prepaid funeral plan:

Think about your wishes. Would you like a traditional funeral or celebration of life? A cremation with ash scattering in a special place, cremation with burial, or traditional burial? There are many decisions to be made, and the choices you make will impact the final cost.

Our Personal Online Planning Guide can help you understand and document your wishes. Go to the online guide now at:

Pre-Arrangements Form | Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home | Valley AL funeral home and cremation (

Have the conversation with your spouse. Married couples most often want to make their plans together. But sometimes one partner is more ready to make these decisions than another. Here are some tips on how to have the conversation about your wishes after death.  There are many different ways to begin the conversation. You know your family members and how they might respond best to the topic. For some families, it might be a casual conversation over dinner or after watching a movie with funeral scenes. For others, a formal meeting might be a better way to approach the subject. When talking about funeral wishes with your loved ones, take some time to think about how they may respond and how your approach can help ease their initial discomfort about the topic of dying.

If you’re discussing funeral arrangements well in advance, try easing into the conversation. Questions like these may open the discussion and make it easier for your loved ones to share their wishes:

“Have you ever thought about how you would like to be remembered?”

“Do you have a favorite song, scripture or poem?”

“If you were to write your own eulogy, how would it start?”

“What type of funeral would you like to have?”

If it’s likely that your family member will be passing away soon, intense emotions and fear of the upcoming loss may make the conversation more difficult. In these situations, it’s important not to rush the conversation or minimize the emotions of those involved. Even if talking about funeral planning makes you or a loved one uncomfortable, try to continue the conversation by actively listening, rephrasing what you’ve heard them say and asking questions.

But no matter the time or approach, it’s often best to open the conversation by telling loved ones you want to talk about funeral arrangements out of love for them, so the family can honor their wishes and the traditions they care about.

Make an appointment with one of our professional directors.  We offer funeral and cremation preneed planning to our client families. Call to make an appointment today (334)768-2141.

Sign a contract and fund your plan. During your appointment, you will get a clear idea of what your funeral plan will cost, and different ways to fund it, including in a lump sum or with monthly installment payments. When you're ready, our director will create a contract for your signature and you will make your first payment. 

Share your plan with your family. This may be the most important step of all. Your closest loved ones should know you have already made and funded your plan. We will keep a copy, but they should have copies as well, so they know what to do when the inevitable happens. This also gives your loved ones' peace of mind, knowing that you've taken care of these important decisions, so they don't have to.

I loved that my Mother-in-Law had planned and prepaid for most of the service and had given me the business card years earlier. Within hours of her death, I just called the number on the card and was meeting with Wesley the same day. The planning and early appointment really helped ease our concerns over what to do. The entire staff was professional, compassionate, and the experience was seamless.  

—Jane P. -, Arrangements and expenses covered by a prepaid funeral plan

A prepaid funeral plan differs from burial insurance in that it funds specific arrangements in that it funds specific funeral arrangements. Whereas funeral insurance provides the money your family needs to pay for a funeral or cremation, a prepaid funeral plan provides the money and the details of how you want that money allocated.

When you meet with our director, he or she will get to know you. Start by sharing your story, your personality, your passions. You may talk about your religious customs, your family heritage, your culture and your personal preferences. You may already know whether you want a traditional burial or cremation. If it's the latter, you'll decide what type of cremation. Then you'll choose the products and services offered by Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Homes that support that decision:

Service type—a choice of a traditional funeral, a contemporary celebration of life, or a blend of the two. In addition, we will possibly discuss all of the following: visitation, the location(s) or venues, stationery, music, readings, flowers, music, mementos for guests, and keepsakes for family members. You can designate people you'd like to speak, what you'd like written in your obituary, if you'd like people to wear certain clothing (like sports jerseys or your favorite color), transportation (from white limousines to a horse-drawn caisson).  The possibilities are endless.

Pre-planning your funeral gives you the opportunity to get as detailed as you'd like—or you can keep your choices very high level. You may also choose scattering assistance for cremation, and the convenience of Johnson Memorial Gardens behind our facility allows you to explore cemetery options for either cremation or traditional burial.

Keep in mind that the more specific your funeral plan, the fewer decisions your family will have to make, which can be a huge relief for loved ones who are grieving. 

Mom had prepaid everything 24 years ago and they honored everything she paid for without any request for more money and even provided a refund for the obituary that we felt wasn’t necessary.


Prepaid funeral plans typically don't include items the funeral home you're working with doesn't provide and for which prices cannot be locked in. For example, outside cemetery property purchases are handled by your cemetery, which maycharge you for grave opening and closing costs. Working with a combined funeral home and cemetery location like Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home and Johnson Memorial Gardens can make buying cemetery property easier and opening and closing costs can then be included in your plan.

How to pay for a funeral in advance...

The cost of your prepaid funeral plan will depend, of course, on the products and services you choose to include. You can pay the whole amount at once or pay in installments, usually for a set period of time. Payment amounts vary based on your financial needs and service wishes. 

If you choose to make payments, Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Homes secures 100% of your monthly payments with a trust on your behalf. And as with any big purchase, your payments continue until the balance on your plan is zero.  Once the contract is paid in full, your prices are guaranteed until the time of need hedging inflation. 

Irrevocable trust: Families usually designate a trust as irrevocable as a state requirement for Medicare or Medicaid assistance. With this type of trust, you cannot make changes or dissolve the trust without the permission of the trustee. An irrevocable trust cannot be cancelled and the money in the trust cannot be removed. 

Plan a funeral ahead of time...

People plan ahead for many big purchases—weddings, homes, cars, education, vacations. A funeral should be no different. A few reasons to plan ahead: 

A price guarantee protects against rising costs and inflation. Prices for products and services can be locked in at today's rates. When needed at the time of death, your loved ones won't pay extra. You remove a financial and emotional burden from your loved ones. Families tell us that funeral planning can be incredibly overwhelming when grieving, and that having a plan to follow helps.

Affordable monthly payment plans make it easy to budget for final expenses. There are no rushed decisions, and you can learn about your options in a relaxed environment. You give your loved ones the gift of saying goodbye without the extra stress of trying to guess what you would have wanted.

With Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Homes, you can rest assured that your wishes will be carried out as you have scripted, and your money is 100% protected. 

We recognize that funeral arrangements and associated expenses can be overwhelming. By preparing in advance, you provide a sense of relief, peace of mind and comfort for your loved ones while ensuring your wishes are met and your budget is maintained. When you pre-plan a funeral you honor both yourself and your family.

Contact us to speak to a planning professional today. (334)768-2141

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Valley Location
3700 20th Avenue P.O. Box 65
| Valley, AL 36854
Tel: 1-334-768-2141
| Fax: 1-334-768-2107
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610 South 8th Avenue
| Lanett, AL 36863
Tel: 1-334-644-4812

You are welcome to call us any time of the day, any day of the week, for immediate assistance. Or, visit our funeral home in person at your convenience.


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