Funerals are a pricy celebration of life. Honoring the deceased does not come cheap. Even without common after-death expenses such as cemetery costs, markers, flowers, or obituaries, the National Funeral Directors Association puts the average funeral costs at more than $7,000. For many people, after a house and a car, funeral goods and services are the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy.

It’s wise to make a funeral service plan to pay for these costs once you pass away.  You have two basic options for covering your funeral expenses, including the costs of burial or cremation. You can pay in advance or leave enough money for your survivors to pay the bills.  If you don’t do either of these things, your survivors must cover the costs of your funeral arrangements.

If you want to pay for your funeral arrangements ahead of time, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable funeral establishment and clearly document any plans you make, so your survivors can easily carry them out. Though the law requires providers of funeral goods and services to carefully manage your funds (see Chapter 308-49 of the Washington Administrative Code), abuses do happen. What’s more, if a funeral establishment goes out of business, your careful planning may be lost.

The safest and easiest way to cover the costs of your final arrangements is to estimate costs and tuck away the funds in an easily accessible, interest-earning bank account. You can designate a beneficiary who can claim the funds immediately after your death. Make sure the beneficiary understands what the money is for, however, and that you trust him or her completely. The beneficiary is under no legal obligation to use the funds for your final arrangements.

Delegating costs for a funeral may be dreary task, but it’s one that should be done. If your loved one has passed away without any funeral plans, Puget Sound Probates can provide legal services to help you give your loved one a deserved celebration.