Pre-Need Funeral & Burial Contracts – What You Need to Know

Preneed Funeral Contracts - What you need to knowTo obtain a price guarantee, you can enter into a “pre-need contract” with a funeral service provider and/or cemetery. Your funeral plan will be the basis for the pre-need contract which will specify the services and merchandise being purchased. You can contract in advance for some or all of your funeral goods and services.

Many people choose to pre-arrange only their cemetery property — a plot or crypt. Others contract in advance for funeral services, burial services and merchandise (e.g., casket, burial vault, or monument). Be aware that not all contracts provide a price guarantee!

Since funeral directors and cemeterians now offer competing services and merchandise, you may be able to contract for everything from one party. Review the Service Providers section of to learn about the various sources of funeral goods and services.

Generally, to secure the price guarantee, you must fund the contract. Two popular methods of pre-funding are funeral trusts and funeral insurance. By establishing a funeral trust or purchasing funeral insurance, you are placing the funds with a third party (i.e., a trustee or an insurance company) who will manage the money and use it to pay the designated providers at the time of your funeral. You can also make advance payment directly to the provider. These pre-payment options are explained further in the sections below.

Contract Terms — Look Before You Leap!

Carefully review the terms of your pre-need contract. Is it flexible? Can you change the products and services? What happens if you move and want the funeral to be held in another city? Can it be transferred to another funeral director? Will the products be delivered now or at the time of the funeral? What if the merchandise you have selected is no longer available at the time of the funeral? Since caskets and vaults are large items, where will they be stored if they’re delivered in advance? To what extent is the price guaranteed? Can the contract be cancelled?

Be aware that regulations governing the sale of pre-need funeral and burial agreements vary by state and there are significant differences in these state laws. You should consult with a reputable funeral director or cemetarian regarding the applicable laws in your state.


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