The Life Transition Blog

The Caregiver’s Last Expense

A recent NYTimes New Old Age blog post regarding funeral expenses offers lots of important information for caregivers performing their "final act" on behalf of their care recipient. While it is always best for the care recipient to make their final wishes known to their caregiver and other loved ones, we all know that this doesn't always happen.

The big debate in the comments to the post is about whether or not prepaid arrangements are a good idea. The post states that AARP and the Funeral Consumer's Alliance both advise against such plans. However, a number of the comments relate stories about why it WAS a good idea for their situations. In fact, the executive director of the FCA actually posted a comment giving their rationale, which is basically that each state has different laws and protections for consumers, and in some cases, when funeral homes or cemetaries are sold, the prepaid plans are not honored. However, he does acknowledge that a prepaid funeral might make sense in the case of a Medicaid spend-down for nursing home care.

One thing that is not covered by either the blog post or the comments is the notion of "pre-planning" vs. "pre-paying". While it might or might not make sense for your care recipient to pre-pay for his funeral arrangements, I can't think of a reason why pre-planning would ever be a bad idea. With pre-planning, the individual gets to decide exactly what he or she wants and that is documented by the funeral home of choice for later reference.
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