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In 2016, over 50% of all funerals were cremations and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.

As a result, it has become important to appreciate the nature of pre-arranged cremation. A secure prepaid cremation has become an option for thousands of people and is now well-regarded as a legitimate option. For those on the fence about making a decision, it’s best to look at the pros and cons of this option.

Is it a viable choice or does it come with a unique set of risks?

All of these questions will be answered in this in-depth analysis of cremation pre-planning and their legitimacy.

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What is Prepaid Cremation?

A prepaid cremation is a form of agreement between two parties regarding the client’s cremation. It includes an iron-clad contract with a built-in funding mechanism as established by state regulations.


According to state rules,

The provider has to establish a state-regulated trust to hold the payment until this service is executed post-death. This is written into the contract and ensures both parties are on the same page moving forward. Once the contract is authorized, it will be processed at the time of death without any additional costs to the survivor.

How to Plan for a Prearranged Cremation

If you decide cremation preplanning is suitable for you and your family, use these simple steps to arrange it.

Discuss your plans with loved ones

Before you make arrangements for your cremation, talk to your loved ones, especially those that will be in charge of your estate when you’re gone. While the choice is yours how you want your end-of-life to go, your loved ones should be on the same page.

Talk to them about what you want, where you want it to take place, and any other details you want covering. While they don’t have to agree with what you’ve decided, they should be on the same page, so you know your final wishes will be honored.

Research Cremation Providers Near You

A quick search online for ‘prepaid cremation near me’ will tell you where you can go for prepaid cremation. Not all cremation providers allow it. Start with this list and work your way down it, comparing things like:

  • Services offered
  • Prices
  • Online reviews
  • Refund policies

Compare your options and decide which provider suits your needs the most, including your loved ones, in on the decision.

Read the contract

older person about to sign a paper

Before you accept a contract, read the fine print. Know the details of the terms of service and how your loved ones follow through on the contract when you die. Negotiate any terms you don’t like and make sure everyone is on the same page before signing on the dotted line.

Finalize your end-of-life plan

Cremation preplanning isn’t practical if you don’t include it in your end-of-life plan. It’s a good idea to give everyone with a say in your final wishes a copy of your prepaid cremation contract, but also include it in your end-of-life documents. Include as much detail in your plan as possible, including the name of the cremation provider, services paid for, and what they should expect based on what you worked out with the provider.

Pros of Prepaid Cremation

1) Reduces Survivor’s Burden

Most clients wish to reduce the pressure placed on their loved ones post-death and wish to handle this beforehand. This includes the logistics and financial details associated with the cremation process.

2) Helps Manage Funeral-Related Costs

Funeral-related costs can be taxing on the mind and that is one of the worries a client will have before signing on the dotted line. The prepaid cremation provides a simple way to pay off these expenses before death and make sure the process goes ahead as planned. In essence, it’s done to keep things simple for family and friends.

3) Follows Your Specific Requests

Each client is going to have unique requests when it comes to the process (i.e. the location of cremation, timing) and it’s best to have all of this taken care of in advance. They are able to handle all of these requirements in advance and feel confident in how they will be managed.

4) No Qualification Barriers

One of the biggest advantages a client will notice is the lack of barriers to signing up. Unlike life insurance, prepaid cremation services will not place restrictions on who can sign up. Anyone can put their name on the paper and get the logistics worked out quickly.

Cons of Prepaid Cremation

1) Scammers Do Exist

Be Aware of Scammer

It’s important to note while the idea is unique, it does come along with those looking to scam innocent clients. They will provide all of the paperwork and then refuse to follow through on their promise at the time of death. This is a real challenge and it’s best to go with those reputable in the industry such as AARP prepaid cremation policy or Nationwide and have a good track record behind them. If not, this is never a risk worth taking as it will place additional stress on family and friends.

2) Requires a Second Party (Survivor)

One of the cons people associated with a prepaid plan is the necessity of a loved one (i.e. person holding the contract). If there is no one to execute the contract then it is very easy for the process to be side-swept or poorly managed. This is why it’s important to bring everyone together while this is being done and ensure a responsible party is given these documents immediately.

3) Not a Financially Prudent Decision

Just like anything, this is a financial decision and it has to be managed as a sunk cost. It is not going to hold any value in a person’s life and is a post-death expense. This is why it has to be managed as a sunk cost and that is a risk people take when they put their funds into a prepaid cremation plan. If that’s okay then it’s a good deal but it is a budgeting decision that has to be made with patience.

Types of Cremation Services

Before you prepay for your cremation, you should understand the different services available.

  • Direct cremation – This is the least expensive option. There isn’t a casket or viewing. Your body is sent directly for cremation and then given to the family.
  • Memorial service – After cremation, your loved ones can have a memorial service to remember your life. The ashes may or may not be present (it’s your option), and the service can take place at a church, funeral parlor, or even a loved one’s home.
  • Funeral with viewing – If you prefer for your loved ones to have closure and be able to say their goodbyes, you can arrange for a funeral with a viewing first and then cremation afterward. The viewing usually takes place at a funeral home with a casket, and the funeral takes place either at the funeral home or a place of worship.

How Much Does Prepaid Cremation Cost?

The cost of cremation varies by area and services requested. Some providers offer a discount for a pre-arranged cremation because they get the payment upfront at once, in most cases.

On average, cremation services cost from $500 – $5,000, depending on the services you request.

Where To Buy

For those interested in making the investment, it’s important to go with a certified cremation service provider with access to a state-regulated trust. If this “escrow” setup isn’t in place, the service is likely to be fake, scammy, or unprofessional making it a bad option.

Make sure to go with those who have the appropriate credentials and only make use of state-regulated trusts to hold the funds until death.

Mistakes To Avoid (important read for a consumer)

1) Don’t Forget To Compare Plans

According to research, 1 in 4 funerals/cremations are done poorly or unprofessionally without following assumed regulations. As a result, it’s best to compare plans and providers before making a decision one way or the other.


It’s not always about the lowest price as the provider’s reputation is going to matter as well. This is the difference between a good decision and a poor one.

2) Don’t Rely on the Service Provider

Make sure to avoid relying on the service provider to execute a cremation and have it done on time. It’s best to give the paperwork to a responsible loved one and ensure they have the paperwork in hand at the time of death. In fact, it should be given to multiple people. This is a good way to make sure the service provider does follow through on their end of the agreement of the pre-arranged cremation.


Low-Cost Cremation Providers

What if this doesn’t seem like a good idea and appears to be risky? Is there another alternative for those who want to secure their future? The best idea is to go ahead and focus on a low-cost cremation provider and make sure your loved ones are aware of this provider.

It will simplify the process and ensure a prepaid agreement isn’t needed. You can also click here to apply for free burial insurance quotes and compare the price to see if the rate is affordable for you to go ahead and buy a secure plan in this way.


  • Can you prepay for a cremation?

Yes, a client is more than able to prepay for cremation at all eligible service providers. These details can be found through the state’s funeral services or by speaking to specific providers.

  • What is the cheapest way to be cremated?

The cheapest way to be cremated is at a low-cost cremation provider. It’s important to have these comparisons made in advance to make sure the most cost-efficient deal is found as soon as possible.

  • What is the average cost of cremation?

The average cost of a cremation is going to be around $1,100 according to research. This number can vary from state to state.

  • What happens if I prepay for a cremation and then I move?

If a client were to move before passing away, they will have the plan go ahead as written. The costs will be transferable to any other American cremation site as established beforehand.

  • What paperwork is required to prepare for cremation?

In general, the paperwork will be completed by the staff at your selected provider and is signed by both parties. It will include all of the pre-arranged details (i.e. costs, disposition permits, and cremation permits). This will also comprise of the death certificate, which is completed post-death as expected by the state. All of the paperwork is completed based on these regulations and is produced after the cremation is concluded.

Final Thoughts

Please note, this is one of the most important post-death decisions a person can make and it should be done with a lot of thought. If this is a necessary and appropriate investment then take the time to do your research.

By doing this, the right prepaid cremation can be set up for the future.


Meet Mark Orourke, a seasoned funeral insurance expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry (Bachelor in Finance from SDSU, CA). With a passion for helping families prepare for the unexpected, Mark has dedicated his career to providing personalized funeral insurance solutions. Meeting the unique needs of each client is what Mark always prioritizes.