You Have Extensive Protections under New York Law When Taking Care of Funeral Plan in Advance
One of the greatest gifts you can give to loved ones after your death is a preplanned and/or prefunded funeral. It should be a time for grieving, free from the worries of what type of service you’ll have, what the interment will look like and where you’ll be buried. With prefunding, you can also eliminate any concerns about the cost of a funeral and burial.
The Benefits of Preplanning Your Funeral and Burial
When you preplan, you’ll have the opportunity to ensure that the memorial service and interment are highly personalized. You can specify where the funeral will take place, who will officiate, who will speak and whether certain services will be private or public. Preplanning allows you to carefully consider burial options and lets family members be involved in the decision-making, if desired. It also alleviates your family and loved ones from trying to determine who to call and what arrangements will be appropriate.
It’s important to understand, though, that a preplanned funeral is not set in stone. You customarily have the right to change your mind, to establish new plans or to revoke the plan at any time before your death.
The Many Good Reasons to Prefund Your Funeral
You can preplan a funeral without prefunding it, but there are significant advantages to paying for your funeral and burial in advance.
- When you set up a plan to pay for funeral and burial expenses in advance, you’ll get an investment that can provide you from some protection from inflation. Interest earned on the funds you have on deposit can help defray any increased costs of the funeral and/or burial (you don’t “lock in” a price, but can have a hedge against inflation).
- Your life insurance policies won’t have to be used to pay funeral and burial expenses, so your beneficiaries will receive the entire death benefit
- Your loved ones won’t have to worry about paying any portion of the funeral or burial out of their own pockets
- If you’re a Medicaid or SSI recipient, you can set aside funds for funeral expenses in a trust, and those funds won’t be considered in the determination of your eligibility for benefits
Your Protections in a Pre-Planned Funeral in New York
New York has long been at the forefront with respect to the protection of consumers who seek to preplan a funeral. Under New York law:
- Anyone inquiring about preplanning a funeral is entitled to a general price list
- Upon entering into a preplanning arrangement, a consumer must have a valid pre-need agreement, which includes an itemized list of all products and services purchased
- All funds put into any preplan remain the property of the consumer
- All funds placed into a preplanning account must be deposited into a trust or financial institution in the United States within 10 business days, and the consumer must be notified of the institution where the deposit is made
- The consumer must be provided with a written statement, at least annually, disclosing all activity in the preplanning account
- A funeral director may not charge a fee for preplanning a funeral
Unless you are a Medicaid recipient, New York preplanning agreement is revocable at any time prior to the death of the consumer, with all funds deposited and interest earned payable to the consumer. If you are receiving Medicaid, you may need to have an irrevocable prearrangement, which can be transferred to another funeral home, but may not be canceled or refunded.
You also have the right, when preplanning your funeral in New York, to designate someone who will have the responsibility for ensuring that your plan is followed. That person must be at least 18 years of age.
Once you have signed a preplanning agreement, you should notify immediate family members what you have done and let them know where all documents related to your preplan are kept. In addition, the executor of your estate and your estate planning lawyer should also be informed. A safety deposit box may not be the best place for such paperwork, unless other family members have access, as it may be sealed upon your death until the probate process is complete.
Comforting Families in New York for More than 100 Years
At Gutterman’s, we understand your needs and concerns after a loved one has died. To get answers to any questions or for compassionate guidance in times of loss, call us at one of the numbers provided below. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.