What Most People Don’t Know About Buying Burial Insurance for Parents

The sandwich generation. They're a whole group who are bringing up children while also caring for their aging parents. It's a demanding—often exhausting—place to find yourself. As parents grow older and become seniors, it can get harder and harder, and those responsible find themselves in need of compassion and support.

Planning things out can be a source of relief for many, and though planning end-of-life details may seem sad, it doesn't have to be. And those who do it usually feel a burden lifted once arrangements—and funds—are in place. Are you considering final expense insurance or funeral insurance for your parents? There are a few things you need to know, keeping in mind that things vary from state to state.

In this article, you will learn about:

What's the difference between burial insurance, life insurance and funeral insurance? How is burial insurance different from a prepaid funeral plan?

Burial insurance, also called final expense insurance, is a life insurance policy that pays a flat amount—typically $5,000 to $25,000—to a chosen beneficiary who uses that money to settle a loved one's final expenses. If a parent has burial or final expense insurance, you can use the benefit for funeral and burial costs, medical bills, credit card debt and other expenses.

Burial insurance for parents is a good idea—but there's something even better.

What most people don't know about burial insurance is that it's a half-step. It won't ensure that you will have money to pay for your parent's funeral at the time it is needed. It doesn't protect against inflation. And it doesn't begin to protect children from the emotional burden of decision making when a parent passes.

However, a prepaid funeral plan does all three. It also allows your parents to outline their final wishes, which can be as general or as detailed as they want. Your mother may say that she'd like a church service with yellow roses and a reception at your home. Your father may specify everything from pallbearers to songs to who should speak and when.

Have a look at the chart below and read Prepaid Funeral Plans vs. Funeral Insurance vs. Life Insurance for more.

Final expense insurance (also burial insurance or funeral insurance) Prepaid funeral plan
Amount Typically $5,000-$25,000 You and your parent decide. The average funeral in 2019 was around $9,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Benefit paid to You or another beneficiary The funeral home or cremation provider of your/your parent's choice, ensuring the money will be there when it's needed
Benefit used for Whatever the beneficiary chooses, typically funeral arrangements and medical bills Goods and services purchased ahead of time from the funeral home
Requirements to qualify Health questions but no medical exam None
Final expenses are covered at the time of need. No Yes
Payout in time to cover funeral expenses No Yes
Who makes arrangements The beneficiary must choose the type of funeral service, casket or urn, etc. during a challenging time. You and your parent work with the funeral home to prearrange the details for the funeral or cremation; loved ones do not have to plan anything when your parent passes.

Can I buy a prepaid funeral plan for my parents?

Your first question about buying final expense insurance or a prepaid funeral plan for a parent might be, Can you even do that? The answer is yes. You can purchase final expense insurance or a prepaid funeral plan for your mom or dad as long as you sign the contract and are listed as the purchaser/payer.

When you purchase a prepaid funeral plan, your monthly payments are placed safely with an insurance company or into a trust. When your mom or dad passes, those funds are paid directly to the selected funeral home or cremation provider, which will follow the detailed instructions outlined when you purchased the plan. That way, when the time comes, you don't have to worry about getting it right—or about how you will pay for the kind of memorial your parent wanted.

Find out what's covered by a prepaid funeral plan.

Age and health considerations for burial insurance or a prepaid funeral plan

Is there a right age at which to purchase burial insurance? Have you waited too long—until your parent's health has declined too much—for your parent to qualify? If you're considering burial insurance for a senior parent, you likely have many questions.

Anyone at any age can qualify for burial insurance. Cost depends on a person's age, gender, health and preferred coverage. When a buyer chooses a coverage amount, they make the best guess at what family members will need to cover final expenses. There's no medical exam required for parents 85 years old or younger, and applicants are insured after answering only a few health questions.

Anyone at any age is also welcome to purchase a prepaid funeral plan. There's no age limit, and there is no medical exam or health questions to answer. Even a loved one with a terminal diagnosis or in long-term acute care qualifies for a prepaid funeral plan—and no one pays more just because of his or her age.

There's also no need to guess how much the benefit should be when purchasing a prepaid funeral plan. With a prepaid funeral plan, your parent will choose the goods and services for his or her funeral or memorial, and you pay only for what's needed to fulfill your parent's end-of-life wishes. Plus, with a guaranteed prepaid funeral plan from a Dignity Memorial provider, you lock in today's prices and won't pay more for certain items—even if your mom or dad celebrates another 20 happy birthdays.

Ready to get started?

Speak with a Dignity Memorial planning advisor today.

Talking with your parents about funeral planning

We plan ahead for big events throughout our years, but some of us clam up when it comes to talking about funeral arrangements. It's natural to find emotional conversations challenging, and if your mom or dad resists the topic, be understanding. If you have siblings, try to get them involved in the effort as well. Don't think of it as ganging up on your parent—think of it as loving them from all directions.

There are many different ways to begin the conversation, and you may find that it takes several attempts to find the best way to get your parent to respond. If your family has a long history of family meetings, try setting a time and date. That won't be right for every family, and others might find that watching a movie with funeral scenes is a better entry point or that talking about funeral planning soon after attending that of a friend is the way to go.

Some adult children have planted the idea of planning by sharing the Dignity Memorial Imagine book. It's a beautiful book designed to inspire a conversation about a celebration of life, and it can ease a parent into thinking about how he or she wishes to be remembered.

Imagine book

Imagine funeral planning differently

A funeral or memorial service should be a one-of-a-kind celebration. Everyone has their own unique story. How do you want to tell yours? Imagine is a book full of ideas for creating a beautiful and unforgettable remembrance for yourself or a loved one. Download Imagine to begin planning an unforgettable tribute today.

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Whatever your approach, be compassionate and take time in advance to think about how your parent may respond and how you can help ease the discomfort. Here are a few questions to help open a discussion and make it easier for your parent to share his or her wishes:

  • “Have you ever thought about how you would like to be remembered?”
  • “Do you have a favorite song, scripture or poem?”
  • “If you were to write your own eulogy, how would it start?”
  • “What type of funeral would you like to have?”

If it’s likely that your parent will pass away soon, intense emotions may make the conversation difficult for you, too. Give yourself and your parent the time and space to feel all your feelings. Actively listen to understand, ask good questions and remember that planning a funeral in advance is an act of love.

Learn more about how to have the conversation.

A prepaid funeral plan is a good idea for parents.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median funeral cost in the United States in 2019 ranged from $6,645 for a cremation with a viewing and memorial service to $9,135 for a funeral with a viewing, service and vault. When cemetery costs are factored in, the total median cost of a funeral can exceed $10,000. Even simple cremations with no service can exceed the savings a family has on hand—which is why it's important to plan and fund that plan in advance.

Both burial insurance and prepaid funeral plans allow you to make a one-time payment or make monthly premiums—usually three to 10 years. Affordable monthly payment plans make it easy to budget for a parent's final expenses. Payment amounts differ based on terms, funeral wishes and age. We break it all down in detail in How to Pay for a Funeral on an Installment Plan.

How do I go about buying a prepaid funeral plan?

Once you have talked with your parents and the family is ready, you'll want to find a reputable company with which to work.

Most funeral homes and cremation providers in the United States and Canada sell prepaid funeral plans. A licensed funeral director or other planning professional can guide your family through the many decisions about final arrangements. Families consistently give our Dignity Memorial providers five-star ratings for exceptional care. The Dignity Difference includes relocation protection, lifetime flexibility, bereavement travel assistance and a satisfaction guarantee.

In addition, most insurance companies sell burial insurance or final expense insurance for parents. Look for a company with an A++, A+, A or A- rating from AM Best. These ratings identify the top insurance companies, indicating that a company can keep policies secure. Dignity Memorial providers offer burial plans through American Memorial Life Insurance.

Read 6 Myths—and the Truth—About Prepaid Funeral Plans.

Plan with us

As North America’s trusted provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, Dignity Memorial cares for thousands of families each year. We’ve helped generations of customers create memorials that truly celebrate the lives of their loved ones—but we do more than that.

When you choose Dignity Memorial, you’re choosing a provider defined by professionalism, compassion and attention to detail that is second to none. Dignity Memorial professionals understand that attention to even the smallest details can help create an unforgettable send-off.

Our caring staff also understands the funeral and burial customs of many faiths and cultures, and can help plan a special and fitting tribute to honor those beliefs. From a traditional funeral service to a celebration of life, we'll guide you through the arrangement process and vow to get everything exactly right.

We stand behind that promise with a 100% service guarantee.

Learn more about the Dignity Difference and then get in touch. We offer in-person and virtual planning appointments to get to know you and your parents and to explain more about what you need to understand to make decisions with your parents about final arrangements.