If you live in San Diego County you can call us and sign up your loved one as a member of the San Diego Memorial Society. We have 11 contracted mortuaries to choose from. Once the time of death arrives, the mortuary is called, the membership number is given to them, and the discounts are applied. Click here to apply.
What if You’re Not in San Diego County?
That’s great that you want to plan ahead but if you’re not in San Diego you’ll need to do your own shopping. Don’t wait! Once the time of death occurs it’s much more difficult to make decisions and you’ll tend to just go with the first mortuary you call. So shop now around now instead of waiting.
In San Diego, the Memorial Society has 11 contracted mortuaries however they are all in San Diego county. If you’re in LA or Orange County you’ll pay an additional fee for the mileage if one of our mortuaries were to take care of your loved one.
Our suggestion is that you call at least 3 mortuaries in your area. Decide ahead of time with your family whether you want a cremation or a burial. Then ask them what they charge for the complete package. Funeral homes are supposed to have their General Price List (GPL) on their website but many do not.
You will pay extra for the death certificates. In San Diego, they are $21 each. And you’ll pay taxes as well.
When the time of need arrives, you’ll call the mortuary and have no surprises. In addition, you can even pay in advance relieving even more stress. Your money is safe because there is now a state law in California that requires the mortuaries to keep the money in a trust until it is used. That means that if for some reason, you don’t end up using the funeral home, you can get the money back.
NOTE: The most important part of this equation is to tell your family that you have paid in advance. Otherwise, you will almost certainly forfeit that money.
Here’s the Info on Preneed Agreements
From the Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases:
Preneed Trust Contracts — Decide on the funeral and cemetery services you want, sign contracts that fully describe those services, and pay a set amount into a trust administered by the funeral establishment or cemetery. There will usually be some costs that cannot be prepaid. Services such as opening and closing the grave are not usually part of the preneed contract and must be paid at time of need.
(NOTE: Be sure that your contract includes a cancellation clause if you change your mind. Keep in mind that if you cancel a funeral preneed trust, under the law, all the money you paid in must be refunded to you. Most cancellation clauses require a revocation fee, limited by law to no more than 10 percent of the total amount that you have paid in. This revocation fee can only be taken from trust fund earnings.)
Before you choose a preneed trust contract, consider the following:
- Ask for a guaranteed price plan. This protects you and your family from future price increases. Without it, your survivors may have to make up any difference in cost. However, even with a guaranteed price plan, some items or services will probably have to be paid at the time of need. Obtain a written estimate of these additional “at-need” charges so you and your family will know what to expect at the time of need.
- Make sure the funds in your preneed trust increase in value, and find out where the money is being invested and who the trustees are. You may receive an annual statement of earnings, which may have to be reported as interest income on your tax returns. Also, be sure that the plan includes a written provision that states what will happen to any earnings left over after the funeral expenses are paid.
- Find out if you have to pay the entire amount into the trust up front, or if you can pay over time. If you pay over time, ask if interest is being charged and how much. Also, ask if there is a penalty for late payments.
- Ask if your funeral arrangements can be transferred to another funeral establishment or if the cemetery will buy the property back if you move out of the area or change your mind.
- To guarantee prices of cemetery goods, such as a vault or a marker, buy them and have the cemetery store them until they are needed. This is called “constructive delivery.” The law prohibits the constructive delivery of funeral goods. Make sure the purchase contract specifies the manufacturer and model of the items you purchase, as well as any inscriptions and descriptions of the materials used. Obtain in writing the address where the goods are stored.
Saving — Earmark a portion of your savings for funeral expenses and ensure that your family members and attorney are informed and that provisions are made for your survivors to withdraw the funds at your death. You can change your mind at any time.
POD Account – Establish a Pay on Death (POD) Account with your bank, designating the funeral establishment or another person as the beneficiary of funds upon your death. Be sure to inform family members, the funeral establishment, your chosen executor, and your attorney of the provisions of the account. POD accounts may involve service fees, and interest earned is taxable. They may be canceled without penalty.
(NOTE: The funeral establishment is not required to pay any excess funds to your survivors.)
Life Insurance – Buy life insurance equal to the value of the funeral and arrange for your beneficiary (a family member or friend) to handle the arrangements in accordance with your stated wishes.
(NOTE: If the costs of the funeral arrangements exceed the amount of your policy, your survivors will have to make up the difference.)
Funeral Insurance – Buy funeral insurance through the funeral establishment, which becomes your beneficiary. You preselect the casket, services, etc., and the cost may be guaranteed. If the cost is guaranteed, the funeral establishment cannot charge your relatives more than the contract states, even if prices rise. However, it can keep any funds remaining after the arrangements have been carried out.
(NOTE: You should get in writing how much the policy will be worth in one year, two years, five years, and ten years. Find out if you will pay more on the policy over time than the policy will pay out upon your death. Find out what happens if you cancel the policy or fail to make the scheduled payments.)
Funeral establishments and licensed cemeteries must present to the person making funeral arrangements for a deceased person a copy of any preneed agreement in their possession that is signed and paid for in full or in part.
To read more go to https://www.cfb.ca.gov/consumer/funeral.shtml#decide
What Should You Pay?
Depending on what area of the country you are in, Consider paying no more than about $900 for a simple cremation or more than $2000 for an immediate burial with a simple casket. Of course, if you are opting for a burial you’ll also incur the cost of the gravesite plot. (prices as of July 2021)
What about Veteran’s Benefits?
And here is a link that will allow you to read about the Veteran’s benefits.
How to apply for a Veteran’s burial allowance