Frequently Asked Questions

The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (part of the Department of Consumer Affairs) has prepared these questions and answers on advance funeral planning.  For more information contact the manager of Oakwood Memorial Gardens or your local funeral home.

Why Plan a funeral in advance?

By planning in advance, you can make informed choices, compare prices and options, and discuss your preferences with your family. The results can be peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

What options are available?

Options include a traditional funeral service, memorial service, burial, entombment, cremation, scattering of cremains or inurnment, among others. You man also wish to consider organ or tissue donation or donating your body to medical science.  Exploring these options beforehand helps you decide what is best for you and your family.

How do I find a reputable provider of funeral or burial services?

You can ask friends or relatives for referrals, check the Internet or the Yellow Pages, or consult the Better Business Bureau.  In some areas, there are funeral consumer groups or organizations that offer help and guidance.  The Funeral Bureau licenses all funeral establishments (and funeral directors) operating in Alabama.  The Bureau does not license cemeteries that are operated by religious institutions, a cemetery direct or other government entity, the military, Native American tribal organizations, or other groups.  Visit the Bureau’s Web site to verify license status for your state.


After I decide on my pre-need arrangement, what should I do?

You should create a written pre-need plan.  Most funeral establishments and cemeteries offer pre-arrangement guides you can fill out to keep and share with your family.   You may want to consult an attorney about including your pre-need information in your will or other legal materials

Can my arrangements be changed before or after my death?

Only you can make changes to your arrangements before they are needed.  If your instructions are clear and you’ve de provisions to pay for the costs, your survivors cannot make changes.  Survivors can make changes only if your documents allow changes or if the arrangements are incomplete, unclear or not fully paid for.

Should I pay for my Pre-Need choices ahead of time?

Prepaying spares your survivors the burden of arranging payment.  It also keeps you in control of the costs and ensures that your wishes can and will be carried out.

How do I Prepay for cemetery expenses?

Prepayment methods include life insurance, funeral insurance, funeral trusts, and bank held trust or saving accounts.  You may wish to consult an attorney and Medicare or Medicaid, if applicable, before making a decision about paying for pre-need expenses.  You may also make arrangements with the funeral home of your choice or our Oakwood Memorial Gardens.

Here are four common ways to pay for Pre-Need services.  Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Life Insurances specifically purchased for funeral arrangements will pay a fixed amount based on the face value of the policy.
  • Funeral Insurance can be purchased in an amount to pay for services, merchandise, and cemetery cost. Before you purchase a funeral trust, you should get answers to the following questions:  are the costs guaranteed? What are the cancellation terms?  If the trust fund increases in value, who will received any remaining money after the contract is fulfilled?  What happens if the death occurs before the trust is paid in full?
  • Bank-held trusts or savings accounts are accounts you establish to pay for funeral expenses. It is up to you to let your family and the funeral provider know about the money in the account.  The cost of funeral services and merchandise is usually not guaranteed with this type of account.
  • Funeral Insurance Buy funeral insurance through the funeral home or cemetery establishment, which becomes your beneficiary. You preselect the casket, grave or 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 the prices rise.  However, it can keep any funds remaining after the arrangements have been carried out.
Is there anything else I should know about prepaying my arrangements?

Before you sign any contract, consider the following:

  • Are there any costs not included in the pre-need contract that would have to be paid at the time of need? If so, who would pay them?
  • Are the prices quoted on the contact guaranteed?
  • Can the arrangements be transferred to another funeral establishment and/or cemetery if you move or simply change your mind?
  • What happens to the contact if the establishment closes or is sold?
  • Exactly who holds the pre-need funds and how can you contact the company?
  • Exactly who holds the pre-need funds and how can you contact the company?
  • If interest is earned on the account, who pays the taxes on the income earned?
  • Can you cancel the contract and, if so, what would the penalty be?