In Georgia, there are two bodies offering regulation of the funeral and cemetery industry within the state.
Every funeral directory or funeral home must be registered licensed with the Board of Funeral Services. All cemeteries and cemetery associations are governed by the State Board of Cemeterians.
The Georgia Board of Funeral Service frequently posts awareness alerts to let shoppers know of any illegitimate or shady companies taking people’s money and not fulfilling their obligations properly.
Burial Insurance Plans in Georgia
All funeral and burial services organizations must be licensed by the state in order to provide those services within the state of Georgia. Their licenses must comply with state law and be held active and current to do any type of business concerning funerals or interment of a body.
The state does allow for the prepayment of funeral services and does allow leeway in its regulations for the benefit of the purchaser, but there are some products in the funerary industry that Georgia specifically asks be listed in full in the contract for prepaid funeral arrangements.
Prepaid burial plans must have a trust in the name of the client, have full disclosure of all terms and options available.
Here’s an outline of what we will discuss in this article:
- What is Burial Insurance?
- Average Funeral Costs in GA
- Prepaid Funeral Plans
- Georgia State Regulations
What is Burial Life Insurance?
Burial Life Insurance is an insurance policy, based on a trust, that covers the cost of final expenses, usually paid directly to a funeral home or cemetery association for funeral arrangements.
Many of these policies are low face value plans and are funded in a single large payment or over time, usually about 10 years. The older the recipient is, the higher the premium and the lower the face value.
In most cases, the insurance is a low-value whole life policy, where the premium never changes and the policy remains in force for the client’s entire life.
For the prepaid burial life insurance there are certain requirements, sometimes health questions, but for the most part there are little to no qualifying requirements.
Why is Burial Insurance Important?
For many people, burial insurance must be used, due to health issues, age, or other circumstances that don’t allow for a full, larger face value life insurance policy.
Prepaid burial plans often help the families deal with the loss of a loved one, and provide a less expensive arrangement at the time of death. These types of plans don’t require any health questions or other qualifying medical documentation, so are easy to acquire and maintain.
The money goes into a trust so the purchaser can change or cancel the plan and receive a refund or an adjusted premium for the new options added or changed.
Should You Prepay Your Funeral?
Many people today are curious about prepaid funerals, as it really takes the pressure off the surviving family members.
Presently the types of prepaid burial insurance vary, by state and municipality.
Overall these plans are safe if the purchaser is careful, reads all the provisions in the contract, and creates a trust to hold the payments in perpetuity of the time of death.
There are companies on the internet who are taking people’s money than not delivering on the contract at the time the client dies.
These companies often prey on older, less monied clients, who don’t have any other option than a prepaid burial or funeral plan.
Often, as outlined in Georgia’s funeral service website, these companies tell clients they are licensed when they are not.
They will drain a savings account, or a funding source of all or a substantial portion of its proceeds, then never provide the required merchandise or services they had promised.
Georgia actively fights these schemes with alerts on the homepage of the website, naming the companies, and through easy to understand guidelines on how to pre-plan, or prepay a funeral or burial.
How Much Does a Funeral Cost?
The average funeral in Georgia runs about $4,500 without cemetery fees for the basic arrangements and goods. That is below the national average which is $7,000.
In Georgia there are larger cities and a large retired population, making for a greater rate of mortality and a higher overall rate for funerary sales.
That translates into a lower overall price for the options in a funeral service.
The big box stores like Walmart and Costco are now selling caskets – many of which are affordably priced and delivered to the funeral home of the buyer’s choice.
The price range for caskets sold outside of a funeral home is $999 – $3200.
What Does A Prepaid Burial Plan Include?
In Georgia, each prepaid burial plan needs to spell out what exactly is included in that plan.
The law allows for any number of choices of funeral goods and services, but those offerings must be clearly and accurately outlined in the contract.
Any provision that is limited or variable based on time must be explained to the complete satisfaction of the State of Georgia, or it can not be entered into.
Some of the items that might be included in such a prepaid funeral plan are:
There can also be ancillary merchandise that people don’t usually think of, such as a guest book, prayer cards, candles, and other goods surrounding the funeral service.
Prepaid Burial Plan Requirements in Georgia
Georgia State Regulations for Burial Insurance
The Secretary of State in Georgia enforced the laws of funeral services and cemetery associations.
Those laws were updated and revisited in the year 2000.
The very comprehensive and careful regulation of the funeral industry makes Georgia stand out in the country for protecting the rights of those that survive the departed.
Some of those regulations are as follows:
What Are the Tax Implications?
Pre-need funeral and burial plans are not subject to federal taxation, but can sometimes be taxable by the state.
The funeral home will often bill after the funeral for a reasonable tax, if not already included in the prepaid contract.
As with any retail sale or service tax becomes due at the time of the transaction.
Since the transaction does not complete until the purchaser dies at some future date, a tax is not due until that time.
For many people, a pre-planned and prepaid funeral takes the guesswork out of the whole emotion packed time in the survivor’s life.
These types of plans are very versatile and can be quite functional if carefully planned and executed.
The best companies to handle a prepaid funeral plan are those with the most options, the longest in-business time and best choice of contract structure (i.e., trust fund based insurance policy).
Georgia Burial Insurance FAQ
What is a pre-need burial contract?
Pre-need burial contracts are a financial instrument specifically designed to pay for a funeral, burial or cremation.
The arrangement is made between the purchaser (the person who dies) and a third party (the funeral home or cemetery association) where the third party receives payment at the time services are delivered from a prepaid trust fund.
What is a prepaid funeral contract?
The contract that a funeral home enters into to provide funeral goods and services at some future time, in exchange for a prepaid premium that is held in perpetuity for that event.
Is embalming required by law in Georgia?
A body is not required to be embalmed in Georgia, but there must be either embalming or refrigeration 24 hours after death.
How much does cremation cost in Georgia?
With the average cost of a funeral being around $4500 without the cemetery fees, a cremation can cost as little as $795.
The $795 is for a what is coined as simple cremation, while a cremation with a service can run as high as $4000.
Finding the Best Burial Insurance Plan in Georgia
Overall, prepaid funeral plans in Georgia are a fairly good option for those looking for a way to help alleviate the financial burden of a funeral from the hands of their family.
However, there are many more options on the market that you should compare in order to be sure you are making the best decision for you and your family.
Give us a call today to speak with one of our independent life insurance agents, who can help you compare your prepaid plan to burial insurance plans from dozens of the best burial insurance companies on the market, to ensure you make the right choice for your loved ones.
Or, you can get started comparing burial insurance quotes online with our easy to use burial insurance quoting tool!