Best Georgia State Regulated Burial Plans

Written by Jeff Root

Georgia law is very aware of the most current funeral service organizations on the internet.

The Georgia Board of Funeral Service posts awareness alerts all the time, to let prepaid funeral plan purchasers know of any illegitimate or shady companies taking peoples money and not fulfilling their obligations properly.

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.

How Are Burial Insurance Plans in Georgia Regulated? 

best georgia state regulated burial plansIn 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 and duly licensed with the Board of Funeral Services.

All cemeteries and cemetery associations are governed by the State Board of Cemeterians.

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 and if all options will be available at the time of the client’s demise.

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 type of life insurance.

Prepaid burial plans often help the families of the purchaser deal with the loss of a loved one, and able to 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.

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 arrangements that were made when the policy was first applied for.

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, 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.

If you can pay the premiums than you can plan and pay for your funeral in advance.

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 and reads all the provisions in the contract and creates a trust to hold the payments in perpetuity of the time of death.

Buyer Beware

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 this 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.

What is Included in a Prepaid Burial Service in Georgia?

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:

  • Caskets
  • Vaults
  • Mausoleums
  • Burial plots
  • Care of the Cemetery plot (usually first yearly payment)
  • Flowers
  • Hearst rental
  • Viewing room

There can also be ancillary merchandise which people don’t usually think of, such as a guest book, prayer cards, candles and other goods surrounding the funeral service.

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 buyers choice.

The price range for caskets sold outside of a funeral home are $999 – $3200.

Aspects of a Prepaid Burial Plan in Georgia

  • In Georgia, the pre-need sales agent must be sponsored by a registered dealer.
  • The pre-need contract must be held in a trust fund, along with the premium deposited for the express purpose of fulfilling the pre-need burial plan contract at the time of the owners demise.
  • All parties must agree to the terms in the contract, which will be reviewed for accuracy and disclosure of terms, before it is executed, by the Secretary of State in Georgia.
  • Georgia state law does not require a body to be buried in a cemetery, and internment can be on private property if the zoning laws allow it.
  • The Cemetery and Funeral Services Act of 2000 updated and clarified the laws surrounding the execution of funerary services for the entire state.

What Are the Regulations?  

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:

  • All trust funds kept for the purposes of funeral services or cemetery products and services must first approved by the Secretary of State in Georgia.
  • The purveyors of such merchandise and services must be registered with the Secretary of State in Georgia, and the provider must have a current license to provide such services.
  • Agents selling pre-need plans must be employed by a registered preneed dealer.
  • All agents of a registered pre-need dealer are authorized to sell, plan, and execute contracts on behalf of the sponsoring pre-need dealer.
  • The following must be complied with for all pre-need sales agents
    • All sales agents in the State of Georgia must be registered with the state and authorized to offer pre-need plans on behalf of the dealer.
    • All sales agents must consent to a background check
    • Must reveal and state any an all other preneed dealers and funerary service organizations they have worked  for in the past
    • All sales agents must have the written consent of any and all registered dealers that he or she may work for – if more than one registered dealer employs the sales agent.
  • Any life insurance that pertains to, is a part of, or is named in a trust, as connected with or identifies a particular funeral establishment, must have the funeral establishments express written permission to make any claim or sell any type of prepaid life insurance for the establishment.

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).

People Also Ask…

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!

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