1. Prepaid Funeral Plan

To ease the burden of family, many people choose to pre-pay for the funeral expenses. AARP recommends setting up a separate bank account just for burial expenses. Make sure to earmark it as “Burial Expenses” with a Pay on Death (POD) of the person who will be making the final arrangements. Then this money will be immediately available to them to pay the funeral home. It is also an acceptable asset for TennCare purposes, if appropriately set-up (p. 33-34). However, TennCare’s Policy Manual specifies an amount limit of $1500 (p. 6-11). Any amount over that can be a countable asset. This makes it tricky as the cost of a funeral outlined below are well above that limit. An elder law attorney in Tennessee who knows recent changes to TennCare policy can help you decide what is the best plan for you and your family.

2. Burial v. Cremation

Most people have a very decided view of either burial or cremation. It can be for religious reasons or just personal convictions. One thing to consider is in Tennessee the average cost of a burial is $7,271. An average cost of cremation is $6,314, according to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage.

Some questions to ask the funeral provider include:

  • May I have a General Price List which includes caskets and urns?
  • What are the options for embalming, viewing, cremation, and services?
  • Are you corporate or individually owned? (Corporations can be significantly higher.)

3. Anatomical Donation

One Tennessee program offers a service for free to those who donate their bodies for research: Anatomical Donations Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Not everyone can qualify for the program, but for those who do, they can make their final act of caring also a benefit for their loved ones. For more information, visit vanderbi.lt/adp .


  • It requires pre-planning.
  • It requires an alternate plan.

4. Organ Donation

One other choice in the funeral preparation process is to consider organ and/or tissue donation. Donate Life Tennessee says that one organ donor can save up to eight lives while one tissue donor can help over 75 lives. You can register on their website at donatelifetn.org and/or tell your Healthcare Power of Attorney of your wishes.


Because we cannot predict the future or how our last moments will be, we highly recommend having a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA) and a Living Will. That HCPOA is someone you trust to make decisions that you would if you were able. Explain to them what you would like. They can take into consideration your Living Will document, current circumstances, technology, medical advances, and make a decision that they think you would make if you could. This person can also make decisions for an autopsy and put into action your wishes for disposition of your remains.

We Can Help

The good news is that you have options, and more options are available to you the earlier that you start your planning. Please let us help you to evaluate your individual needs and develop a plan that will give you peace of mind for whatever comes your way.

For more information, contact our Lebanon, TN office at 615-444-3568 and schedule your appointment today.