what is pre-arrangement?

By definition, Pre-Arrangement or Pre-Need is when a person takes care of their funeral arrangements, by meeting with their funeral director, who will placing their wishes in writing in advance of death occurring.   To better assist you in answering your questions about Pre-Arrangement and available options, you can click on the image below to download a free copy of our A Guide To Pre-Arrangement Options and Pre-Planning Funerals.  This guide covers numerous areas of items to consider when discussing pre-arranged funeral plans. 


Many people plan for life events such as weddings and vacations well in advance, but many people do not plan for something that is certain to happen, their funeral.  While most people do not want to think about their own mortality, the time to pre-plan your funeral is now.  The primary advantages of pre-arranging your funeral is to relieve the burden on your loved ones in an already emotional time, and to ensure your funeral is carried out according to your wishes, eliminating the task of second-guessing what you would have wanted.  Taking the time now to arrange your funeral is one less thing your loved ones will need to worry about once you’ve passed. Pre-planning and pre-paying your funeral is one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to your family.

Five Reasons Why You Should Pre-Arrange

Planning for the future ~ you planned for your first home, you planned for your children’s college, you planned family vacations, you made your will, you planned for your financial security, planning your final wishes is the next step.  You ensure that personal records are organized and easy for your survivors to locate.

Spare Your Family ~ by planning your funeral arrangements in advance, you spare your family the anxiety of making funeral arrangements. You can eliminate worry and doubt.

You’ll gain peace of mind ~ You will gain peace of mind when you pre-arrange. You ensure that your wishes are known, and you protect your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions at one of the most trying times in their lives.

It’s a practical choice ~ Hundreds of thousands of people like you have completed all arrangements for their funerals because pre-arrangement is an essential part of overall estate planning.

Your family can be included ~ you, together with your family can plan your final wishes and you can personalize your wishes to reflect your unique personality.

What is My First Step?
You have some options when making the decision to pre-arrange.  You can choose to give us a call, make an appointment to visit with one of our Funeral Directors or you can begin your pre-arrangement online through our website.  We can also arrange to meet with you at a location of your choosing, such as your home or even over lunch.  We encourage you to bring a close family member or friend with you.

You can expect the appointment to be approximately 1.5 - 2 hours.  The conference will begin with the funeral director reviewing basic vital statistic information about you (or your loved one).  This information can include full name, date of birth, social security number, occupation, family members names, etc.

So what do I need to bring with me?
We recommend that you bring the following information with you to the conference.  Please note all items are when applicable)  

  • Full name of person for which arrangements are being made and their family members names and relationships
  • Type of service you prefer
  • Information that you would like contained in the obituary & newspapers you would like the obituary to appear
  • Any insurance information
  • Cemetery Deeds or information on cemetery
  • Veteran’s Information - Armed Services Discharge Papers (i.e. DD 214)
  • Employment Information
  • Education Information
  • Do you prefer to have flowers, if so, what kind?
  • Information about Memorial Contributions
  • You may also choose to place aside in your home clothing and jewelry which you desire.  (NOTE:  A convenient planning guide is located in the back of this booklet.)

What else happens during the conference?
After we gather vital statistic information and your wishes, we will guide you to our merchandise selection room (if you don’t prefer to visit the selection room, we have photos available).  

The merchandise selection room features caskets, alternative burial containers, adult burial enclosures, vaults, cremation urns & vaults, clothing, memorial keepsake jewelry, cremation jewelry and other personalization options.  You will then make any selections you prefer and will then return to the meeting.

How do I handle payment?
After you return from the merchandise selection room, the funeral director will then outline and review everything you have discussed and selected.  He/She will then enter all the information onto a form called a Statement of Funeral Goods and Services.  This is a contract between yourself (or your loved one) and the funeral home.  The pages following will discuss in greater detail the payment options which are available to you.

We will then present you with several (but not a lot) of forms to sign and be there for you to answer any additional questions you may have.  At this point, the conference will be completed.

What if I decide to change my wishes?
Of course, after the meeting is concluded if say a day, week or month from now, you decide to make changes, we handle those as well, please just give us a call.

Pre-Payment Options

Pre-paying your funeral reduces stress and financial burden on your loved ones after your passing.  We can coordinate a payment plans that suits your needs, from a single payment plan to monthly bank account withdrawals.  By pre-paying your funeral you eliminate your family second guessing on if they have spent too much or too little on your funeral.  Pre-payment also protects you and your family from inflation, and the growth is non-taxable.  Depending on your region, if your funeral costs less than the amount you have put aside, those funds will be refunded back to your beneficiaries.  Each year thousands of people decide to pre-plan and pre-pay their funeral, these plans are designed to be flexible and can accommodate the many changes that often occur in people’s lives. 

We offer trust, annuity and insurance options through Securchoice and Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company.  You have several options available if you choose to pre-arrange and pre-pay your funeral. You may already have an insurance policy to cover these expenses.  You can pay in full in cash/check/credit card.  You can pay in payments using Securchoice Pre-Need Funding Program or you can purchase a life insurance policy through FDLIC.


  • 100% of Funds are placed into an irrevocable trust with SecurChoice™.  PNC Bank is the administrator of the SecurChoice™ plan.
  • Pre-Arranged Funerals protect assets from Medical Assistance
  • Cost is Guaranteed (EXAMPLE:  You purchase a funeral that costs $6000.00, you write a check today for $6000.00 payable to PNC Administrator.  The funeral home places the money in trust.  The earnings from the trust will cover any future inflation, so that if death occurs 15 years from the date of the contract, and the cost of that same funeral is now $7500.00, you have to pay nothing more, unless there are additional items ordered at the time of death.)
  • If the cost is short (see example above), the Funeral Home is responsible for making up the difference, not you.


  • You may open a trust with any amount
  • 100% of Funds are placed into an irrevocable trust with SecurChoice™.  PNC Bank is the administrator of the SecurChoice™ plan.
  • You make payments AS YOU WISH into the trust.  
  • PNC Bank will provide a coupon book upon request.
  • If the death occurs before the funeral expenses are paid in full, the estate is responsible for the remaining balance. (EXAMPLE:  Total Funeral Expenses = $6000.00.  You open up a trust with $100.00 on 8/1/2014,  you make monthly payments for the first year of $20.00 ($240.00 total) per month, then quarterly payments the second year of $20.00 ($80.00 total) per quarter and the third year, you make no payments.  Death occurs in October of the third year.  The remaining balance of $5580.00 ($6000 - $100 - $240 - $80) will be due from the estate.

If you already have an insurance policy, you can simply make the funeral home the beneficiary of the insurance policy.  Our offices have the necessary forms which you can complete.  Once the funeral bill is paid in full, any additional remaining funds will be returned to the next of kin.

SecurChoice™ is a pre-need funeral funding program, that we are eligible to participate in through our professional membership in the Pennsylvania  Funeral Directors Association.  
Licensed Pennsylvania funeral directors utilize a bank trust, with PNC Bank as Trustee, or an insurance policy, issued by Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company, to fund prearranged funerals.  

We have a licensed Insurance Agent on staff that can provide you with insurance through Funeral Directors Life Insurance  The next page will describe payment options using figures so that you can select the option which best works for you.

If you do not wish to pre-pay your arrangements in advance, you may do so, we will keep your wishes here in writing and provide you with a copy to share with your family.   For all available payment options, please click here to be taken to our Pre-Arrangement Guide which explains all payment options.


Please click on the image above to view a video about our newest program, Having the Talk of a Lifetime.™ This program is specifically geared towards caregivers.  The goal of the program is to help caregivers “open the door” to having the talk about end of life decisions.  

At the Wiedeman Funeral Home, Inc., Steelton and Fackler-Wiedeman Funeral Home, Harrisburg, we understand it can be very difficult to find just the right words to open up a dialogue and have “the talk” about end of life decisions.  

Please know that you are not alone with this difficult discussion item.  We hear from family members numerous times a week about how they struggle with how to bring up the topic of what their loved one wants upon their death.   

In order to help you, through our membership with the National Funeral Directors Association and the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, who partnered with the Funeral and Memorial Information Council to provide these useful tips to get the conversation started and methods you can gently use to determine your loved one’s final wishes.   This unique program is targeted to caregivers.


If you would like to begin your pre-arrangement online, please click here and you will be taken to a fillable/downloadable form which you can then forward to us.  Once we receive it, one of our funeral directors will contact you.


Below are come brochures which cover topics related to pre-arrangement.  Please click on any of the links below to download a free copy of the brochure.  If you prefer to have a copy mailed to you, please contact us

If you are interested in additional materials related to pre-arrangement and other topics, please feel free to download a copy of our Available Resources by clicking on the image above.


When you think about putting your affairs in order, your mental checklist of items to attend to likely includes preparing a Will (or perhaps, updating an existing Will).  But the list should be expanded to include these items as well:

  • Preparing financial and health care powers of attorney, so that a trusted loved one has legal authority to handle your banking and other financial matters, and give consent for hospital care, medical and surgical procedures, and nursing home admission.
  • Preparing a Living Will, so that your health care agent and health care providers will know your wishes regarding the administration of life prolonging medical treatment- especially when there is no reasonable prospect for recovery.
  • Obtaining an Organ Donor consent card (or having your driver’s license notated as “Organ Donor”) if you want to donate skin, tissue, eyes, and/or organs.
  • Preparing a personal property memorandum, so that you can direct that specific items of tangible personal property, such as family heirlooms, will be given to designated individuals.  This is not a substitute for a Will, but does simplify the distribution of these items.  (And this is a good opportunity to describe the provenance of items that have been in the family for generations, so that the recipient can appreciate the historical and sentimental value of the object.)
  • Pre-planning a funeral or at least preparing a letter addressed to your closest next of kin indicating your desires regarding interment, including burial or cremation of your remains. (Some people even pick songs for their funerals or write their obituaries.)
  • Making sure beneficiary designations are up-to-date on life insurance and pension and retirement plans.  Spouses have certain rights to retirement plan benefits, and you may need legal advice before you can effect a change that removes a spouse as beneficiary.
  • Preparing a “road map” for your executor, listing the names of your banks, brokers, insurance companies, and any other entity that holds or controls assets that will pass to your heirs.  Also include account numbers, PINs and Passwords, so that your executor will be able to obtain online access to financial account information as well as to your social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Remember to review your Will at least every five years or when you face a significant life event such as divorce, illness or the death of a beneficiary of your Will.  And use your will to provide for your unique interests – such as providing for the care of pets.

The Job of the Executor
Your executor will appreciate your efforts to “put your affairs in order” – it will make it much easier to attend to the myriad of details the executor will need to tend to immediately upon your death and over time.  For example:

Funeral arrangements and disposition of remains:  this can be an area for friction and disagreement among the next of kin;

Access to safe deposit boxes: the deceased’s Will can be removed, but other items must remain in the box until a formal inventory is made.  Arranging for the probate of the Will and the administration of the Estate.

Estate administration is not necessarily complex, but involves so many steps that most executors obtain the advice and assistance of an experienced attorney. The attorney can assist the executor or administrator in handling their duties and obligations, including:

  • Preparing notices to beneficiaries required by court rules
  • Preparing legal advertising of the estate as required by state law
  • Notifying the Department of Public Welfare to determine if it has claims against the decedent’s estate
  • Identifying, protecting and valuing assets of the deceased
  • Identifying and satisfying liabilities of the deceased
  • Searching for lost property identified in the unclaimed and abandoned property database of the Pennsylvania and other states where the deceased has resided
  • Preparing the inheritance tax return for filing with the state and an inventory to be filed with the county
  • Preparing income tax returns for the decedent’s final tax year and for one or more tax years for the estate
  • Proposing an informal settlement agreement for the heirs to sign in order to receive their inheritance; or, if the heirs are not able to agree to an informal settlement, preparing the formal documents to settle the estate through court approval
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries and resolving disputes

If you’ve chosen a strong executor, who has good legal support as needed, estate administration can be a smooth process.  This is especially true where you’ve taken the time to plan ahead to put your affairs in order.

Prepared by Bridget M. Whitley, Esq., and Elizabeth B. Place, Esq., both attorneys practicing with the Harrisburg law firm SkalatosZonarich, LLC.  Ms. Whitley concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning and trust and estate administration while Ms. Place concentrates her practice in estate planning and elder law (including Medicaid eligibility planning).  They can be reached at 717-233-1000 or by e-mail at bmw@skarlatoszonarich.com and ebp@skarlatoszonarich.com.