The Whys and Hows of Planning Your Funeral Now

Posted by andrea.needham

Thinking about your death may not feel good. Preparing for the future, however, is a smart decision, especially if it means your family doesn’t need to worry about finances in the event of your unexpected passing. Here’s why I believe you should begin planning your funeral now, plus how to get started:


Consider Insurance for Any Eventuality


You may have some life insurance already, but burial insurance is another crucial consideration. It can help cover other debt like medical bills and personal loans, and provide your family with a practical means of managing your burial expenses. Consider what final arrangements you would like, and estimate any bills or debt, to determine the appropriate level of coverage.


The average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000 so a policy that covers an adequate amount is vital. With this protection in place, your family won’t need to overextend their finances to care for your final needs.


Decide What Services You Want


You also need to think about what type of funeral services would be appropriate. In general, there is the option of a full, traditional funeral with a formal service and viewing, or direct services that include either burial or cremation. There is a significant difference in cost, and many people prefer one method over the other for a variety of reasons.


There are a number of ways to save on the expense as well. You can forgo embalming if burial will be within a couple of days, and Today points out you don’t even have to purchase a casket. Casket rentals are a straightforward way to stretch funeral funds, and funeral homes take appropriate measures to ensure the casket and body are not in direct contact.


Think about how you would prefer to be buried and outline those desires now. You may want to discuss with your family the kind of service – or lack thereof – that you would prefer.


You can also opt for alternative end-of-life methods. For example, if you want to donate your body to science, you may need to complete paperwork beforehand. If you don’t, your wishes may not be honored. Most often, colleges and universities accept such donations to teach students and advance scientific research, notes National Geographic.


Green burials are another option, returning your body to the earth in a manner that is more natural than other methods. Not only is embalming skipped, but the body is also laid to rest in a simple shroud of material that will decompose quickly. Depending on your personal beliefs, it could be an ideal solution.


Let Your Wishes Be Known


Talking to your friends and family about your final wishes can feel morbid. Still, ensuring that the people you love know your preferences is a vital part of planning for the future. If you have a relative who may legally make decisions upon your passing, such as your spouse, a conversation is all it may take to make things clear.


However, your spouse may not automatically receive power of attorney if you are incapacitated, so putting everything in writing provides peace of mind and avoids red tape during a challenging time.


Establishing a living will and advance directives can also help your spouse or another designated person to make decisions if you cannot. A living will or advance directive for medical decisions makes your desires clear and takes the pressure off your family members to decide for you. You may choose a do not resuscitate (DNR) order or another advance directive, even if your family disagrees, and the documents would ensure they follow your wishes.


Whatever your wishes are, outline them clearly and legally, and keep copies where your loved ones can find them.  It’s a good idea to create a binder with everything in one place – copies of legal documents and other final requests. From your favorite song to your attorney’s phone number, loved ones can have everything at their fingertips. You can also digitize these documents, and use a free tool to merge PDF files online. Share it with your loved ones and you don’t have to worry about these important documents getting lost.


The best time to arrange for your funeral is right now. With planning, you can save your family stress and money during a difficult time in their lives. It may feel insensitive, but the decisions you make now can ease a future burden, so it’s worth the awkward conversations.

Article written by Andrea Needham of


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