Years ago, arranging a funeral was something most people took for granted and relied solely on the funeral home. When death would occur, a family member or a close friend would simply notify the local funeral home to have the body picked up, entrusting the funeral director to guide them through the funeral arrangement process. The family then would meet with the funeral director and chose a casket, name the place for the service, chose the Cemetery and make payment arrangements. The funeral director would be made the beneficiary if the family used burial insurance to pay for the funeral, otherwise they would pay for the funeral with cash, check or credit. In today’s times, with the rising cost of goods and services, coupled with a sluggish economy, many people have concerns about the type of funeral they will I have when they die. Most people have no idea of the cost of a typical funeral. A traditional funeral averages about $8,000, the grave, vault and grave opening and closing are not included. Some people being aware of the costs involved and having a family, that is able and willing to cover the costs, need not be concerned. However, that is not always the case, perhaps leading to some of the questions, I have been asked recently. There are some key components that one should be aware and understand about Preplanning a funeral, be it for themselves or someone else.
The first thing one should consider is the type of funeral they would want. The majority of today’s funerals are Full Service Traditional Funerals. However, recently more and more people are choosing non-traditional burials such as Cremation, Direct and Green burials, some out of personal convictions and others falling prey to the economic conditions. Direct and Green Burials are gaining in popularity in states where they are legal. Embombing and a grave are not necessary with Cremation. There are many ways to provide a final resting place for the body. The choices are grave or mausoleum for the traditional funeral, scatter Cremains on land or water or keep in an Urn at home in for Cremation. Direct and Green burials must be buried in ground.
Personal instructions for the family can be considered once the main components are settled. Some of these instructions can be as small as the color of the casket, type of flowers or whether there should be a viewing of the body. Name the place for the funeral service, whether it is in the Chapel of the funeral home, at a public venue or in a Church. Some chose grave side service eliminating the cost of a procession to the cemetery with family limousine and motorcycle escort service. Some people chose a public service or a service by invitation only and name the guests or chose one limited to family members. Discussing your choices with family members and close friends, before making a decision is a good idea. Put your choices in writing, with copies kept in a safe deposit box, with your attorney and in the hands of family members who are most likely to survive you. Preplanning your own funeral will give you comfort, knowing that your final wishes are known to the family, and you are relieving them of the burden of making the many necessary decisions, when planning a befitting end of life memorial service for you.
Nobody can argue against Preplanning being sound advice, but Prepaying is another matter and is rarely good advice. There are reasons I believe Pre Paying is not in the best interest of a person or family preplanning their own funeral. The laws governing funeral homes that sell preneed funerals are different from state to state, and few favor the consumer. Most funeral plan salespeople are just that, salespeople, they are not industry professionals and many are just looking for a check and a signature.
All people are not the same, and there is no one method that fits all situations. Providing the funds for a future funeral is a financial issue and it is best to consult a professional financial planner.