So, you want to pre-plan your funeral but don’t know where to start. Pre-planning is a very smart decision because it allows you to be prepared and to ease the burden for your family members. However, many people struggle to even know where to start. If you want to plan a wedding, there are a million blog posts telling you how. But with funerals, it is not that simple. That’s why this funeral pre-planning guide is here to help guide you through the process.
The Funeral Pre-Planning Guide: Your First 5 Steps
Step 1: Write a Will
Writing a will is something that people often say they will do, but never get around to it. Next thing you know, it is too late and all your loved ones are scratching their heads. That is why the funeral pre-planning guide has it first on the list. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to write a will yourself. You can probably find a template online; however, states do not normally require specific language. The most important thing is that your will reflects your wishes.
Here are some things to include:
1) Name the executor to your will
2) Name guardians if you have children
3) List your debts and state how to pay them
4) List our your assets and how to access them (especially for investments)
5) Designate who gets your assets, property, and inheritance
6) If you have a lot of property, specify who should act as guardian for it
You can also include details about your funeral arrangements in your will or you can have them in a separate document.
To make your will official, all you need to do is sign it yourself and have two witnesses sign it. These witnesses do not need to know what is in it, nor do you need to have it notarized. However, some states require that you attach a self-proving affidavit and that may need to be notarized. Once you have your will completed, keep it in a secure location or give a copy to the executor. When the time comes, your will should be easy to find.
Benefits of having a will:
1) Indicate to families how you want your assets handled.
2) Guide for family members to honor your life in a way that you would have wanted.
3) Prevent arguments among family members by clearly specifying who gets what.
4) Makes it easier for family members to settle your affairs.
5) If you don’t have a will, a judge will distribute your assets according to a formula that favors spouses and children.
Step 2: Determine What You Want – Burial or Cremation?
Having a will is one of the most vital parts of the funeral pre-planning guide; making the initial decisions about what you want is the second most important element of this. Whether you choose burial or cremation will determine what other choices you have to make from there. Burial vs. cremation is a very personal choice that depends on your beliefs about death, your religion, and your family traditions. Take a look at this article to learn more about choosing burial or cremation.
Here are some common reasons why people choose burial:
1) It is a family tradition or they have a family plot.
2) They want their family members to be able to visit them easily.
3) Their religion does not permit cremation.
4) It is important to them to have a large funeral and burial is better for this.
5) Burial provides more opportunities to say goodbye.
Here are some popular reasons why people choose cremation:
1) It is more affordable.
2) They don’t like the idea of being in the ground.
3) Their family moves around a lot and wants to be able to take the ashes with them.
4) They want their ashes scattered in a place of great importance to them.
5) Cremation is easier to arrange and less trouble for family members.
Step 3: Pre-Purchase What You Need
This step is especially vital if you are choosing burial because it can get very pricey. Not only is pre-purchasing the best way to be prepared, it is also a great way to save money and get a better deal. The biggest purchase for a burial is the casket. At funeral homes, caskets can run between $2,000 and $5,000 on average; fancier caskets can cost as much as $10,000. If you don’t pre-plan, your family will have to go buy a casket from a funeral home, where they will be subjected to upselling, pushy sales tactics, and guilt-trips. This is why you should pre-purchase your casket ahead of time. Not only does it save your family the pain of purchasing one, it is more affordable. It also allows you to lock in a price without inflation.
When you browse the Overnight Caskets catalog, you will notice that our caskets are much more affordable than anywhere else. This is because we do not markup our caskets to cover overhead in the way that funeral homes do.
When the time comes, your family members will need to call Overnight Caskets and your chosen casket will be shipped out as soon as possible. Many family members are relieved when they learn that their loved ones pre-purchased a casket. This is because buying a casket is not only expensive, it is also emotionally challenging for many families.
In addition to the casket, other burial materials that you need include a burial vault, a headstone, and a location in the cemetery. If you have a family plot already then you will not need to scout a location. However, for people who are new to pre-planning it can feel very affirming to stroll through your local cemetery and pick a spot that feels right to you.
Overnight Caskets also carries very reasonably priced vaults and headstones. However, at this time, we do not offer pre-purchasing options for vaults and headstones. If you wish to be prepared with a vault and a headstone, the best way to do so is to select the items that you want and leave behind money in a trust or in an insurance policy for your family to buy these items for you.
If you wish to be embalmed or to have the service in a funeral home viewing area, you will also need to pick out a funeral home. Many funeral homes offer options for you to prepay for services like embalming and dressing. By paying for these details ahead of time, you make it much easier on your loved ones.
Step 4: Personal Details and Wishes
Some people wish to be buried with a deceased spouse, child, or stillborn infant. Make sure to include it in your will or your funeral plan if this is what you want. If your loved one was cremated and you would like to be buried with the ashes, be sure to make the ashes easy to locate when the time comes. However, if your loved one was buried, then it may be necessary for them to be exhumed in order to fulfill your final wishes.
Things like this can be hard to talk about with family members. However, it is very important to share these details and prepare your family for this eventual outcome.
Step 5: Plan How To Pay For It
When you pre-purchase a casket and prepay for other funeral goods and services, that eases much of the financial burden. However, there are still some fees and other items that will be necessary for your funeral. Things like flowers, materials for a wake or viewing, transportation for the family, and hearse rental fees are often not budgeted for.
There are many ways to pay for your funeral. In general, it is best to leave money behind in a payable-on-death account or through a life insurance policy. This will ensure that your family members are not burdened with the expenses of a funeral.
If you decide to get a life insurance policy that includes money for a funeral or a payable-on-death account, be sure to add that information to your will and let your family members know how to access it. By planning ahead with funeral funding, you will make a difficult time much easier for your family members.
Step 6: The Funeral Pre-Planning Guide – Often Overlooks Details
You’re not done just yet. Many people cover the basics like the casket, their last wishes, and how to pay for it. But they forget to account for other details. Of course, you will not exactly be around to enjoy these other details, but planning for them makes it easier on your family member.
Here are some details to plan for:
Personalize Your Funeral – We personalize weddings, why not funerals? Your funeral is about celebrating your life. People will feel better if they can celebrate your life in a way that was personal to you. There are many ways to do this. For example, things like specifying a dress code to incorporate your favorite color or asking that the funeral be more interactive. Some people who like horses, cars, or motorcycles might ask that their friends and family members take a memorial ride to honor their memory. For more ideas on how to personalize your funeral, take a look at this article.
Where Do You Want the Service? – A majority of people hold funerals at places of worship; however, you can have them at other locations too. Home funerals have become increasingly more popular due to their affordability. Other locations of significance to you may also be an option for your funeral. Please note that some locations charge to rent the space, so if you want your funeral to be held at a unique venue, plan for those costs.
Who Will Officiate? – When funerals are held at places of worship, the default is that religious leaders will be the ones to preside. However, if you opt to have your funeral elsewhere, you should designate who you want to lead the event. Many people choose their eldest child, their spouse, or their closest friend.
Select the Pallbearers – It is very common to forget to select pallbearers; this often leads to disagreements in families. Pallbearers are most often adult children, siblings, and closest friends. To avoid any issues, you should write down your wishes for pallbearers and speak to those people ahead of time to prepare them. At some funerals, the pallbearers may dress in unique outfits or perform a quick dance to honor the deceased. If you would like your pallbearers to dress up or perform, let them know that.
Who Do You Want to Invite? – Or, in some cases, not invite. In cases where there has been divorce, remarriage, or estrangement, the question of who can come to the funeral is very difficult to answer. This can leave your family members in a very uncomfortable position. The best way to make the funeral easier is to make a list of the people who you definitely want at your funeral and the people who you definitely don’t want. This way, your family members will feel more comfortable making a guest list that honors your wishes.
Pick Poems and Songs – If there are any poems or songs that are important to you, document what they are so they can be played or recited at your funeral. Having your favorite poems and songs will help attendees feel closer to you. This can make coping with the loss a little easier for them.
Think About Your Impact – Funerals are a great opportunity to raise money for charity. If there is a cause that you are passionate about, request that people donate money in lieu of sending flowers. You could also buy affordable funeral items, opt for a smaller funeral, and have the money that you saved donated to a non-profit.
Ready To Get Started?
If you are ready to start pre-planning, or just want to browse our catalog of affordable caskets while you think about it, CLICK HERE. For more information about pre-planning and casket pre-purchasing, please contact Overnight Caskets.