No one likes to think about death, let alone plan for it. In many families, discussing one's mortality is an extremely uncomfortable topic. But it is a topic that should be discussed and planned for well in advance of your death.
By pre-planning your funeral, you relieve your family of having to make important financial decisions during a period of great stress and grief-a time when people aren't thinking very clearly and may not know what to do because you never made your wishes known.
It's easy to say, "Don't make a fuss. I don't want a ceremony. Just bury me and be done with it." But it is important to realize that the ritual of a funeral and/or memorial service isn't for the deceased but for the living. It is a time when friends and family can gather together to grieve openly and to provide support for one another.
Pre-planning your funeral can be very informal, and as simple as jotting down your preferences and sharing your wishes with a family member. More formal arrangements in the form of a preneed contract can be set up with us and can be pre-funded through life insurance, bank trust agreement, or another method.
Pre-planning, when done properly, can give you peace of mind becaused you know that your arrangements are ready and pre-funded.
By pre-planning your funeral, you can:
- Make all the arrangements during a time of peace and not leave them to your family during their time of grief
- Make your wishes known
- Control the cost of your funeral and protect from inflation
- Ensure that personal records are organized and easy for your survivors to locate
- Protect your insurance so that it provides for your survivors and not for funeral expenses
- Provide protection in case the need arises before it is expected
PLANNING YOUR ESTATE
Making your wishes known doesn't necessarily have to be complicated or expensive. Most people are familiar with wills. You can type one up yourself or buy a kit, but if you have children or a lot of assets, financial planners usually recommend consulting an attorney. If your estate is simple and you decide to do it yourself, know that most states require that wills be typewritten, name an executor and be signed by two witnesses who are not beneficiaries.
Keep in mind that wills, even those prepared by attorneys, go through court (probate). Probate can be time consuming, stressful for your family and costly to your estate. Consider consulting an estate planner about alternatives to wills. Some options avoid probate and certain taxes.
Wills only go into effect upon your death, so they're no help if you become incapacitated. If that happens, your case will go through living probate and the court will appoint someone to handle your affairs. If you die without a will (intestate), the state will decide who gets your money, your valuables, even your children.
Estate planning can:
- Save your family financial and emotional strain.
- Designate a personal guardian for minor children.
- Provide for children with special needs.
- Reserve funds for college.
- Preserve a family business.
- Ensure that money, valuables and family heirlooms go to the people you want to have them.
- Estate planning can do much more depending on the plan you choose.
PLANNING YOUR OWN FUNERAL
Funeral or memorial service? Burial or cremation? Not sure what you want? Then imagine how your family will feel when they're forced to make those decisions when you die. Save them the added turmoil, potential disagreements and second-guessing. Make those decisions now and let them know what you want. It can be as easy as typing up your wishes and giving it to a trusted family member, friend or attorney, though we invite you to contact our funeral home to understand all of the options available to you and your family.
Funeral planning can:
- Ensure your wishes for your funeral or memorial service, burial and other details are carried out.
- Save your family from having to make difficult decisions in their time of grief.
- Prevent family squabbles and speculation about your wishes.
- Pay for funeral services in advance.
ARE PRE-PLAN NEEDS SAFE?
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has issued consumer protection guidelines for preneed contracts, consumer tips on prepaying your funeral and a consumer bill of rights. You may want to review them at www.nfda.org before you sign on the dotted line. Our funeral home abides by the guidelines set forth by the NFDA.
You might also consider involving your family or loved ones in the preparation of your funeral arrangements. After all, the funeral service is really for the living. Consult with family about what type of arrangements they would like to remember you. For example, you may desire a direct cremation, but your spouse may prefer going through a more traditional funeral program. There are many choices to accommodate both desires. Contact us to help you with these choices when pre-planning.