Funeral Planning: A Difficult (but Necessary) Contemplation

by Procino-Wells & Woodland, LLC

A funeral or memorial service is a traditional and emotionally-necessary rite of passage in nearly every culture on earth. Funerals serve a number of purposes, from honoring the dead to providing an open time for families to grieve and receive support. Like most life milestones, a bit of pre-planning is often a good idea to ensure all essential components of the service are in place and the deceased is honored precisely how he or she envisioned. Moreover, pre-planning a funeral is a good way to relieve the financial burden of a casket, service, burial/cremation, and gravestone on already-bereaved surviving family members.

Where to start

When planning a funeral, the best place to start is with the over-arching tone of the day: do you want a somber, immediate-family-only, private affair? Or would you prefer a more joyous celebration of life? Do you intend to involve religious affirmations throughout? Or is an inter-faith (or non-religious) service more your style? By choosing the tone of the service from the outset, this will serve as a manageable framework when making more difficult decisions.

Another major issue to consider right away is the nature of the final disposition of your body. Some people prefer a traditional open-casket service, followed by a graveside sendoff immediately thereafter. Others, for personal or cultural reasons, prefer their last remains be cremated and scattered in a meaningful location. This major decision should not be taken lightly, and should be clearly communicated both in personal interfamily conversations and your estate plan.

The service details

Your funeral plan can be as detailed – or as general – as you’d like. Funeral homes are in the business of providing families with a seamless and calming approach toward making decisions, and if your funeral plan does not have every detail included, that is okay.

Music is one major area of importance for many, as is the reading of certain scriptures, proverbs, or inspirational quotes. There is no right or wrong here, and if there is a hymn you really love, include it! Even if it happens to be Joy to the World.

Closed versus open casket is another important point to consider when planning for your funeral, and some people opt to give their family the final say – as an open casket may be difficult depending on the final condition of the body. If you choose an open casket, you may also wish to include certain instructions as to burial clothes, jewelry, even hairstyle – and the mortician will make certain to honor your wishes during the preparation process.

Finer points to consider

Funerals often double as flower shows, and it is not uncommon for dozens of white blossoms to artfully surround the casket. While this undoubtedly adds beauty and splendor to an otherwise dreary occasion, many people prefer to direct the funds allocated for such gifts to a favorite charity. If this is your wish be sure to include this in your funeral plan, as well as inform close friends and family about your preferences.

Writing an obituary is a task that proves exceptionally difficult for some, while others revel in the opportunity to ensure they are properly memorialized in print. If typing out your own obituary is too close for comfort, take heed in knowing that the funeral home or church will be of great assistance in ensuring a proper and comprehensive obituary is published.

Pre-paying for your services

The average cost of a funeral is approximately $15,000 – and most funeral homes will require payment as soon as possible following the service, if not beforehand. What’s more, a proper headstone and burial plot can also significantly increase the final costs, creating additional burden for family members. If you are interested in taking care of this final detail, most funeral homes offer the option of prepaying for the entire service, including the casket, burial and arrangements.

Take precautions, however, against working with opportunistic service providers or funeral homes with anything other than a generations-old upstanding reputation in the community. From a consumer protection standpoint, prepaid funeral providers can be a hotbed for fraud and deception, and setting aside funeral funds in a savings account may be a more prudent approach.

Contact a reputable and experience estate planning attorney for additional information

If you are considering adding a funeral plan to your estate portfolio, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to honor your final wishes. For a consultation, please call Procino-Wells & Woodland, LLC by calling 302-628-4140.