It may not be a pleasant thing to think about, but there’s no reason why you can’t plan and prepay for your own funeral and interment.
In fact, doing so ahead of time removes this financial, logistical and emotional burden from your spouse or children.
Making these arrangements ahead of time also gives you the ability to specify how you would like your memorial service and interment to be handled.
Start by writing down your wishes regarding burial or cremation, the type of funeral you want, and other relevant information. Then, fill out a funeral preplanning worksheet (the funeral director you choose will provide one) and keep it with your will or important papers.
How much do funerals and interments cost?
The average funeral costs anywhere between $7,000 to $8,000. Burials can add $2,000 to $4,000 to this cost, while cremation generally costs somewhere between $1,000 to $2,000.
Choosing your interment method
Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? Most people choose burial, even though it’s generally more expensive.
If you choose cremation, you can specify what should be done with the ashes. For example, you may want them released in a natural setting or maybe buried in your garden (make sure these intentions doesn’t violate any local laws).
Selecting a funeral director
In many states, a funeral director is required to remove the deceased from the place of death and prepares the body for interment. But they do so much more, which is why you might want to choose one ahead of time.
A funeral director can make arrangements and see that the funeral service and interment you desire go as planned. They’ll also discuss legal issues with your executor and attorney and arrange for the issuance of death certificates and publication of death notices and obituaries. As part of a planning process, you can work with them to:
- Decide where the funeral service or memorial service will take place.
- Plan the funeral service and coordinate all participants and services following your wishes.
- Choose a casket or urn.
- Choose a burial site (you may have to contact the cemetery directly, however, for information on gravesites, etc.).
- Arrange transportation for specified family members and friends to and from the burial site.
A funeral director's reputation is an important indicator of the quality of service they will give you. If you don't know anything about the funeral directors or funeral homes in your area, ask a relative, friend, or clergy member for a recommendation instead of searching for one online.
Also ask if the director is licensed and a member of a professional association such as the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) or National Selected Morticians (NSM), because their members must adhere to a code of ethics.
If possible, visit the funeral home, look around, and get information about products and prices before you start making formal arrangements. Since these are very emotional decisions, you may want to ask one of your children or a good friend to accompany you to make sure you’re not talked into pre-paying for services that you don't really want or need.
Organizing your funeral service
Many people organize funeral services based on social or religious traditions, but there's no right or wrong way to organize the service. No matter what form it takes, you can have a meaningful funeral service if you remember that it should honor your life as well as mourn your passing.
If you plan ahead of time, you can choose whether the service is lead by a member of the clergy, a family member, or someone else. You can also request that certain people speak at the service.
And don’t feel obligated to specify that your service be held before your burial or cremation. In many situations, memorial services may be held days or weeks after your interment.
Specifying additional celebrations of your life
In some cultures, one or more additional gatherings or religious services are held to celebrate the life of the deceased, usually in the home of the deceased or one of their children.
If you want your spouse or children to hold such events, specify this wish in advance. If there’s a certain member of the clergy you’d like to perform services, let them know ahead of time. But try not to impose too many requirements, since organizing these gatherings gives your loved ones the opportunity to celebrate your life in a way that’s meaningful to them.
Make your wishes known
Don’t keep your arrangements a secret. Even if your spouse and your attorney are aware of your wishes, it’s also good to let your children or other loved ones know, especially if you want any of them to be involved in carrying out your wishes.
Dan Flanagan is a financial advisor and Partner located at Canby Financial Advisors, 161 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 508.598.1082 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc and Canby Financial Advisors. Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
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