The thought of having to plan a memorial service for yourself is an unsettling proposition. However, the benefits of pre-planning a funeral far outweigh the discomfort. These benefits include the following: your family will be relieved of the stress so they can focus on grieving, your preferences will be adhered to, and pre-planning can save your family thousands of dollars since the decisions won’t be made during a period of heightened emotion.
But, just how do you go about pre-planning your funeral? The following is a list of suggestions that will get you started on the process.
Tips to Help Plan a Memorial Service in Advance
What’s the Cost?
The first thing you will need to consider is your budget. How much money do you want to spend on your service? How will it be financed? Do you want or need additional life insurance to help cover the cost of the funeral?
How to Pay for It?
There are a number of options available to prepay, or plan ahead for, your burial plot. Among other options, you can opt for life insurance, or you can simply pay out of pocket upfront.
If you do choose to prepay for a burial plot, make sure that copies of all relevant documentation are in a location known by your family and your attorney, if applicable.
As far as funeral service expenses go, you can consider joining a nonprofit funeral society that will help you reduce your funeral costs through wise pre-planning assistance.
For both the burial plot and the funeral service, you can prepay through a funeral home, however, there are risks associated with that option. These risks include the fact that the funeral home may go out of business or change hands, and the fact that you may change your mind about the agreement and want to sell your plot to someone else or back to the cemetery. However, these are not always viable options. Each state has different laws associated with these types of prepay services, so before you enter into an agreement, check with your state.
Keep in mind that prepayment for a burial plot is not the same as prepayment for funeral services. Unless the death is imminent, it is generally not advisable to prepay for the funeral service, though pre-planning is advisable.
What About Your Remains?
This is, perhaps, the most important decision. Unless you make your wishes known, your family will not know your preference. If you have religious or personal beliefs related to how your remains are disposed of, you need to make them known, and you must make sure they are included in any pre-planning efforts.
If you would prefer to donate your body for medical research, consult your physician for advice, or simply conduct some online research related to the subject.
What Type of Service?
The next step to pre-planning your funeral is to determine exactly what type of service you would like to have within the limits of your budget. Do you want a funeral service, or simply a memorial service? Both?
If you do want a funeral service, you need to determine what kind of service you want. Should it be a traditional service, such as one held in a funeral home, or would you prefer a graveside service? This decision will directly impact your budget, so consider it carefully.
When determining what type of service, and what you would like done at the service you want, there are multiple considerations, including the following:
- Casket or urn purchase
- Selecting a funeral home: Licensed? Size? Location? Cost?
- Selecting a memorial location: Home? Club? Church?
- Selecting a cemetery: Family plot? Location? Cost?
- Type of service: Faith-based? Nondenominational? Spiritual?
- Music: Traditional? Favorite songs?
- Speakers: Specific family and/or friends?
Who Will Oversee the Service Preparations?
The person you name will be in charge of facilitating all of the arrangements and ensuring that your requests are carried out. This should be a trusted friend or family member who you are sure will be emotionally up to the task.
The obituary is not directly related to the funeral, but it is still an important part of the process. A lot of people opt to write their own obituaries so they can be sure to include all of the information they want, and to relieve their families of the grievous task of doing it themselves.
When pre-planning your funeral, there are clearly many things to consider. However, the benefits associated with pre-planning a funeral are many. When you decide ahead of time how you would like the service to be handled, you are making the final decision for yourself, and you are freeing your family from making the critical decisions during the period of time they should be grieving. You are also letting them know that you cared enough to relieve them of the burden.