The act of pre-planning your funeral can be a wonderful gift to your loved ones. It relieves them of the need to guess what your wishes would have been and to make difficult and rushed financial decisions in the midst of their grief.
By taking the time to make plans now, while you’re healthy and unhurried, you can think clearly about your wishes for your funeral or memorial service, and you can also consider the manner in which your loved ones would like to say their final goodbyes. You can settle on the type of service you want as well as whether you want to be buried or cremated. When making your funeral plans, you can go into as much detail as you wish, down to planning who will officiate and choosing musical selections or poetry readings.
Once your plans are in place, what’s the best way to communicate them to your loved ones? Often, people include their basic wishes for final rites in their Will, but this should not be the only method you use to communicate your plans. Often, a Will is not even located and read until well after a decedent’s funeral has come and gone.
You’ll likely want to write down your funeral plans in a separate document, which you make available to your loved ones. And, above all else, you’ll want to discuss your plans and wishes with your family members, so that they know what to expect and where to find your written instructions.
It’s something that all of us will eventually go through, but none of us really wants to think about: our funeral. And, unfortunately, most people don’t put much thought into what type of funeral or memorial service they’d like – or how that service will be paid for. The result is that the planning for this important event is left to the last minute, with grieving family members often left to guess as to what your wishes and preferences would have been.
One way to provide your family with peace of mind when you pass away is to leave them with a plan for your funeral, along with funds to pay for the service. Here are a few suggestions:
Think about what type of service you want: do you want a large service, or a small one? Should it be formal or informal? In a church, a mortuary, or another location?
Is there a specific person you’d like to have officiate at your funeral or memorial service? What about music or poetry readings? If you have any specific wishes or requests, it’s important to clarify them.
Decide whether you want to be buried or cremated. Once this decision is made, think about what type of casket or urn you would like. If you choose cremation, would you prefer your ashes to be scattered or disposed of in a different fashion? Now is the time to explore your options and make a choice.
Once you have an idea of what your preferences are, shop around to get an idea of which providers in your area offer the best deals. This allows you to steer your loved ones in the right direction when the time comes, and spares them the stress of scrambling to locate cost-effective funeral options.
Communicate your wishes to your loved ones. Ideally, you’ll want to do this both in the form of a conversation with those closest to you, and in writing. You’ll want to leave written instructions in a location where your close family members can locate them quickly and easily.
Make sure you make funds available to your family members so that your funeral will be paid for. Your estate planning attorney can suggest options for accomplishing this.
While pre-planning your funeral can be a great gift to your family, you’ll want to avoid pre-paying your funeral. This option reduces your flexibility and is rarely a good financial choice.
It’s called green burial, and it’s a relatively new alternative to the traditional options of being buried in a casket or vault with a headstone, or being cremated.
The goal of green burial is to make sure that the burial site stays as natural as possible and that the body is allowed to recycle as naturally and efficiently as possible. This includes planting native trees or shrubs around the grave instead of erecting a headstone or other man-made monument. It also includes using a biodegradable casket or a burial shroud instead of the traditional concrete vault.
Not all cemeteries allow green burial methods, so a number of green – or natural – cemeteries have been established to accommodate those who want to be buried without being embalmed and without the traditional casket and monument. The first modern green cemetery was established in South Carolina in 1998. Since then, green cemeteries have been added from coast to coast.
Supporters of green burial point out not only the environmental benefits to this method of making your final arrangements, but also its cost-effectiveness. Without the need for embalming, pricey coffins and expensive headstones, the expense of a funeral and burial can be reduced by thousands of dollars.
If you’re considering a green burial, you may want to discuss your plans with friends and family members. A green burial has to occur quickly after death, and generally does not allow for the traditional viewing or visitation. It’s a good idea to let your loved ones know what to expect – especially if they’re not familiar with the philosophy behind your choice.