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Funerals 101

Why Should I Pre-Plan For A Funeral?

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Everyone, regardless of their health, should think about their funeral wishes as a part of estate planning and/or Will preparation.

Pre-planning a funeral is important because:

  • The high cost of funerals as well as the many choices facing us or our loved ones make a strong case for pre-planning a funeral. Pre-planning allows for comparison shopping without pressure.
  • Thinking ahead can lead to informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements.
  • Pre-planning allows you to choose the specific items you want with respect to your funeral and burial.
  • Thinking ahead spares survivors the stress of making important financial decisions when under extreme emotional stress. It also spares them from being subjected to the sales tactics of funeral providers who may not be as concerned with your family's needs as much as their own self interest.
  • If you are single or in a relationship with a partner of the same sex, if you don't make plans, the decision maker may not be a person who is sensitive to your life and values.

Following are two examples of the advantages of pre-planning and sharing your thoughts.

  • Example #1. Sheila recently shared with us what happened when Charlotte, her mother, passed away. Sheila and her sister along with her mother had discussed ahead of time what arrangements were to be made when the time came. It had been specifically decided that Charlotte would be buried in a simple pine casket.

When Sheila and her sister went to the funeral home after the death of their mother, they were in the "showroom" looking at the pine casket when the funeral director pointed out that their father had been buried in the expensive mahogany he was lovingly patting. He wondered aloud if they cared as much about their mother as they had their father. Having discussed in advance what was to take place, Sheila and her sister were in a position to resist the ploy and insist on the arrangements that had been made jointly ahead of time -- fulfilling their mother's wishes and saving more than $6,000.

  • Example #2: Susan was one of four adult children. Her mother, Mary, discussed the simple arrangements and small family funeral she wanted. Unfortunately Mary did not put her wishes in writingand did not discuss them with the rest of the family. After Mary's death, the other three children accused Susan just being cheap. To prevent a family crisis, Susan had to agree to a funeral service that was much more costly than their mother had indicated she wanted.

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