Recently, I attended a funeral and during the eulogy it was mentioned that a few years ago the decedent made all the arrangements for his own funeral. He had chosen his casket, burial site, funeral home and the type of service he wanted. It was also mentioned during the eulogy how much easier his passing was on his family in that they did not have to deal with the funeral issues. It got me to thinking how important this topic is and that it just doesn’t get talked about very often.
No one wants to talk about their death. It is not a pleasant conversation and it is generally awkward, emotional and uncomfortable. That is all true; however, the reality of the situation is that no matter how much we ignore it, we are all going to pass and there’s absolutely nothing that we can do about it. Therefore, the issue of funerals is something that as adults we need to consider.
If you think about it, people generally make funeral arrangements immediately after a death. Unfortunately, that’s probably the worst time to arrange a funeral. People are very emotional and it’s hard to think clearly after the death of a loved one. As a result, and I’ve seen this many times, people tend to overspend for a funeral. They’ll get the more expensive casket or other amenities and trust me, the costs add up. One of the advantages of preplanning a funeral is that you can make these decisions when you’re of clear mind and can be a little more fiscally responsible. In addition, and probably the most important thing, you can remove this burden from your family when they’re grieving your loss.
There is a difference between preplanning and prepaying for your funeral. When you prepay for your funeral you are typically entering into a contractual relationship with the funeral home. If that’s what you choose to do there are other issues you need to consider. For example, what happens if you move out of state; can the money be refunded or transferred to another funeral home? In addition, what happens to your money if you just decide to change your mind? Therefore, if you do decide to prepay your funeral, make sure you do some homework with regard to the funeral home. Two good places to check with are the Better Business Bureau and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
If you are thinking about preplanning your funeral, some of the issues that you may want to take into consideration are first, do you want to be cremated or do you want to be buried? In addition, you may want to decide on the funeral home you want to use and what casket and accessories you want. Furthermore, you can also deal with the type of service you want. In today’s world many people are opting out of the traditional funeral and just doing graveside services. The bottom line is that if you preplan your funeral you are removing the burden from your family, and you are in a better position to have your wishes followed and keep costs under control.
I have always said the main reason you do estate planning is not to save on taxes or avoid probate but rather, because you love your family and you want to make life as easy as possible on them when you are no longer here. The same reasoning applies to preplanning your funeral. Do I think everyone should preplan their funeral? Probably not; however, as you get up in age it is something to consider. Therefore, as difficult as it is, preplanning your funeral can be considered one of the ultimate acts of love because the discomfort you feel in preplanning your funeral is offset by the fact that you know you are easing the burden on your family during a very difficult time for them.
If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email him at Rick@bloomassetmanagement.com.