Pre-planning Your Funeral Arrangements


No one likes to think about their own death or preparing for their own funeral.  But, as they say, the only certain things in life are death and taxes.  Funerals are always a stressful time.  There’s the grief of the family.  Sometimes there are longstanding family disagreements.  And there’s the question of how to say goodbye to a loved one in a manner that is respectful, and a manner that recognizes the loved one’s wishes.


More and more adults are realizing the benefit of pre-planning funeral arrangements.  That offers to the individual as well as to the surviving family emotional and financial security.  Families can find comfort in the knowledge that their actions reflect the last wishes of the deceased.  It also helps them not make choices under stress that they may regret at a later date.


It’s never really too soon to start making funeral arrangements.  There’s a certain peace of mind knowing that these arrangements are all taken care of.


What are the steps you should take to preplan your funeral?


If you are a long time resident of your community, chances are you already know your preferred funeral home.  But if not, the National Funeral Directors Association offers a website tool to help you search area funeral homes.  You may also want to speak with clergy or other trusted individuals for recommendations.


Once you’ve chosen the funeral home, the funeral director can walk you through the process of making the arrangements.  Once you’ve agreed on the arrangements, keep a copy of the paperwork in a safe place.  It’s also a good idea to let a family member or a close friend know that you’ve taken care of this.  You may even wish to provide them with a copy of the paperwork so that, when the time comes, there’s no question.


The average cost of a funeral is about $6,000.  But if you add things like limousines, flowers, food arrangements and more the costs can well exceed $10,000. Prepayment is not required, but you can do that if you choose.  In many cases, funeral arrangements are paid for by life insurance policies.  Just make sure you know the details and that the financial arrangements are spelled out appropriately.  Don’t hesitate to ask the funeral director to explain anything that you don’t understand.  That’s why they’re there for you.


Make some decisions about the type of service or other arrangements you would like to have.  Ask yourself these questions:


– What type of service do I want to have?
– Do I want to be cremated or buried?
– Do I want a church service?  A graveside service?  Or both?
– Would I prefer to have a memorial service after the burial or cremation?
– Do I want any other gatherings for friends or family?
– Do I want a viewing or a wake prior to the funeral?


Are there personal touches you’d like to have at the service or at graveside?


– Make sure your religious preferences are spelled out.  Are there specific mourning practices of your religion?  This is particularly important if your family does not share you religious beliefs.
– Do you have a particular clergy person or other individual you would like to conduct the service?
– Do you have people you wish to serve as pallbearers?  Typically you need six individuals.  Others can serve as honorary pallbearers if you choose.
– Are there people you would like to ask to deliver a eulogy or read a prayer or poem?
– Do you have specific readings or music you would like to be a part of the service?
– Are there individuals or groups (civic organizations, clubs, etc.) who should be notified at your passing?


Keep in mind that planning your funeral arrangements differ from planning what happens to your estate.  Certainly there are overlaps, but don’t assume taking care of one automatically covers the other.


If you have questions about preplanning your funeral as well as protecting your rights, visit the National Funeral Directors Association or call The Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program (FSCAP) at 1-800-228-6332.


There’s a tendency to think that making arrangements for your own funeral is a bit morbid.  But when you take the time to plan ahead of time, removing the emotional stress and thinking things through, preplanning can be a benefit to both you and your family.  Consider it a gift to your loved ones at a time when they need it most.


1 Comment

  1. Lillian Schaeffer

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that pre-planning your funeral allows you to add personal touches. My husband and I have been talking about the future, and we’d like to get some things in order for the end of our lives, even though that’s likely many years out. There are some specific things that I’d personally like to have as part of my funeral, so I’ll definitely look into pre-planning so I can have some say in that. Thanks for the great post!

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