Ray’s Take Whether death comes unexpectedly or after a long illness, it is always a very difficult and emotional time for family members. Since you won’t be there to help and comfort them, you can make the choice to pre-plan your funeral to make things a bit easier.
Pre-planning a funeral should go hand-in-hand with drawing up your will, trusts and other important legal documents. While you don’t need to have a formal, notarized document, it’s a good idea to write down which cemetery or crematorium you would prefer, casket or urn, clothing, flowers, music, charities you would like to see supported in your name, and other related issues. If you wish, you could even craft a statement of your own to be read at your service.
Pre-planning doesn’t necessarily mean pre-paying. In fact, pre-paying is generally not a reliable choice as inflation, captive insurance company issues, and unexpected problems can change circumstances substantially. You can direct that your estate cover any costs through your will; or you may prefer to set up an “earmarked” fund or purchase separate insurance. A frank talk with your financial adviser should determine which is the best option for you.
One advantage of pre-planning is that you can acquaint yourself with all the options and their related costs, but be forewarned: it’s usually a traumatic exercise. The Internet is a great resource for learning about what is actually mandated for a burial or cremation. By making informed and rational decisions now, you save family members from any pressures to spend more than you would wish. Instead of worrying that the amount of money spent reflects the amount of their love, they’ll know they are doing exactly what you wish.
Once you’ve pre-planned your funeral, make sure you put that information in the right hands: your lawyer, financial adviser, executor of your will, or a close and reliable family member.
A pre-planned funeral can be a wonderful gift for your survivors.
Dana’s Take Keep in mind that one’s funeral is really for your loved ones. It might be a good idea to include those close to you in your planning process. You could come up with some wonderful ideas together.
I recently attended a “life celebration” for a friend at The Metal Museum, overlooking the river. Friends and family celebrated the man’s life with projected photos, his favorite music and even a New Orleans-style parade. It was a beautiful way to remember how much fun he was in life.
Think about how you want your life celebrated by those you love and set aside funds for that plan, whether it’s a traditional faith-based service or a trip for friends and family to some special place to celebrate your life and times together. Your guest’s last memories of you would certainly be fond ones!
Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.