4 Steps to Plan Your Own Funeral & Make Things Easier on Your Family
By Brad Krause
One of the most responsible and loving things you can do for your family is to plan your own funeral and burial. Your passing will be emotionally devastating to your loved ones, and it will help them immensely to be able to grieve without the stress, potential bickering and financial considerations that come with planning a funeral. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you started.
Step 1: Have the conversation
Before you do anything else, you need to have the end-of-life conversation with your family. This is the conversation that relieves the burden of decision-making for your loved ones. This is where you tell them how you want your end of life care and post-death arrangements to go. The final wishes conversation can be a tough one. It’s important to prepare — practice with a friend, choose a comforting location and be thorough and honest.
Step 2: Get your final documents in order
Doing this will not only help direct your family in terms of your wishes but will also give them the legal authority to make decisions. It will also help to prevent the bickering and infighting that happens with grieving families trying to make decisions after a loss. Your final documents could include one establishing power of attorney, a living will, one that appoints a Social Security representative, a statement of desires and location of property and documents, a pet trust and more.
Step 3: Figure out what you want
Where do you want to lie? How do you want your funeral services to play out? Where do you want your memorial services? Do you even want a separate memorial service? Do you want to be cremated or interred? When it comes to your services and burial, you have a lot of options. It’s your job to narrow those down and come up with a plan for yourself. Don’t just plan the basics — get specific. Who do you want reading eulogies? Who do you want serving as pallbearers? Who do you want to perform the entire service? Once you have a funeral plan made out, share it with your family, church, funeral home, or whomever else will be tasked with executing it.
Step 4: Relieve some of the financial burden
Death is not cheap. The cost of the average funeral is nearly $8,000 — and that can begin to increase as you start to add additional services. It’s your job to relieve much (if not all) of this burden from your family so that they can grieve without this extra stressor. The top option, of course, is to have a competent life insurance policy that will pay out enough to cover your funeral costs. Most policies will include a so-called “death benefit,” and there may even be lower-cost options that still have a sufficient death benefit. There are other financing options, however, including a prepaid funeral plan (usually worked out with a funeral home). You can also set up a joint trust or use specific savings for your funeral.
Though it’s difficult to plan for death on an emotional level, it’s not that hard to plan for it financially and practically. This planning can save your loved ones untold levels of extra stress during an already stressful time. Pre-planning the end of your life and the service that follows also gives you something that cannot be taken for granted — ultimate control.