Part 9: Your Funeral

This is the last segment in our series, and it’s likely the most important and most difficult to complete.  Preplanning your funeral might sound like a dreadful task, but more and more people are starting to recognize the benefits of doing so.  While death is a subject many of us tend to avoid, it is inevitable and planning for your funeral can, and should, be looked at in the same way as planning for your retirement.  By preplanning your funeral, you get peace of mind knowing your wishes have been made known and things will be handled in a way that alleviates stress and grief for your loved ones.  It also eliminates any uncertainties or disputes that could come up among your family members.

What happens if you don’t make these decisions now?  They’ll fall to your next-of-kin and will go down the next-of-kin hierarchy until someone is available, qualifies (is over 18), and is capable.  They’ll start with a spouse or domestic partner and then move on to children, parents, siblings, etc.  Some states may allow a close friend to perform these duties if no next of kin is available or capable of handling the tasks.  It’s also good to name a back-up or successor.  By leaving these decisions up to your family, there is the potential for conflict and differing views on how things should be done.  Even though documenting your wishes doesn’t guarantee everything will go according to plan, it does leave your family with a set of guidelines and criteria on how you’d like things to go.

An obituary is very common and can be one of the most challenging items for your loved ones to write.  When thinking of your life, no one knows it better than you and no one else knows what you’d like to share with the public or keep private.  Writing your own obituary and/or leaving clear instructions on what to include, along with a photo, can provide some relief to your loved ones.

Preplanning some aspects can even save you money as some funeral homes offer discounts to people that take advantage of their preplanning services, which can help with any financial burdens at the time of your passing.  Funeral insurance might be an option and some places will allow you to pay over a period of time, to ensure that when the time comes most of the costs are already covered.

The more you can plan ahead, the easier it will be for your loved ones. There are many aspects to consider, probably more than you’d imagined, and the following checklist is designed to help.  Be sure to talk to your family about this checklist and who you are designating to help avoid any potential conflicts.