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Planning a Funeral in Advance: Why It’s Important


Planning Your Funeral

When you're grieving, planning a funeral for a loved one is very difficult. There are many financial and logistical decisions to be made in a very short time. You can save your family and friends from this difficult situation by planning for your funeral in advance. Then, your relatives will only have to check things off a list, with money already set aside for each item.

Follow these steps to plan your funeral or the funeral of a loved one.

1. Create a Checklist

First create a checklist of all the details you'll need to make decisions about and the price of each. A great starting point is the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist. Remember that planning a funeral is not just about finances. Because you're planning ahead, you'll have time to create this checklist with your loved ones and include any personal touches that are important to you and your family.

2. Research Costs

Like everything else, there is a wide cost range for funerals. The amount you need to save depends on the type of burial arrangements you want. For example, caskets range from ornate and expensive to plain and economical. Headstones also come in a variety of prices. Cremation could be less expensive than a traditional burial, but it also has costs and requires additional decisions, such as where to spread the ashes. Don't be afraid to call a funeral home to ask questions or get an estimate. Then, go through the items on your checklist and make a budget for each.

3. Save Money

Assuming you or your loved one has many years left, start saving for your funeral by setting aside a certain amount every month. For example, if you need to save $7,500 for a funeral and are currently in your 40s, you might estimate you have 30 years to do so. In order to reach your goal, you'd need to set aside $20.83 per month.

4. Supplement Your Savings

No matter how much you plan ahead for this difficult time, there is always the possibility of something unexpected happening or unforeseen costs popping up at the last minute. If your family needs to supplement your savings, they should consider:

  • Using money from your life insurance policy
  • Contacting Social Security for aid (upon eligibility, they provide monthly benefits or a one-time payment of $255 to the spouse or a child)
  • If you are a veteran, contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs for help with the burial costs
  • Using a low-interest or zero-interest credit card
  • Spliting costs with other family members
  • Tapping into any available inheritance money

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What You Can Do Right Now

Information is great. But taking small steps now can lead to big changes.
  • Today
  • Make a list of what you want with regard to your funeral and/or burial. Try to identify items that you do not want. This can make the process of working with a funeral home less difficult.
  • Next Week
  • Before meeting with funeral homes, draft a basic budget so you know what you can afford.
  • During the Next Few Months
  • Select a funeral home to help make final arrangements. Remember to comparison shop if you can—not only for cost, but to ensure you are working with a funeral home you feel comfortable with.
  • Draft a letter to your loved ones that clearly outlines how you want to be memorialized following your death. List any items that you have pre-paid, such as a casket or headstone.
  • Include the name and contact information of the funeral home that you made arrangements with, as well as receipts for any items that you have pre-paid.