Funeral Expenses are an Essential Part of a Financial Plan


You carefully nurture your 401(k). Your will is always current and you have diversified your investments. You're not just sitting on your hands hoping you will be set for retirement; you're taking steps to financially secure the future for yourself and your loved ones.

But there's one important financial planning matter you and your loved ones may be avoiding, and if you are, you're not alone. Even though 70 percent of Americans say they want to minimize the emotional and financial burden their death may place on their loved ones, just 24 percent have actually done something about it - by arranging their own funerals in advance.

Perpetuated stereotypes and a deep-seated cultural aversion to talking about death are often at the root of people's failure to plan their final arrangements. No one wants to think about their death or the loss of a loved one any sooner than they must, but it is more important than ever to prepare in advance.

To help your loved one incorporate funeral planning into his or her overall strategy, it's important to understand a few key points.

There's a difference between owning cemetery property and prearranging funeral services
Owning cemetery property only addresses one's final resting place. Your loved one's final arrangements include much more than that, such as what kind of celebration, service or memorialization they want. A service planned in advance can include all elements of your loved one's final arrangements, including songs or readings that are important to them or the incorporation of their favorite hobby into a personalized funeral or memorial service.

Decide on the service
Deciding on the type of service your loved one wants is a first step towards them feeling confident that their wishes will be fulfilled. Your loved one should determine if their service should have religious elements, if it should be intimate or large, or if there are any unique aspects they want incorporated.

Another important item to discuss is final disposition. Does your loved one prefer burial or cremation? Regardless of their preference, your loved one should consider cemetery property and inquire about all options available for memorialization and disposition whether for traditional burial or interment of cremated remains.

Make time for the preplanning conversation
Designate a time to have this vital discussion. Opening the conversation by telling family and caretakers your loved one wants to ensure things are done according to your wishes may be helpful. Or, you or your loved one's family may respond if they present the discussion as their desire to help you and the family prepare to deal with the future.

Sit down with your loved one's children and share with everyone your loved one's wishes for their final arrangements. Everyone will appreciate that your loved one has taken steps to alleviate them of the burden of making difficult decisions about their funeral at what will be an already difficult time.

Whether your loved one's motivation is to ensure their wishes are carried out or to protect their family and caretakers from making painful decisions at a time of loss, creating a plan for your loved one's final arrangements is an important responsibility. Amid all the plans life asks us to make, this is one that deserves all our attention.

Molly Gligor leads the Houston area network of Dignity Memorial® funeral, cremation and cemetery providers. As a licensed funeral director for the past 20 years, she has assisted thousands of families during difficult times, helping them celebrate the significance of lives that have been lived and preserving memories with dignity and honor.

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This is very well written. As a death care professional, I sit down with families every day at a high time of emotions. Even when death is expected, it's not easy. Families need to know the benefits of planning ahead - even if its not funded ahead of time. When the deceased's family plans ahead - families are so relieved. It provides them a road map to follow for the days ahead. Spot on!
This is a good article that should make people think about preplanning to make it easier for extended families. One point not mentioned was transportation should the family member no longer live in the area where their plan was arranged. For distances, that are drivable, local funeral homes will honor the prep work but will charge $2 + per mile transportation to the plan's facility funeral home. Air fare, I have no idea, but worth checking out in advance so you know and can plan for.
At one time I was told pre-paying funeral or burial counts as an asset when seeking assistance. Is this still true? At a later point I was told the laws on this change from time to time. What can safely be done besides stating your wishes?