Losing a loved one is a stressful time. Prearranging your funeral and burial can spare your family from having to make significant and costly decisions during this difficult time. As hard as it may be to make your own final arrangements, making them is a gift to your loved ones.
The final arrangements you make fall into two categories:
- Your funeral service and any gatherings you want, and
- Burial arrangements.
Funeral Service and Gatherings
There are many things to be considered when planning a funeral and any gatherings of friends and family after you pass away. Pre-planning your funeral will relieve your loved ones of the burden of making those decisions in the days after your death and will make sure that you will be remembered as you wish. Some things to consider are:
- Where will the funeral and/or memorial service be held?
- Who will officiate?
- Who should give your eulogy?
- Who will be the pallbearers, if needed?
- What hymns would you like?
- What prayers would you like?
- Do you want a wake or private gathering?
- What do you want included in your obituary?
- Would you like flowers or prefer donations to a favorite charity?
The costs of a burial – including obituary notices, services, casket, and interment or cremation – are high and can be overwhelming when coupled with the emotions and uncertainty following a death. Making choices about your arrangements and, if possible, pre-paying for them will help your loved ones during this difficult time. You will be able to consider your options and make your choices without the emotions, pressure, and scheduling deadlines faced when someone dies.
Some of the options to consider when making your burial arrangements are:
- Which funeral home or mortuary do you want to use?
- Do you want a viewing? If so, do you want an open or closed casket?
- What clothing or jewelry do you want for the viewing?
- Where do you want to be buried? Do you need to purchase a burial plot?
- What type of casket do you want?
- What style of grave marker do you want, and what do you want engraved on it?
- Do you want to be cremated? If yes, what do you want done with your remains?
Document your wishes
Be sure that you document your wishes clearly and discuss them with friends and family, especially if you have prepaid for some or all of them.
- Don’t keep the document in a safe deposit box, as access to the box may not be granted until after your funeral.
- Don’t put your instructions in your will, as the will is typically read after the funeral.
Tips & Resources - Making Your Final Arrangements
Review your final arrangements document every couple of years to make sure it still reflects your wishes.
Making your final arrangements is intended to be a gift to your loved ones. Think carefully about the instructions you make. You don’t want to burden them or cause them to feel guilt if your requests are not easily doable.
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended as investment, tax, financial, legal or other advice. Your personal decisions should be based on the recommendations of your own professional advisors.