The Power of Planning Ahead for Funerals
Lizl Finch is our Legal&Tax funeral policy expert, always making sure that life runs smoothly for those left behind after a death.
She suggests that making plans for a funeral ahead of time is a useful action to take. This is called pre-or advanced funeral planning.
Eight key tips about how to go about this
- Don’t be scared to talk about death. Choose a quiet and calm time to discuss the matter with your closest family and friends. Explain to them that you are not talking about it to make them sad or because you are expecting or wanting to die soon. Rather you are choosing to talk about the matter because you want your loved ones to feel secure and certain that they will know how to handle your death and funeral.
- It is never too early to plan. Funeral planning is something that you should do as soon as you can. Once you plan for it, it simply means that the topic is closed for now and you can carry on enjoying life. It is far more difficult to start thinking practically about this issue if you are ill or more emotionally involved in this stage of life. The same is true for your family members; the further off this reality feels, the easier it is to handle.
- Yes, you should plan for a funeral, (even though you will be dead). Some people might say it is pointless to worry about a funeral, since you will no longer be here anyway. However, there is a comfort in knowing that the final arrangements for your body and the way your life will be remembered, are carried out according to your wishes. Furthermore, at the time of a death in the family, there can be many fights and much tension between family members. There can also be a sense of guilt when people are uncertain as to what to do according to what you would have wanted. Pre-planning helps avoid these situations.
- Sort out your finances A Legal&Tax Funeral Policy is a first step towards ensuring that your family will have a fund of money to draw upon in order to make necessary arrangements. You might also want to take time out to find out costs of different funeral homes and ceremonies and indicate to your family perhaps what you would like money spent on, and what is less important to you.
- Burial or cremation are not the only choices which you need to make. For many people, their cultural and/or religion will be what they follow in terms of what they want to happen to their body. Make sure that you make it clear to your family, what your preference is. Beyond whether you want to be buried or cremated, there are other choices to be made. For example, do you want just a cremation, or do you want a service with it? Would you want your ashes placed in an urn or do you want them scattered somewhere? Do you want a simple or very decorated coffin? Where do you want to be buried – in a cemetery or somewhere else? For unusual burial sites, your family would need to obtain special permits. Do you perhaps want to have your body or organs donated to science? You would need to make this very clear in pre-planning, as the arrangements for this are complex. If you want some kind of ceremony to be held, be specific about what you would want. Should it be religious, a serious memorial or an informal gathering to remember happy memories? Are there particular people you would want to speak at the ceremony or readings or music to be included?
- Put someone in charge. You definitely should have a conversation with all people to whom you are close and allow them space to express their worries, thoughts and suggestions. However, also be very specific in choosing one person who will be in charge overall. This avoids arguments later on and allows the process to proceed smoothly.
- Put It all in writing On a related point, while a conversation is crucial – also make sure that you write down all your wishes in your last will and testament. This means there will be a set record of what you want and you don’t depend on what different people remember at a later time. Put this note in a safe place and let someone you trust, know where it is.
- Makes sure you also have all the documents you need stored safely. While you are pre-planning, also make sure that you have all other documents that would be needed stored in a safe place. You can look at our previous articles on living wills, executors and wills for more information.
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