Preparing for a funeral may seem intimidating, but making your plans and wishes in advance allows you to decide on the specific items you want and need. Because funeral expenses can place a financial burden on families, comparing prices for services and products ahead of time can significantly reduce the burden on your loved ones.
Use the following funeral planning checklist to help guide you in making these difficult decisions.
Burial or cremation?
The first step in planning your funeral is deciding between burial and cremation. With either choice, you can opt for immediate burial or cremation with no funeral services.
If you decide burial is right for you, you will want to decide if you wish to be given a traditional or ‘green’ burial. Traditional burials require the purchase of a casket and often come with reinforcement for the grave. Green burials are more environmentally friendly – with no embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products and a biodegradable shroud or casket.
Cremation may require the purchase of an urn and locating a place to store or scatter the ashes. A relatively new cremation option is alkaline hydrolysis, which is a water-based dissolution process using alkaline chemicals, heat, and agitation.
Finding a funeral home
Once you have decided on your final arrangements, you can begin to shop around for a funeral home and director. Be sure to speak with several different funeral homes to find one you are comfortable with.
Whether your funeral will be followed by a burial or with a cremation, you or your loved ones will work closely with the funeral home to finalize arrangements for the cremation or cemetery services. If you are planning a cremation followed by a memorial service rather than a funeral, plan your final arrangements directly with the crematory.
Final resting place
Whether you choose cremation or burial, you will need to select your final resting place. You will have options regarding grave design and casket choice that you can include in your funeral planning.
If you choose cremation, some cemeteries offer designated areas where cremated remains are buried. You may wish to have your ashes scattered. Be sure to check with a funeral director in the area you wish to have the ashes scattered to ensure it is permitted.
Designing your service
If you prefer a service, you have a range of options to consider, from a traditional church funeral followed by burial to an at-home funeral or memorial service. A traditional funeral normally involves a service with the casket present, either open or closed. A memorial service typically involves a gathering or service without the casket present. Some include other events like wakes and viewings in their plans.
Don't feel pressured to plan every detail of your service or memorial. Your loved ones will likely want to participate in remembering and celebrating you, so build guidelines and direction for them to follow, but allow them to contribute as well. You can also identify the people you would like to serve as pallbearers should you decide to be buried.
Share your final wishes
Finally, and most importantly, make these arrangements known to your friends and family. Collaborate with them and get their input and recommendations, and be sure to put all of your decisions in writing.
Although planning your funeral in advance might seem morbid or even frightening, sharing your planning process with loved ones can make things go smoothly when it comes time to carry out your final wishes.
Funeral funding options
Once you have laid out your plans, you can begin to estimate your funeral costs. When making your plans, ask about pricing and options for payment. The average cost of a funeral in the United States is about $9,000, not including flowers, obituary costs, transportation and other extras that may increase the price further.
Figuring out the best way to cover your burial costs can be the most important part of your funeral checklist. There are many different ways to fund a funeral in advance. One of the most common is called final expense life insurance.
You can purchase a final expense life insurance policy to fund your funeral arrangements. Final expense life insurance – also called “burial insurance” or “funeral insurance” – is a type of whole life policy. Most whole life policies have premiums and benefits locked in for the life of the policy as long as premiums are paid. Final expense insurance is specifically designed to cover end-of-life expenses such as funeral costs.
Because most final expense policies are relatively small, they’re extremely affordable and work well for people on a fixed budget.
If you have questions about final expense insurance, Lincoln Heritage offers one of the country’s most trusted final expense plans –the Funeral Advantage™ program. The Funeral Advantage program saved policyholder families thousands of dollars on funeral expenses last year alone. Our licensed agents can help you find a policy that’s right for you.< Back to Consumer Resources