Pre Planning a Funeral
 Published: 5/9/2012 4:15:44 PM

The Need to Pre-Plan

One of the most difficult times in a person's life is when a loved one passes away. Following the death of a loved one, decisions must be made when survivors are already burdened with grief. However, by thinking ahead of time, you can make informed and thoughtful decisions regarding your final wishes. Pre-planning allows you to choose the specific goods and services you want, while you also have the opportunity to compare prices. Additionally, planning ahead and committing your wishes to paper spares survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressures of time and strong emotions.

Funeral Pre Planning
Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about making final arrangements.

Many people pre-plan final funeral arrangements either for themselves or for a loved one. Even though pre-planning a funeral may not seem like a pleasant thought at first, most people eventually take comfort in knowing that their loved ones won't be faced with these difficult decisions at the time of need.

Most importantly, pre-planning final arrangements ensures that your wishes will be followed and important decisions will not be imposed on those experiencing grief. Information may be needed that only you know, and  pre-planning gets this information down on paper before it may become lost.

Tips for Pre-Planning a Funeral

When you make the decision to begin planning ahead for your final arrangements, it's a good idea to make a list of all the things you want, as well as things you don't want. Once you believe you've covered almost everything, keep your list in an easily accessible location, or make a copy of the list and give it to  trusted family members or friends. Remember that you can always make changes to your wishes as time goes by, but it's important to have someone fully informed of your decisions. One of the biggest problems people face when making at-need funeral arrangements for a family member or friend is that they are unsure about what the deceased person would have wanted. Writing down your wishes ahead of time will help to better guide those in charge to make the right choices.

Although it may seem related, it's important not to include your final funeral preferences in your will, because often a will is not found or read until after the funeral is already over. You should also avoid putting only one copy of your written wishes in a safety deposit box, because it may not be possible for survivors to access the safe immediately, especially if the arrangements have to be made over a weekend or during a holiday.

To help relieve other family members of some of these necessary decisions, many people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and sometimes even paying for them in advance. Some people view funeral pre-planning simply as an extension of will and estate planning. If you decide to make formal funeral pre-arrangements with a local funeral home or mortuary, many details will be discussed during the pre-arrangement conference that you otherwise might not have considered without the guidance of a funeral director. A pre-arrangement conference consists of two main parts: gathering vital biographical information; and selecting funeral-related goods and services. Here are some general questions to think about prior to making a formal pre-arrangement with a local funeral home:

  • Do you want a formal traditional funeral or memorial service?
  • What will be the method of final disposition?
  • Will there be a viewing? If so, how many days and at what times?
  • Where will the viewing and funeral or memorial service be held?
  • Where will the final resting place be?
  • Will an obituary be published before the services, after, or not at all?
  • What type of casket, outer burial container, cremation urn will best suit your needs?
  • If a viewing is to be held, will you need to purchase burial garments from the funeral home, or will you provide other clothing?
  • Do you want personalized memorial cards? If so, what prayer or poem should be used?
  • Will you need a guest book or acknowledgement cards?
  • How many official transcripts of the death certificate will you need to order?
  • Will you have a funeral breakfast or luncheon following the services?
  • Would you request donations be made to a special charity in your memory?


You can also pre-pay funeral costs ahead of time, so to help lessen a financial burden on your surviving loved ones. While pre-planning funeral arrangements takes care of all the specifics regarding your final wishes, there is a difference between pre-planning and pre-paying. In addition to pre-planning, many people also pre-pay funeral costs by entereing into contracts with funeral homes. Methods for pre-paying include paying the funeral home directly, assigning the life insurance policy death benefits to the funeral home, or opening a funeral reserve account at a bank (this is a special kind of bank account and these types of accounts are not available at all banks).

If you're thinking about pre-paying for funeral goods and services, it's important to consider these issues before putting down any money:

  • What are you are paying for? Are you buying only merchandise, like a casket and vault, or are you purchasing funeral services as well?
  • What happens to the money you've pre-paid? States have different requirements for handling funds paid for pre-arranged funeral services.
  • What happens to the interest income on money that is pre-paid and put into a trust account?
  • Are you protected in the event the firm you dealt with goes out of business?
  • Can you cancel the contract and get a full refund if you change your mind?
  • What happens if you move to a different area or die while away from home?

Always remember to keep you closest family members or friends aware of what you are doing. Let them know where important documents are located. If your family hasn't been informed about the decisions you've made, your plans may not be carried out. If family members don't know that you've pre-paid the funeral costs, they could end up paying for the same arrangements. You may wish to consult an attorney on the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed.

  Posted in Funerals » General Information  |  Tagged: cremation urns, funeral urns, cremation jewelry
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