Planning Final Arrangements: Why Sooner than Later is Best

Planning Final Arrangements: Why Sooner than Later is Best

A wise decision that shows you care

No one wants to think about planning for their funeral. The death of someone you care for, together with wanting to make the right decision—especially when you have a limited amount of time to attend to all the details—leaves many families feeling overwhelmed.
Often these decisions must be made when a family is grieving and is the least prepared. Many people have done everything they can to protect their family’s future: invested wisely, opened savings accounts and acquired insurance on their life and home, but they haven’t taken care of their funeral arrangements—leaving one of the most difficult tasks to their loved ones to figure out at a time of sadness and loss. That’s why it’s so important to give serious thought to your wishes and to plan your services.

Did you know?

  • Pre-planning saves you money on your funeral
  • Planning is your best defense against inflation, rising cremation and funeral costs
  • A will is the worst place to communicate your funeral wishes

Record your wishes
Many people think they have taken care of everything by writing a will, establishing a living will or even purchasing their cemetery plot. But that’s not all. A will simply leaves instructions for the handling of an individual’s financial affairs, while a living will usually clarifies certain general wishes regarding medical treatment. The funeral or cremation service remains to be planned and paid for.
Your survivors benefit the most when you prearrange. When a funeral or cremation service is not prearranged, someone who may not be aware of your wishes may have to make all of the decisions. Prearranging ensures that your wishes are known. You should make sure that your wishes are recorded in writing and shared with family members and your attorney. You should also keep a copy with your important papers in a place that is easily accessible to your family members.

“Pre-planning allowed us to celebrate my mom’s life the way she wanted it. …Pre-planning takes all that stress away so that you have time to spend with your family. …If I could give you one piece of advice: pre-plan. It’s definitely the way to go.”

Why insurance may not be enough
Usually, life insurance, as well as final expense insurance, provides a one-time, lump-sum benefit after a death has occurred. However, there is no guarantee that the funds will not be consumed by the expenses that result from a long illness or serious accident.
Insurance cannot make the many decisions that are required at the time of need. Even with insurance in place, the actual funeral or cremation service still needs to be planned and paid for, and this can be a complicated task at a time of grief and loss. In addition, insurance policies are not protected against inflation. Prices of products and services will continue to rise while the amount of your policy coverage remains the same. Your survivors may not have enough left from the insurance proceeds to cover the higher cost of your funeral expenses.
If you plan to apply for Medicaid assistance for yourself or a loved one, a prearranged funeral agreement can be extremely beneficial in meeting your needs. In many states, a prearranged funeral or cremation service funded by life insurance may be treated as an exempt asset for Medicaid qualification purposes. This allows you to prearrange the service you desire while maintaining your assistance eligibility. Many states have no maximum limit for the amount of a prearranged funeral or cremation service. Please consult with your attorney before applying for Medicaid assistance to learn more about your state’s requirements.

How would you like to be remembered?
Your funeral or cremation service can be personalized to reflect your wishes and should bring comfort to your family and friends. Today no two services are alike.
Videos, photographs, music, special readings and the involvement of family and friends are all appropriate and encouraged. Prearranging gives you the opportunity to become informed about your options in an unpressured environment when you have the time to think things through. You’re in full control, and you can select and specify the services that truly have meaning to you and your family.
Through accomplishments, relationships, passions, and traditions, each life is a story like no other. So to create a fitting tribute, think about what style of ceremony would perfectly capture your essence. A good place to start, whether you are planning for yourself or a loved one, is to think about what is meaningful. Has travel been a passion? Sports? Dancing? Family and traditions? Your vision can be fulfilled with flair and expertise, from floral bouquets, music, and mementos to a fully catered reception.

About The Author:
The Dignity Memorial® network is North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation, and cemetery services. Locally, in San Diego, the network includes 18 funeral homes and two cemeteries. For more information, email Melissa.martinez2@dignitymemorial.com or visit their website.