A Starter Guide to Funeral Planning

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A Starter Guide to Funeral Planning

The thought of preparing your own funeral might make you uncomfortable but it’s actually a positive thing. By taking action in advance, you seize control of your future and spare your loved ones the stress of planning—and paying for—your end-of-life services. Here’s how to seize control of the situation and assure peace of mind for yourself and your family.


Figure out how to pay for it


Funerals are not cheap. The average cost of a funeral including viewing and burial adds up to between $7,000 and $10,000. You don’t want your relatives to have to cover that out-of-pocket, adding financial stress while they are in the midst of mourning.


One way around this is to invest in burial insurance. When you pass on, this coverage can be used to pay for final arrangements. Until then, you pay a monthly premium, which can be as little as $16.


How much you pay depends on personal factors like gender, age, and health. Different plans vary in cost as well. For example, you can even get plans that also cover expenses like remaining medical bills and personal loans after you pass. Since survivors can be held responsible for those debts, consider how much coverage you want.


In addition to arranging insurance, you can also look for ways to cut costs as you start planning the details of your funeral. The Federal Trade Commission requires funeral homes to disclose precise details for the goods and services they provide.


Upon request, they must give you an itemized list of costs covering everything from caskets to transportation prices. Refer to this information to shop around for a provider that best suits your needs.


This information can also inform your decisions. If you’re trying to save, for example, the style of casket you choose makes a big difference. A simple metal casket ranges from $1,200 to $5,000 while a high-end casket can start at $15,000.


Create a detailed plan


Of course, funeral planning isn’t just about money. This event is a chance for your friends and family to celebrate your life. You want to make it meaningful and in line with your personal style.


Basic funeral planning allows you to control all the details. There are practical matters to consider, such as whether you want to be buried and cremated—and where you want to be buried or want your ashes kept. Then there are logistical issues, such as whether you want to have a viewing at a church and then a burial at a cemetery.


On top of that, there are personalized, sentimental aspects to consider. Do you have a preference for what types of flowers are at the funeral? Is there certain music you would like to have played, or a specific Bible verse or secular poem you want to have read aloud? Should the ceremony be religious? Should anybody speak?


There are all highly personal details that it’s best to answer yourself instead of leaving them as guesswork for your loved ones. Unfortunately, disagreements about end-of-life services can lead to familial disputes, so this is one more way to help those you love after you’re gone.


Store the details somewhere safe


Making a detailed funeral plan is of little use if nobody knows where to find it. Lawyers recommend writing down all these specifics in a comprehensive letter to loved ones. Then tell someone you trust where you are keeping this valuable documentation.


You can store it in a safe place alongside your estate planning paperwork. According to LegalZoom, secure places to store legal documents include a safe deposit box, with an attorney, or in a fireproof safe in the home. While you are taking care of your advanced funeral planning, you may also take the time to handle your estate planning by creating a will or trust.


Take these steps to ensure that all your end-of-life administration is prepared. This allows you to control important details after your death, from where you are buried to who inherits your assets. You can then rest easy knowing that your loved ones won’t have added stress and that your wishes will be respected.