Pre-planning funeral arrangements will help your loved ones in a time of despair.
In the 1988 hit film Beetlejuice, the main characters, Adam and Barbara, experience an untimely death. They're destined to spend the afterlife in their home, until a living family buys the house and moves in. Their cinematic life-after-death would have gone more smoothly for all involved if Adam and Barbara had done some pre-planning. Funeral arrangements and estate guidelines would have helped them avoid the living!
No one knows when their time in this life is up. That's one of the reasons to begin pre-planning funeral arrangements, financial directives such as inheritances, and even your estate. When you establish a plan, your family and heirs can rest easy knowing the future is taken care of.
Pre-planning: funeral arrangements
There's more to planning a funeral than just calling up your local funeral home. While we hope that your time is still in the distant future, this list will help you put your affairs in order so your loved ones can mourn without the worry of handling extra burdens. Ultimately, pre-planning funeral arrangements is for the benefit of your family.
1. Notifications and considerations
Make a list of people who should be notified of your death. This list may include relatives, friends, your employer, and any clubs or organizations to which you belong. Include phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses if possible.
Once you choose a funeral home, add their information to the list, as well as the contact information for the administrator of your will. The more details you can list, the easier it will be to locate and contact the necessary people and services.
2. Funeral service specifics
What kind of funeral service do you want? Do you want one at all? Be sure this is written into your end-of-life plan. If you want a traditional religious ceremony, talk to your church about how to make the arrangements. If you prefer a brass band and a horse-drawn carriage, you may need to write it out in some detail for your loved ones to carry out.
3. To be or not to be (buried)
You have choices for your afterlife accommodations, and as you can imagine, prices vary accordingly. You can choose burial in a casket, cremation, or environmentally conscious options such as biodegradable coffins or turning your ashes into a diamond.
If you opt for a traditional burial, you can purchase a burial plot and coffin ahead of time. You can also select and plan your memorial stone. Other accommodations have plan-ahead options available, so look into your choice ahead of time.
Pre-planning: financials and insurance
Funeral services are designed to help mourners handle the death of a loved one. Financial and insurance planning are created to cover the cost of funeral expenses and also to take care of your family once you're gone. You can approach this in a variety of ways, so use this as a starting point.
1. Ensure policies are in order
Check your insurance and retirement policies to be sure that beneficiaries are properly listed. You should indicate a primary and a secondary beneficiary to guarantee that your benefits are paid out to whomever you choose. Be sure to check any pension, 401(k), and IRA accounts, too.
2. Review your bank account
If your name is the only one on your bank account, it will be up to a judge to determine what happens to the account. Avoid that situation by making it a joint account, adding a "payable-on-death" beneficiary, or setting your account up as a trust with a designated beneficiary. It's usually easy to make changes to your account, but discuss the specifics with your banker or lawyer if necessary.
3. List your accounts and policies
Your loved ones will have enough to handle after you pass away. Make it as easy on them as possible by creating a list of policies and accounts. It could take months or years to find and settle bank accounts, savings bonds, or investment accounts.
Include everything, even if you aren't sure they'll have funds in them. It will be better for your family to have the cash than to have it sit untouched and gathering dust.
Speaking of planning ahead (for the much distant future, we hope), no one wants to leave their family with the burden of debt and funeral expenses. Make it easier for your family by investing in funeral pre-planning.
Do you have any advice to share about pre-planning funeral arrangements? Share your thoughts in the comments!