If you are planning a funeral, you have a limited amount of time to make lasting decisions. Here are five of the most important issues to keep in mind when planning a funeral:1. Honor the last wishes of the deceased to the greatest extent possible. Try to locate any estate planning documents that express the decedentís memorial preferences.2. Determine how much the decedentís estate or the next of kin can afford to spend on funeral services and disposition of remains before making final arrangements. Funeral arrangements can sometimes create a significant financial burden.3. Try to select a time and location for funeral services that the mourners can attend. While it is rarely possible to accommodate the schedules of everyone that wants to attend, make an effort to plan services that the loved ones of the deceased will be able to attend without great inconvenience.
4. Take steps to ensure that the funeral and burial plans will follow and observe the religious traditions or practices that were important to the deceased. Determine if the decedent left any memorial preferences or funeral planning instructions. If you are unsure about the appropriate procedures to follow with respect to the decedentís faith, consult someone at the decedentís place of worship before making final arrangements.5. When purchasing funeral products and services, such as a casket, flower arrangements, music and song choices for funerals, a hearse, and monument, try to make selections that reflect what the deceased person would have chosen rather than what you may prefer. Whenever possible, make selections that the person being remembered would appreciate or that would comfort the next of kin.
How to Make a Funeral More Meaningful
If you are planning a funeral, memorial service or wake, remember to purchase a funeral guest book to place on a table at the entrance to the service. Allowing visitors to sign a funeral guest book is an important way to make them feel welcome and more at ease when they enter the funeral home. It also serves as a memento for survivors.If you are struggling to come up with ideas about how to make a funeral more special, you can get some ideas by reading about popular last wishes.If you want all friends and family to be able to participate in the funeral but many of them live far away, consider using technology to help resolve the problem. Ask the funeral director whether funeral webcasts are an option.
Consider this famous quote about funerals: "You never remember who came to the funeral, but you never forget who didn't." Monie Begley
Funeral Planning Books
For a comprehensive guide to planning a funeral or memorial service, review our list of best selling funeral planning books.The Pennyborn.com Funeral Planning Guide was updated on June 3, 2017.
Free Funeral Planning Guide
Whether you are planning your own funeral by leaving written instructions or making final arrangements after the death of a loved one, Pennyborn's free Funeral Planning Guide provides answers to the most frequently asked questions on everything from how to write an epitaph to what a typical funeral service costs. Browse the sections of our Funeral Planning Guide below.
Paying Funeral and Burial Costs
One of the best reasons to use our free Funeral Planning Guide is to save money. When most people are placed in the difficult position of planning a funeral, they have no idea what it should cost or how much to pay. If you are like me, you may feel awkward asking the funeral home director how much each item costs. It seems inappropriate to put a price on funeral and burial services for someone you love. But you will probably find the total price for a funeral, burial or cremation is much higher than you expect. Our free Funeral Planning Guide lets you become informed about prices before you go to the funeral home.To see the average price range in the U.S. for different elements involved in final arrangements, including the cost of a viewing, casket, use of the funeral home, funeral services, burial services, cremation, and the cost of cemetery plots, see
can I afford a funeral and
funeral and burial expenses.When making an estate plan, people often purchase life insurance policies in an effort to ensure there will be funds available to pay their funeral costs. In some circumstances, there are advantages to setting up a funeral trust to pay for final arrangements. Also, many mortuaries and funeral homes have programs that let people pay for funeral and burial services in advance. To learn more, see
prepaying for funerals.If you are working with a lawyer on Medicaid planning to prepare for nursing home care, you may also be interested in whether you can set aside funds to pay for your funeral. Information on exempt amounts for funeral expenses is on our
Funerals and Medicaid Planning page.
If the estate of the deceased does not have sufficient funds to pay for the disposition of remains, there are programs available to help pay for burial and cremation, as discussed on our
burial assistance page.
Making Arrangements for Burial
If you are making final arrangements for a loved one, you may not be aware how many different choices there are for burial. For information on the decisions you will need to make, review our overview of burial options.Before you can order a headstone or grave marker, you will need to make a decision about whether to use an epitaph. If you decide you want to include an epitaph, see
how to write an epitaph. For a list of epitaphs you may want to use and examples of epitaphs others have written, refer to our
list of epitaphs.If you or a relative purchased a burial plot but no longer want to use the plot, you may need to sell the space or transfer it before you can settle the estate. For the steps you need to take, read
when last wishes about cemetery plot change.
Planning a Funeral in Advance
Making final arrangements in advance is not for everyone. As an estate planning attorney, I quickly noticed how many people become very uncomfortable, and even emotionally upset, when you ask them to make decisions about cremation, burial, and final resting place. However, other people want to be in control of these matters and have no problem saying clearly and directly how they want their funeral plans to be handled. If you are unsure whether you want to leave instructions for your executor or next of kin, review these
Reasons to Plan Your Funeral.There are many steps involved in making final arrangements. Unless you have done it several times for other family members, you may overlook important details or overpay for funeral products and services due to a lack of experience. For detailed instructions on how to complete the process, go to
How to Plan Your Funeral.Leaving written instructions for your survivors is an essential step in planning your funeral and making an estate plan. The good news is this step only takes a few minutes to complete. All you need to do is write a simple last wishes letter.When someone in your life has a terminal illness or is in long term care for an extended period of time, you may be required to contemplate funeral arrangements for that person. Nevertheless, this is a delicate subject that some family members may not want to discuss. Before speaking about burial or cremation, consider When is it Okay to Discuss Final Arrangements?