After the death of a loved one, surviving family members must often answer between 100 – 200 questions before any kind of funeral or memorial service can take place. What’s your loved one’s mother’s maiden name? What is their social security number? For veterans, do you have a copy of the DD-214? Needless to say, pulling together all the answers while grieving a recent loss can feel overwhelming. That’s why advance funeral planning is such a great idea.
What is Advance Funeral Planning?
In short, advance funeral planning is sitting down with a funeral professional to think through and write down (and possibly fund) your final wishes. Like a will, you can put your wishes in writing at any age. But what exactly does advance funeral planning do? Let’s dive into it a little more.
1. Advance Planning Gives Peace of Mind
Remember those 100 – 200 questions? By answering them ahead of time, you save your family from having to do it in the future. The first few days after a loss are hazy and can feel like a dark cloud has descended. Having to plan a funeral or memorial in the midst of all those emotions is hard. With advance funeral planning, you alleviate the burden that will fall on your loved ones to plan and pay for your funeral services. That’s a weight off your shoulders – and theirs!
2. Advance Planning Helps Prevent Family Disagreements
One of the biggest family tensions after the death of a loved one can happen when surviving family members disagree on service details, dates, and times. Some lean toward cremation; others burial. Some want a private service; others a public one. With advance funeral planning, they don’t have to guess what you want – they know. You can remove uncertainty and doubt, empowering your loved ones to make decisions with confidence.
3. Advance Planning Gives You Time to Create a Personalized Final Tribute
It’s difficult to plan a truly meaningful funeral in mere hours, especially when feelings of grief are so near the surface. Advance planning allows you to thoughtfully plan and prepare a funeral service (burial or cremation) that will fulfill your wishes and meet the emotional needs of your family and friends. A thoughtfully planned service is a healthy first step for your network of supporters on their individual grief journeys.
4. Advance Planning Saves Money
There are several ways advance planning helps your family save money in the long run.
Prevents emotional overspending
When your family doesn’t know what your wishes are, they may be tempted to seek “only the best” (i.e., most expensive) options and end up emotionally overspending. With advance planning, you can make your selections with a clear, rational mind rather than one affected by emotional strain. In this way, you control the ending cost and save your family money in the long run.
Protects against inflation
If you decide to prefund as well as preplan your funeral arrangements, many funeral homes will guarantee in writing that the funeral services and merchandise itemized on your contract will be covered by your prepaid funeral insurance policy at the time of death. A prepaid funeral policy grows over time and often covers all inflation costs.
Plus, if you have a prepaid funeral insurance policy, funds will become available for use immediately. If you rely on life insurance proceeds to pay for a service, it could be six to eight weeks before any funds become available to your family. That means your surviving family members will likely have to pay for the service out of pocket before the life insurance claim is paid out.
Helps you qualify for Medicaid coverage
If you anticipate that you will apply for Medicaid in the future, you can spend down your assets with a prepaid funeral plan. If you place your funeral funds into an irrevocable contract, then whatever funds you place in the contract will be considered exempt assets for Medicaid purposes. In this way, you help yourself qualify for Medicaid while ensuring that your money benefits your family. Click here to learn more.
How to Get Started
Now that you know what advance planning is and how it benefits both you and your family, the best next step is to talk with a preplanning specialist.
Once you select the funeral home you want to partner with (here are some tips for that), give them a call, send an email, connect on Facebook or just stop by their business. They will have a qualified funeral preplanning specialist on staff who will work with you to iron out all the details for your funeral wishes. They will educate you on all the options, so you can make informed decisions regarding your plans. And best of all, their assistance is free!
In many ways, the most loving thing we can do is take care of as much as possible in advance. The future may be uncertain, but with advance planning, you can make a difference in the lives of the people who matter most.