Your Funeral – How Much Say Will You Have?

151019_EM_CostofFuneralPlanning your funeral can save your loved ones extra stress in a time of grief. But there are several things to consider: Do you want to be buried in a cemetery?  If so, which one and where?  Do you want to be entombed in a mausoleum?  Or do you want to be cremated?  If so, who should care for or place your remains and where do you want them?  In a home or Columbarium?  Or should your remains be spread about?  Almost anything is possible with some forethought.

You can choose the funeral home long before you need it and even pay for all or part of the services in advance. If you choose this route, make sure the services are guaranteed at the contracted price. Some contracts call for additional “final expense funding.” This means that should prices increase, your loved ones will be left paying the difference.

Also ask about these issues:

  • If you change your mind, can you get all or part of your money back?
  • Will your money earn interest? If so, how much? Who gets it?
  • What happens if the funeral home goes out of business?

Another option is to buy a life insurance policy that can be used for funeral expenses.  You need to think carefully about who you make the beneficiary of such a policy.  Even a loved one who has financial problems may have better places to spend a windfall than on your funeral.

Whatever you choose to do, make copies of all documents, giving files to appropriate family members and your executor.  Some clients keep these documents in their safe deposit box, but I usually discourage that for the same reason I discourage placing funeral directions in your Will.  The reason – many times a person’s funeral is long past before the Will is located or brought out for review.  By that time it is too late to comply with many of those directions.

If you would like to learn more about various possibilities for appointing someone to handle your arrangements and your remains and documenting your wishes, contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

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