How To Pre-Plan Your Own Funeral

There are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to be part of the funeral planning when it comes to your end of life final wishes.  During such an emotional time, it helps loved ones to alleviate the additional stress and give peace of mind to those having to make all the decisions associated with traditional funeral arrangements. By taking care of such logistics like funeral costs and final expenses in advance then family and close friends can begin the healing process all the sooner.

Most importantly the family does not have to shoulder the burden of trying to remember everything their loved one would have wanted in their final arrangements. The average person does not have much funeral planning know-how and having to learn this while trying to grieve can make things that much more difficult.

Funeral Pre-Planning Checklist

Any element of a funeral from cremation, to caskets, to embalming can be pre-arranged. This may seem overwhelming to have to think about every aspect of things like the service itself, arrangements for a post-funeral reception, and a burial at the cemetery, but it can all be done by simply following an organized funeral planning checklist. In this way nothing is left out of the pre-planning process.

What Type of Burial and Interment is Best?

This should always be the first element of any pre-arranged funeral planning guide conversation. You don’t want to have your loved ones to have to worry about this because it can make a difference in the arrangements that are made with a funeral home. First, let them know ahead of time if your wishes are for burial or cremation. Afterward decide the type of interment and what type of service is desirable based on the burial. This should all be put in writing in your will as part of pre-planning your funeral. Here is a brief breakdown of the most common internment types:

  • Caskets – There are a multitude of styles and casket materials to choose from either at the funeral home or from a dedicated casket dealer. The prices vary depending mostly upon the durability of the casket material over time and the custom design that may be added to the casket itself. This may include special lining and decorative accouterments to the exterior.
  • Cremation – Once cremation occurs, there is as wide a variety of urns to choose from as there are casket designs. The major difference is urns can be more easily customized. This can include sports symbols, favorite activities and hobbies, and even pictures or engravings.
  • Cremation Casket – There are actual caskets that can be bought for the cremation itself that are relatively inexpensive and made from non-metal material. A casket can also be rented from the funeral home and used during the funeral viewing and service before cremation occurs.
  • Green Burial – This type of burial is gaining popularity as of late, and it consists of returning the body, in the most natural way, to the earth. If you are interested in this option check out our blog about Natural Burials.

Who will the Funeral Director Be?

Because the funeral home you choose helps you through most of the choices you will make for your burial, service, and all the small details that go along with both of these things, it is crucial to pick one that you know your family can trust. Ask around to friends and family about who they have used in the past and their experience with that funeral home to find one you can depend on to carry out your wishes accordingly.

When you make your choice, you will typically begin your funeral pre planning at the funeral home. This person or team of funeral professionals will walk you through your entire checklist to ensure you have not forgotten anything. Here are some examples:

  • Funeral home viewing for family and friends (can include a private viewing for family only.
  • Customized service needs (religious or non-religious ceremony or memorial service only).
  • The location of the service (funeral home, graveside service, religious location, or other location).
  • Obituary – this can be written in advance during pre-planning or created with the help of the funeral home director.

Ceremonial Planning

Any funeral service will include a variety of specific ceremonial details including some or all of the following items:

  • Choosing an officiator for the order of service – this may include a priest, preacher, or other religious professional. It may even be someone chosen from the funeral home if you have no specific religious affiliation.
  • Designated pallbearers – This is a list of family and friends that have been chosen by the deceased or designated family member.
  • Speakers (eulogy and other remembrances) – This is a list of people the deceased would like to read a favorite prayer, poem, or other reading.
  • List of guests – If a private service is selected, they can make a list of who they would want to attend this as a limited-attendance ceremony.
  • Funeral Songs – This list can include naming specific religious hymns to be played at the ceremony as well as other types of music played by a live ensemble or on a CD over a sound system. Here are some great options for music if you are looking for advice.
  • Floral arrangements – This usually includes choosing the arrangements for the casket itself as well as a few customized designs surrounding the casket. These may include flowers that spell out "MOM" or "DAD".

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Important Documents and Costs to Consider

The payment process for a pre-arranged funeral can vary depending upon the funeral home that is chosen. Typically, a pre planned funeral can be paid for with a variety of payment arrangements including paying incrementally as you finalize each part of the pre-planning process. Some arrangements do not need to be prepaid, so having a life insurance policy can help cover the costs of a funeral.

It is also very important that family or close friends know where to find important documentation. This includes things such as birth certificates, social security cards and any investment portfolios. You may also consider making your pre planned funeral program template available as a printable worksheet to help confirm your end-of-life plans. This will make the process easier for those in charge of honoring your wishes.

Many people also choose to have monetary donations given to their favorite charity in lieu of flowers being sent to the funeral home. In this case, a list of charities should be created that any loved one can choose from to send their donation to on the deceased’s behalf which should also be included in the obituary.

Cemetery Arrangements

If there is a need for a cemetery as your final resting place, a funeral director can supply a list of them from nearly any area in which a loved one may pick to be buried. But, some other very important things need to be taken into consideration first:

  • Religion – There are many cemeteries that cater to only certain faiths because of religious restrictions.
  • Space – Consider if you are buying one or more plots and if these plots need to be near each other. You may also want to consider a mausoleum space if ground space is limited.
  • Environment –Is the cemetery well-kept? Take a drive and check it out.

Post-Funeral Reception or Wake

A post funeral wake or reception is always an optional element to include when you plan your funeral day. However it is one that gives everyone who has had a meaningful relationship with the deceased time to gather together and reminisce about the dearly departed. This could be a favorite restaurant, local hall, or a religious space connected to the deceased. If you are looking for ideas about planning a wake check out our blog here.

Pre Planning Can Help

Losing someone you care for is always going to be difficult. Knowing how much you care for those you may leave behind can help inform your reason for pre planning your funeral. Making this process a bit easier for them is one final way to show how much you care. If you need any help in this process including getting prayer cards, funeral programs, thank you cards or guest sign-in books then contact us right away.

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