How to Plan for your own Funeral

Many people balk at the thought of planning their own funeral services, but it's the best way to ensure you have the exact funeral you want. Also, without the urgency of an impending burial, you can compare services and packages from various funeral service providers, as well as sparing your loved ones from the hassle of making these decisions under pressure and amidst the emotional weight.

Securing a burial location

This is perhaps the most important consideration to be made: will you be buried in the ground, and if so, where? Other options include cremation and entombment, or having your ashes scattered in some place of sentimental meaning to you. You can decide to buy burial grounds for you and your entire family, to ensure that you are close to your loved ones in your final resting place.

Pre-planning without pre-paying

An option might be to arrange for your burial place without paying in advance. However, the problem with this is that funeral costs may increase over time, and businesses where you had your last rites planned may be closed down. It is also possible that prices may decrease, so it makes sense not to pay from the outset. If you choose to do this, review your burial plan with the service provider every few years, and ensure that your family is aware that you have a plan laid out somewhere.

Have your decisions in writing and make copies to be distributed to your attorney and next of kin. These should be kept separately from your will, which is often read after your funeral has taken place. Don't place such documents in safety deposit boxes, especially if nobody else is aware that such a document exists. Using an attorney is the best way to ensure that your wishes can be accessed soon after your passing.

Pre-planning with pre-payment

Many people enter contractual arrangements where some or all of the funeral expenses are paid for in advance. For instance, you can buy the burial location only and leave the rest to be paid for on your passing. If you're considering paying for some or all of your expenses in advance, consider the following:

  • Ensure that your contract clearly outlines exactly what you are paying for: e.g. burial merchandise like vaults and caskets or funeral services. The latter should be listed in detail.
  • Find out what happens to your money on payment. Is there protection against future increases in price? Are there any special regulations applying to funds paid for prearranged funerals? Your lawyer can help with the latter
  • If your money is put into a trust account, does it accumulate any interest, and if so, what happens to this income?
  • How are you protected in case your funeral service provider goes out of business or otherwise ceases to exist?
  • What are the terms of cancelling any arrangements, including refunds, charges and durations before full cancellation?
  • What happens if you have to relocate, or if you die away from home? Certain providers offer the option of transferring your plans, but usually at an additional charge.