Many Americans are coming to view the planning of their own funerals as a part of estate planning. Such planning may or may not involve pre-paying for the arrangements. As a point of reference, life expectancies are rising in this country. According to a 2015 report conducted by the National Institute of Aging, living to 100 is becoming increasingly commonplace and according to National Vital Statistics data, men can expect to live for 73.8 years, while women are living for roughly 79.5 years.
Pre-planning affords you the opportunity to shop around for the best prices, the best services and a funeral home that suits you. Many people, particularly those who are ill and know that death is imminent, may find the process brings a sense of relief, of tidying up, of control. They may also decide to sign advance directives, documentation that authorizes another to make medical and financial decisions for them should they become incapacitated.
Remember that the Funeral Rule states that consumers have the right to choose the goods and services they want, subject to state law, and to decline others. The funeral home must recognize these rights in writing.
Pre-planning a funeral
According to Worthlin Worldwide, while 84% of those surveyed indicated that they’d prefer to plan their own funerals, only a quarter of had actually made any arrangements. The study was based on interviews with more women (60%) than men, noting that women are known to be the primary decision-makers when it comes to memorialization.
Many of us find ourselves faced with the unexpected death of a close friend or family member — and don’t know what to do. We tend to avoid discussing the logistics of death, which leaves us ill prepared if called upon to cope.
It’s not enough to make arrangements for your funeral: you have to tell people that you’ve done so. If no one knows of the plans you’ve diligently made and the services you’ve paid for, there’s a real risk that your family may make — and pay for — their own arrangements. Don’t let that happen. Make at least a couple of people aware of what you want and any instructions and related information. Write it all down. Grieving family members, hastily gathered and swamped with organizational details, don’t want to be arguing about their recollections of your final wishes.
It’s not a good idea to put such instructions with your will; a will is often not found, or not read, for a few weeks after a death.