Talking About Death and Funeral Planning

Death and Funeral Planning

Why are Funeral Planning and Death

Considered Taboo Conversations?

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.

As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes.  However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.

Fear of Death and Dying

It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement.  There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.

Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.

Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.

Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos

If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.

According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000.  Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available.  So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.

An Open Conversation About Death

Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.

If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered.  This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.

Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.

Conclusion

Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.

Article contributed by Memorials of Distinction

Preplan Your Funeral

Funeral Costs

Top 10 Reasons to PrePlan Your Funeral

When You Die, Show Your Family How Much You Love Them…
Minimize Their Emotional and Financial Pressures

When you die, it should be obvious that your family and loved ones will be emotionally devastated as they try to cope with this grief and loss, but adding the stress of funeral costs and funeral plans is a burden you can help relieve.  So knowing these facts, one of the greatest gifts of love is to minimize (or preferably eliminate) as much of the emotional and financial pressures as possible.

The sad reality is that more than 70% of those who die today fail to leave behind as much as a Last Will for their family and loved ones.  As unacceptable as that may sound, it gets even worse.  More than 85% of those who die today leave their family with no knowledge of their end of life plans, preferences, or how to pay for their funeral expenses.

Top 10 Reasons to Preplan Your Funeral

1.  Upon your passing, most people don’t have any idea how to get started, what they should know, or who they can turn to.  If you preplan a funeral or burial arrangements, this significantly minimizes the stress and pressures that can accompany such a difficult time of grief and loss.

2.  This advanced planning offers you the opportunity to decide and control just about every detail of your memorial service and how you will be remembered.

3.  By documenting your last wishes, you can ensure that you and your remains are handled, cared for, and placed somewhere that fits you and your preference.

4.  By creating a plan for your final affairs, this can also minimize or eliminate any uncertainties or disputes among your family members. For example, one of the small details that can actually cause serious family disagreements are special family heirlooms.

5.  Preplanning takes the guesswork out of the common questions of “what do we do next” or “what would you have wanted”? A properly structured preplan ensures that your loved ones know exactly what to do, as well as instructions on how to most efficiently implement your bequests.

6.  After suffering the loss of a loved one, some of the biggest challenges your family will face are thing like time constraints, little or no experience with these matters, and limited access to the best possible help and guidance.  Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of creating a sound end of life plan is that, if it is properly structured, it can reduce (or even eliminate) the large majority of these difficulties.

7.  Through preplanning your funeral, as well as paying for your burial and covering your final expenses in advance, this creates a much better overall experience and memorial service for you, your family, and even your Funeral Director.

8.  Since preplanning reduces or avoids a great deal of the obstacles involved in planning a funeral, this extra time allows your family to work through other important matters such as dealing with the grief and loss, planning your memorial service, notifying your loved ones, creating your obituary, writing a funeral eulogy, etc.  The more free time your family has, the much more likely it is they can create a truly special celebration of your life and memories.

9.  After completing your preplanning preferences for your family, this actually ends up enhancing your future too. By having these details planned out in advance, you can now enjoy the “peace of mind” to live every day knowing that you have taken the time to leave behind one of the greatest gifts of love.

10.  By selflessly taking the time to create a comprehensive end of life plan, you will always be remembered in a special way. Your family and loved ones will never forget the fact that you sacrificed your time and resources to take care of these all-important details. In reality, what you’ve done is created an everlasting memory that shows just how much you truly love the ones you care most about.

Action Item – Give Your Family What They Deserve:

When it comes to the things that are important in our lives, proper planning and preparation are some of the key to a successful outcome.  In this situation, my sincere hope is that these 10 reasons serve as an inspiration and incentive to start this planning and preparation today, and become proactive about these all-important estate planning matters. 

Although most families never talk about these kinds of things, just about every family member and loved one would prefer to have these plans in place.  Quite frankly, I think they should demand this from you.  So at the very least, leave your family with two things they absolutely deserve:

1) A Last Will or Living Trust
2) A comprehensive end of life plan, which includes pre-arranging your final plans, preferences, and also your funeral costs

I can assure you that your family will thank you, see how much you loved and cared about them, and also remember your efforts as being one of the greatest gifts you have ever given them.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

How to Create an Solid End of Life Plan

End of Life Planning

Your Family-Focused Gift of Love

Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next. Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to.

Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating and choosing a Last Will or Living Trust.

However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family’s immediate concerns.

The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame…usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help them tremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.

Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time.  To preplan a funeral gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end of life plan.

When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:
* Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
* Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
* Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process
* Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
* Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
* Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
* Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
* Itemize your costs
* The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled “Caskets and Burial Vaults” (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.
* The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge.

What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?

Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging or a Pre Need Plan) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.

Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.

When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:

Savings

Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.

Life Insurance


Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.

In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.

Funeral Insurance

Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more.

Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies.

Pre-Need Trust Agreements

Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.

Take the First Step Today

In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Three Main Reasons Families Seek Funeral Planning Help Online

Funeral Planning Help

Three Most Common Reasons Families

Need Help Planning a Funeral

There are three common situations where families need funeral planning information, guidance, and support:

1. A loved one has recently passed:

One of the best ways to reduce the stress and pressure involved when you need to plan a funeral is to make sure you’re well prepared. This involves being able to access helpful information, people, places, and resources.  It also helps to start with a plan.

FuneralResources.com is solely designed to help you find complete details regarding everything you need to know when facing any type of funeral planning. Our goal is to help you organize this process and ensure educated and clear decision-making, as well as provide access to pre-screened funeral homes and professionals.

2. A loved one has been diagnosed as terminally ill:

There is usually a tremendous amount of chaos surrounding funeral planning, especially when the loved one in question has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  At such a time, you will likely be overcome with grief and loss, and need someone slightly more removed from your loved one, such as professional grief counseling, to act objectively and handle the many options and responsibilities of planning a funeral in advance.

Key considerations when faced with a terminal illness:

a) Review the Last Will of your loved one to learn of any special or unique arrangements they might have in place. The goal here is to find any plans or preferences regarding their end of life planning, as well as to see if they might have accomplished any preplanning.

b) If established, be sure to review their Living Will and Advanced Medical Directives. These documents can become extremely important in the event certain difficult health circumstances arise. The goal of these documents is to ensure their last wishes are carried out by the people closest to them in the event they become physically or mentally incapable of making these choices on their own.

c) If everyone mutually agrees that the Last Will or Living Trust is not going to be discussed or reviewed until after death, we strongly suggest that you consult with a funeral estate planning attorney to review the Last Will and identify if there are any special instructions concerning their last wishes.

d) Inform certain key people of what likely lies ahead including immediate family, friends and relatives, co-workers, insurance companies, a family doctor, the Cemetery or other burial place, other organizations such as churches, social clubs, etc.

3. Preplanning your end-of-life plans and preferences

In the past, planning for your death in advance was considered to be taboo. Today, preplanning a funeral and the accompanying arrangements is a popular decision and should be considered an important part of planning for the future. There are many reasons to consider learning more about the 3 ways to preplan a funeral. The most important reason is because it reduces or eliminates the emotional and financial pressure of making difficult decisions during life’s most challenging circumstances. In addition, prearrangements also let you choose exactly how you want to be memorialized and allows for personal preferences in all aspects of the funeral service. Not only is this becoming a widely accepted part of a sound comprehensive financial plan, but we firmly believe this is one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones.

 

Funeral Music and Top Funeral Songs

Funeral Music

Funeral Planning and

Funeral Music Considerations

You cannot lose sight of the fact that when you have to plan a funeral, without sounding selfish, the reality is that this celebration is all about you.  Therefore, you have every right to request a grand celebration with lots of fun, laughing, dancing, and funeral music.  Some of us may not want the typical “traditional funeral” and accompanying “traditional funeral songs”.  If people know you for your great sense of humor, then you may choose to have your loved ones laugh and have fun rather than spend this special day crying over sad funeral songs and videos.  The fact of the matter is you only get one chance, so it is really your opportunity to create that “special time to be remembered”.

So if you are ready to preplan a funeral and your end of life plans and preferences, this certainly includes choosing the “right” funeral music.  The most important thing to focus on here is this:  make sure the funeral music you’ve selected fits you, and how your loved ones remember you.  This can be very therapeutic for everyone since music can dramatically heighten the ability of your loved ones to connect the great memories of those moments they shared with you. Keep in mind that you probably don’t want your loved to be bombarded with sad funeral songs during your memorial service. Music is inspiring and can be used to help remember the joy a passed loved one brought to their lives.

Who Says it Has to be Sad Funeral Music?

So, just because it’s your funeral doesn’t mean that it has to be accompanied by your typical funeral hymns, sad songs, and lots of tears.  Since you have the ability to preplan these details in advance, why not help your loved ones by telling them exactly what type of funeral music planning you prefer, and will comfort them, along with other elements of the ceremony.  Heck, you may choose to throw the farewell celebration of a lifetime.  For example, maybe you wish to have one of your favorite bands play?  Or maybe just simply crank up the rock n’ roll music on the stereo and dance all night?  Regardless of what you choose, please do yourself and your family a favor – document your funeral music planning along with all of your other preferences now here:

 

Our Top 15 Favorite Funeral Songs:

1.   Amazing Grace

2.  The Grace of God, Patti Austin

3.  My Way, Frank Sinatra

4.  Let it Be, The Beatles

5.  Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

6.  She’s Finally Home, Cissy

7.  I’ve Had the Time of my Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

8.  Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw

9.  Candle in the Wind, Elton John

10.  What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong and Kenny G

11.  I Hope You Dance, Joe Dee Messina

12.  Imagine, John Lennon

13.  Unforgettable, Nat King Cole

14.  You are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder

15.  Amazing Grace, Elvis Presley

 

Funeral Planning Help Families are Searching For

Funeral Planning Help

What Kinds of Funeral Planning Help

are Families Searching For?

When I recently lost my mother, the terrible loss was compounded by the need for funeral planning help.  Like most families, we had never discussed and quite honestly, we avoided answering the question of; “What do we do next?”  Also, similar to most families, we had no idea who to turn to, nor did we have a clue where to begin making our funeral planning arrangements.

Through extensive study, family surveys, and my own personal experience, I now understand what most families are searching for on the Internet, and the questions they need answers to.

Three main reasons families seek funeral planning help:

1.    A recent death has occurred
2.    A death is expected
3.    There is an interest or desire to pre-plan their funeral or cemetery arrangements

Three questions most families need answers to:

1.    What should I know?
2.    Who can I turn to?
3.    Where do I get started?

In such a difficult situation, most families feel vulnerable, uncertain, and quite frankly, uneducated on what to know or ask. It is during times like this where families need the comfort and confidence to know they are working with someone who is looking out for their best interests; someone who is credible and qualified.

With more than 25,000 Funeral Homes, the Internet is loaded with Funeral Home Directories. But most families don’t really want just a name in a Directory. With the advent of the Internet and new funeral and memorial technology, families want quick and easy access to the most qualified funeral professionals, combined with the right tools to help them research all the important surrounding details.

Three reasons funeral planning is overwhelming:

1.  They are in a state of shock, disbelief, grief and loss, and more
2.  This is usually a process that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable
3.  There are many difficult funeral planning and financial decisions to make

Most common questions families need answers to:

Here are just a few of the common questions that arise;  What are the burial wishes of the deceased?  A traditional burial, cremation, graveside burial, or memorial service?  Where do they want their final resting place to be?  How, when, and where are these services performed?  And by whom?  What other funeral home services should we consider?  What is the right amount to pay for the funeral costs?  And much more.

Another detail families need to consider is the religious preference of the deceased. Planning a Jewish Funeral is completely different than, let’s say, Catholic funeral planning. In Jewish Funerals there is typically no embalming, the funeral service is performed quickly after death, and wooden caskets are preferred. Preparing for a Jewish Funeral can be quite confusing for those trying to adhere to the end of life plan set up deceased.

The list of details goes on and on but, as you can see, there is a tremendous need for families to have access to high-quality information regarding every detail of funeral planning.  This includes information about how to locate a Funeral Home or Cemetery, how to preplan a funeral, making emergency funeral arrangements, or even preparing their end of life arrangements in advance.

Families want a centralized place for high-quality and family focused funeral planning help.  It is my own personal experience and other families needs that have inspired me to offer a place where families can get all the answers they are searching for.  Families can become more confident, educated, and empowered.  In doing so, it is my passion and dream to become the most credible and trusted online funeral resource center families are turning to.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com