Before You Pre-Plan Your Funeral Arrangements

By figuring out the basics of what you want for your funeral or memorial service, you can more easily compare funeral homes and directors, go into your first meeting with a funeral director armed with information about your choices, and be empowered to make the best decisions for you and your family.

Whether you decide to pay in advance for some or all of your funeral, or if you make arrangements without purchasing anything, there are some important decisions you should consider before beginning the planning process. Below are many questions to consider. While you don’t have to answer all of these questions before you meet with a funeral director, having a sense of what you want can certainly help.

Disposition

Service

  • What would you like your funeral service to be like?
  • Would you like the body to be present at the service or not? If you want the body to be present, would you like the casket to be open or closed?
  • Where would you like the service to be held?
  • Who would you like to officiate the service?

Interment

Products

  • If you’re planning a burial, what style of casket would you like?
  • If you’re planning a cremation, what style of urn would you like?
  • If your remains will be buried, what style of headstone or marker would you like? What would you like it to say?

Financing

  • Will you pay all funeral costs up front?
  • Will you work with the funeral home to create a payment plan?
  • Will you set aside money for your children to pay the costs when the time comes?

Communicating with your family

One of the keys to effective funeral planning is open communication. Letting your family know what you want in terms of burial or cremation and the type of service you want to have can help get everyone on the same page, and can help with making arrangements when the time comes. 

These conversations can be difficult. It can be hard to talk to your children or your partner about your wishes and your mortality; it can be hard to talk to parents about their wishes and their mortality. Keeping the conversation centered on practical planning—where you'd like to be buried, or where you'd like your ashes to be scattered—can potentially help reduce conflict and emotionally charged disagreements.

It's also important to remember that not everyone in your family will agree with your decisions. While it's important to try and get everyone on the same page, if you are making plans for yourself then you have every right to make whatever decisions you'd like.

Once you've had a chance to think about the type of arrangements you'd like to make, you'll be ready to begin the process of choosing a funeral home to work with.

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