Few topics shut down a conversation faster than death. True, it will happen to everyone at some point, yet the finality of death can scare many of us enough to fail to plan for this event. In fact, just 26% of Americans have talked with a loved one about their funeral.
Death can come as a surprise, or it can be long expected. For some people, it can be a long-drawn-out process following years of long-term care and medical services. For others, it happens fast following an accident or sudden illness. Most of us would like to end our life peacefully in our sleep after a long, happy, and healthy life.
We just don't know. Dealing with death is no walk in the park for anyone. When dealing with the emotional turmoil that comes with this experience, it is important to solidify the upcoming arrangements for the funeral and burial or cremation.
After you thought about your final wishes? Have you discussed this topic with your family? Do they know what your preference may be, or would they have to guess?
A Loved One Has No Plan – Now What?
Planning for your funeral and final wishes is something to start much sooner than later. Our final wishes can continuously be updated in the future, but things happen, and the timing is not usually up to us. Yet too many die without any plan, and the family has no direction on their loved ones' final wishes.
If a loved one passes and no plan is in place, would you know what to do? What steps should be taken? What things need to be considered?
Here are some things to consider when faced with planning a funeral.
Contact the Funeral Home
After making all appropriate calls to families, friends, and relatives, call the funeral home to arrange the funeral proceedings. Be sure to contact the deceased person's lawyer first if there is an already existing funeral plan. If not, call the funeral home and weigh the options with the director there. They'll help you navigate the financial and logistical considerations for the funeral.
Find the Best Package Deal
When talking to the funeral director, it is common to assert which type of disposition and service you'll want for your loved one. Disposition is the manner in which the funeral home handles the body. Typically, your two options are burial or cremation. Then, you can consider a specific type of funeral service, such as religious, cultural, military, or fraternal.
The location also matters. You'll might have both a visitation and funeral at the funeral home; however, you might hold a service at a church or other religious institution. If that is the case, be sure to contact the church, synagogue, or mosque. They will guide you if you are unfamiliar with the traditions.
Plus, with some religious traditions, a graveside service is also arranged.
If your loved one was in the military, be sure to contact the local VFW and arrange for organizing military funeral honors if desired.
Don't forget the obituary. Many funeral homes will help you write one and get it published. Be sure to see if your loved one or someone else in the family has already written an obituary.
There is always paperwork. The paperwork includes sending a death notice to financial institutions, public utilities, credit reporting agencies, and insurance companies.
Look for life insurance policies or other insurance that may have a death benefit like Long-Term Care Insurance. Some credit cards include a death benefit depending on the reason for the death.
There may be a return of advance payments for ongoing expenses to get a return of unearned costs.
Consider Cemetery Arrangements
The next step on how to plan for a funeral service is to consider cemetery arrangements. These include the casket or cremation container, burial vault, accessories, gravestone, and more. Typically, traditional burials feature a gravesite with a buried casket, a grave liner, and a headstone.
If no cemetery property had been purchased in advance, you would need to make those arrangements.
Gravesites usually place deceased members of the same family near each other. Some headstones feature the names and living dates of the person who has passed, but there are some customizable options available as well.
A headstone can feature religious or military insignia or a photo. Know the tips for designing and purchasing the right headstone for your recent passing to have one that honors your loved one well.
For a cremation, decide on the cremation container for the ashes and any memorial items to display.
Handle Any Legal Matters
Finally, if the death was a surprise, you might need to handle any estate-related, financial, administrative, or other legal matters long after the death.
While death is an emotional event and these representatives will understand your situation, these matters are nonetheless important. They may range from filing last wills and testaments or changing the title on the deceased's assets. Get these affairs in order shortly after the funeral processions.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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