Benefits of Planning Your Funeral While You're Still Alive

By: Ian Elliott
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Talking about your own funeral can seem somewhat morbid, but funeral pre-planning is actually becoming more and more popular. Death is, unfortunately, a fact of life, and planning your funeral while you're still alive is a great way to ensure that your wishes are honoured. Nobody likes talking about death, so more often than not, people who don’t pre-plan their funerals leave this world without ever expressing their thoughts and desires about how they'd like their lives celebrated.

Planning your own funeral, however, allows you to make important decisions about your end-of-life celebration, and it relieves your family of the need to struggle with difficult questions about what you would or wouldn’t have wanted.   Many families have agonized over their decisions when arranging a funeral service for a parent.  The comment heard the most by funeral directors is “ I’m not sure if I am doing the right thing.  We never discussed funeral arrangements.”

Honoring Your End-of-Life Wishes and Desires

How many people have you talked to about what kind of funeral you want? And how many of your friends or family members have you instructed about whether you want to be buried or cremated? If you have strong feelings about what you wish to happen after you pass on and you’ve never talked to anyone about these desires, then funeral pre-planning is an excellent way to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. When you plan your funeral, you can decide important things like:

  • What kind of service you'd like (such as traditional funeral, memorial, or graveside)
  • Whether you want a wake, visitation, or viewing
  • What kind of music you want to be played at the service
  • Particular flowers or decorations you'd like to see
  • Who you want to attend and speak
  • Where you want the service to be held and where your final resting place will be
  • Special songs, prayers, or readings
  • What happens after the funeral, such as a reception, a party at home, or a communal trip to your favourite restaurant
  • Religious traditions and customs you want to be observed

Many people leave funeral instructions in their wills thinking that this will ensure their final wishes are carried out. However, since wills are often not read until after a funeral, this isn’t a reliable way to ensure your funeral is arranged the way you want.

Helping Your Family with Costs and Tough Decisions

The death of a loved one is a very difficult time for those left behind, and having to make hard decisions on your behalf is an unnecessary stress that can prolong the grieving process.

If you never talked to your family about your end-of-life wishes, the funeral planning process will stick them with questions they may not be able to answer. These include whether you want to donate organs, whether you want to be cremated or buried, and where you want your remains to be interred, or your ashes kept. By planning your own funeral, you will prevent your loved ones from having to make decisions for you when you're no longer around to consult. 

Furthermore, you pre-plan your funeral, you have the option of paying for the service in advance, and this will be a huge relief to your grieving loved ones when that time comes. And even if you don’t want to pre-pay for the funeral, you can make sure that money is set aside to pay for the costs.  Although, it is best to pre-pay as money set aside to pay for your funeral is taxable as part of the estate.  Pre-paying avoids the taxes.  Do not put your pre-planning documents in the safety deposit box at the bank.  Your executor will require to have a death certificate in order to gain access to your safety deposit box.  It’s best to have them at home in a safe secure place where fire or water damage cannot destroy them.  Make sure your family know where these documents are kept.

Planning your own funeral will ensure you get the service you want, and will be a final act of love and support to help your loved ones through a difficult time. It’s never too early to start thinking about planning your own funeral, and starting now will give you lots of time to look for a funeral home that will treat you and your family with respect and dignity when the time comes to say goodbye.

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