Although no one wants to dwell on their death, everyone eventually will face it. A study found that for many seniors, worries about how their loved ones would cope vastly outweighed fears of their own deaths. Picturing beloved relatives having to make arrangements for a funeral and burial while dealing with grief is particularly distressing. That’s why many older adults choose to prepare for and plan for their funerals.
When a person gets started with the pre-planning process, they quickly see they need to make many decisions. Deciding on the details and ensuring that loved ones know about them is challenging. Fortunately, knowledge can make planning and preparing for a funeral much simpler for seniors. These tips can help older adults and their families make smart choices throughout the process.
Planning and preparing for a funeral is a time-consuming process. Seniors should consider starting as soon as possible. Putting it off could mean trying to make complicated decisions while dealing with other issues, such as relocating to assisted living or undergoing treatment for a medical condition.
To ensure that their family honors their wishes and can easily follow their instructions, seniors should write everything down. Spell out instructions in an easy-to-follow way. Include contact information for preferred funeral homes, places of worship and cemeteries. Older adults who prepay for anything should include receipts and account numbers. Choose a safe place to store all the information, such as a fireproof lockbox or a safety deposit box.
Some seniors don’t want to burden their families with talk of death. While it’s not necessary to go over all the details, a person should at least tell their loved ones if they have already planned for their funeral. Let a trusted person know where to find the written instructions. Older adults may even wish to give that person a key to the lockbox or safety deposit box.
People also have the freedom to involve their family in the planning and preparation if they wish. Doing so can ensure that seniors have support as they make important decisions. Plus, including family in the decision-making process gives them a clear picture of their loved one’s wishes. Although older adults should ultimately have the final say, they may wish to seek input from family about various details.
Preparing for funerals ahead of time allows seniors to set the tone for their services. Including special touches like music and readings can provide comfort and make the proceedings more meaningful. Seniors may even wish to collect photographs for display or play a special home movie. In addition, older adults may want to choose their own apparel for the visitation or ask to have a cherished memento placed in the casket.
Seniors who are computer savvy can make funeral plans by using an online service. A quick internet search can reveal multiple sites that offer step-by-step assistance. Some are free to use, while others involve a monthly or one-time fee. These sites can make it easier to remember all the elements of a funeral, so family members don’t have to worry about any aspect of the service or arrangements.
States establish their own laws regarding embalming, interment and cremation. Seniors can double-check that their plans comply with these requirements to spare family members from future hassles. For example, some states place restrictions on where you can spread a person’s ashes or allow people to keep their loved one’s body at home rather than having a viewing or funeral in another location. The National Funeral Home Alliance is a useful starting point for researching state laws.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral is $7,848 for a burial and $6,971 for a cremation. No matter which option a person prefers, they need to determine how to ensure their families have enough money to pay for these final expenses. Options include:
Seniors who choose to pay for final expenses ahead of time should shop around before choosing funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries and mausoleums. Pricing can vary widely from business to business. Reputable service providers are willing to offer free, no-obligation quotes and won’t employ high-pressure sales tactics. In fact, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that they do.
By comparing the services and fees for several businesses, older adults can get more for their money. In addition, they can have peace of mind that the providers they’ve chosen will be empathetic and caring to their family members.
FTC rules forbid funeral providers from refusing to work with caskets purchased from other providers and prohibit them from charging an extra fee for handling them. Crematoriums also can’t force a person to buy an urn from them or make them pay a fee for using an urn purchased from a third party. The regulation gives seniors the flexibility to take advantage of low prices online or purchase a casket or urn from one local business and have another funeral home handle embalming and host visitations.
Unfortunately, scammers target seniors with a variety of schemes, and some use funeral planning as an opportunity to take older adults’ hard-earned money. To avoid becoming a victim, research potential funeral service providers before committing to one. Every state requires funeral service providers to obtain a license or registration. Checking a state’s registry is a simple way to verify that a business is legitimate.