Ready or not, the future is coming. We can’t be prepared for every eventuality, but there is at least one certainty for which we can plan.
Death is a subject most of us avoid, despite its inevitability. That’s completely understandable; that’s human nature. Nevertheless, there are important reasons you should overcome any hesitation to plan final arrangements in advance and have “the conversation” with loved ones about your wishes.
Preplanning allows you to consider the best choices for yourself and your family
How do you want to be memorialized? Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to have a discussion with the people most important to you about your final arrangements, to make sure everyone understands and agrees.
In a survey by The Conversation Project, 90% of people said that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27% had actually done it. By including your loved ones in the process, you can help prevent confusion, disagreement, and hurt feelings. They can also be a valuable support system in your decision-making.
Advance planning gives you time to find a provider you trust, one who is able to fulfill your wishes. With your spouse or family, make a list of questions and concerns. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has a checklist of questions and considerations to help you make the choice that’s right for you and your loved ones.
“Organization gives people a sense of control,” said Kit Yarrow, professor and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind. “The more organized you are, the less emotionally driven you’ll be.”
Preplanning saves money
The cost of cremation is rising every year. By making decisions now and paying for future services at present-day prices, you are protected against inflation.
As you consider your final arrangements, familiarize yourself with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule.
The rule states that:
- A provider has to give you a list of all the goods and services offered, and the cost of each.
- You only have to purchase the goods and services you want.
- You can use an urn or a casket that you’ve bought elsewhere.
Considering options in advance allows you to decide on how much you can afford, and stick to your budget.
Preplanning protects you family financially
Many people called upon to make final arrangements at time of need are doing it for the first time. The combination of inexperience and emotion can result in loved ones overspending, and possibly buying services and products they don’t need.
Making advance arrangements saves your loved ones from the expense at the time of need – and that’s a big burden you’ll be easing at an already stressful time.
“[Plan final arrangements] before you have to,” said Bob Arrington, past president of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). “The hardest thing you can do is, a death occurred last night and all of a sudden you’re scrambling.”
Preplanning provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones
Not preplanning at all, says FuneralBasics.org, is a mistake. Although your family may initially be uncomfortable with discussing the specifics of your final arrangements, making your wishes known in advance will ultimately save them anxiety at the time of need.
Frequently, family members describe the peace of mind in knowing final arrangements have been taken care of as the greatest gift their loved one could leave. It’s hard to make decisions at such an emotional time; having the decisions made in advance, and in accordance with your wishes, allows them to instead focus on honoring you, remembering and celebrating your life.
Tools for preplanning
Wondering where to find help? Most funeral and cremation providers offer free advance planning services. You can subscribe for free to Neptune Society’s online series Thinking Ahead, which guides you, step by step, in putting your affairs in order over six weeks. The series helps you integrate planning final arrangements into overall goals going forward, including health, wills, and other important documents.
In its planning tips, the FTC recommends you review your plans at regular intervals. Neptune’s “Thinking Ahead” series is an effective tool for that; subscribers will also get a yearly “Planniversary” email reminder to help keep those plans updated.
The FTC also advises that you put your preferences in writing and give copies to loved ones or a trusted representative, as well as keeping a copy in a convenient place – not in your will or a safe deposit box, which may not be readily accessible.
The Neptune Society also offers a free, comprehensive guide on cremation preplanning. It provides easy-to-understand explanations of the cremation preplanning process and tasks you can do to prepare for the future that may be key in resolving any concerns you and your loved ones have.
Note: This post is intended as a resource to help families. Contact us for more information regarding cremation preplanning.