Funeral Planning and Terminal Illness

Funeral planning for terminal illnessOne of the most common questions we get here on our blog is “when is the best time to start funeral planning?” By now, almost all of us have heard about the options in funeral pre-plans, which range from setting aside funding via a trust or funeral insurance policy to actually planning the details and paying for caskets and burial plots in advance.

What most of us don’t consider is exactly when planning a funeral is best. Is it when you’re in your 40s? 50s? Facing retirement?

There is no single answer to this question, and only you and your loved ones can decide for sure when to start funeral planning. One thing, however, that is almost always universal is the benefit of funeral planning in the final stages of a disease or terminal illness.

When You Get a Terminal Diagnosis

There is perhaps no more difficult prognosis to get from a doctor than a terminal illness. Whether you’ve been battling disease for years, or if this is sudden and overwhelming news, facing death is a feat that involves the entire family. In addition to the emotional ramifications that impact your
remaining time on earth, there are financial and family obligations, as well. All of this can add up to a very intense period that brings with it very intense feelings.

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Fortunately, there are resources out there to help families and individuals cope with a terminal illness. From grief support and formal counseling to hospice organizations and the simple love of friends and family members, you can reach out to a number of different resources for assistance.

We are not here to tell you how to mourn or to lessen the impact of a terminal illness on your life in any way. However, during these final stages of life, there must be a focus on more practical matters, as well as those of the emotional and spiritual realm. This is a time when wills, estate planning efforts, trusts, insurance, and funeral plans should be attended to. Saving these details for later will only increase your stress after the death of a loved one, and you may miss out on important details that can save you time, money, and heartache.

What You Can Do to Help

If you or a loved one is facing a terminal illness, you should first attend to the emotional issues. Once all of you feel comfortable enough to broach the subject of finances, you can:

• Contact an estate lawyer or your family attorney
• Draft and/or revise your will (and living will)
• Consider viatical settlements
• Review your insurance policies
• Consider a pre-planning funeral package
• Talk with a funeral home to begin making decisions

For some people, having a hand in the funeral planning process—even if its only to declare a preference for cremation over burial or to help select the songs that will be played during the memorial service—is a way to help process a terminal illness and learn to value the time that is left on the earth. For others, it might be too much to take in when so much else is going on. Only you can decide for sure what path is right for you, but know that there are many funeral planning professionals out there with experience in this kind of situation willing to help you make the right decision for your family.

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