Posts Tagged ‘Funeral Planning’

How to Write Your Own Obituary

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Composing an obituary When it comes to funeral planning, some people prefer to have everything taken care of ahead of time. In addition to setting aside money for a funeral, this includes choosing things like caskets and headstones ahead of time. And if you really don’t want to leave anything to chance, you can also write your own obituary.

After all, no one can sum up your life quite as well as you can. Awards and achievements—those things that look good on paper—might make for a nice newspaper article, but they rarely capture who you are as a person and what kind of message you want to leave behind. If writing your own obituary and placing it with your estate plans is something that appeals to you, here’s how you can best go about it. (more…)

5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Funeral Planning

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Cemetery is the dawn's lightOnce you’ve made the decision to begin funeral planning, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and options out there. Choosing cremation vs burial, picking between dozens of local funeral homes, considering funeral insurance vs a pre-plan funeral package…these are just a few of the options that pop up in the beginning of your search.

Because few purchases will ever be more personal than the ones you make regarding your own death, it’s important to take a deep breath and relax as you move forward. Although time is one of the few things none of us has an unlimited amount of, you should never plan a funeral in haste. It’s too easy to overpay or buy services you don’t need if you feel pressured to make immediate decisions.

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How Much Does Burial Insurance Cost?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

People at funeral consoling each otherOne of the easiest ways to pre-pay for a funeral is to buy burial insurance (also known as funeral insurance). Instead of picking out details like caskets or cemeteries now, you simply set aside a lump sum that is payable out to your beneficiary upon your death. They can then use the money to fund your funeral in a way that fits with your wishes and their grieving needs.

Because burial insurance is a “guaranteed” payout (unlike car insurance, which will only pay out in the event of an accident, everyone will eventually die and collect on their burial policy), most of the costs are fixed. Your policy provider will take into account your age, your desired method of payment, and how large your payout is. From there, you will choose a policy that fits with your needs. This means that while one person (say, a 50-year-old in good health) might pay a fairly small monthly charge, another person (someone in their 70s who is a smoker) can expect larger monthly fees and even big upfront costs.

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Pre-Plan a Funeral Online

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Pre-Plan a Funeral OnlineIf the idea of calling funeral homes and meeting with estate planners to make advance funeral arrangements isn’t one you cherish, you may be able to find online options to save you time and money. Although unheard of just a few years ago, online funeral planning is now a viable option that allows you to plan and even pay for your funeral from the comfort of your own home.

How Online Funeral Planning Works

There are two ways you can pre-plan a funeral online. The first option requires nothing more from you than to make decisions regarding your wishes. For example, you can:

Print out a funeral planning worksheet, which you can then fill out regarding your specific wishes.
Find a funeral planning app or other online option that allows you to make decisions and email your answers to family members.
Coordinate funeral pre-plan options with a specific funeral home, which will use the information provided to contact you at a later date.

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Safety and Good Businesses Practices When Purchasing Caskets Online

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Casket with beautiful funeral flower arrangement One of the most common pieces of advice on how to save money on a funeral is to buy a casket online. Funeral homes mark up items like caskets, urns, and other burial effects by hundreds or even thousands of dollars—an amount of money that can seem insurmountable when you’re already facing such a devastating loss. Because the FTC’s Funeral Rule requires that funeral homes accept these items from a third-party vendor, you can shop around for caskets online.

However, buying anything online comes with a risk. Because you’re talking about an item that comes with a hefty price tag (and requires immediate shipping), it’s important to get things right. If you’re hesitant to buy a casket online because of the dangers of internet shopping, here are a few tips to ensure a safe transaction.

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I Want to Plan My Own Funeral, Where do I Start?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Traditional Memorial Candle of RemembranceAlthough it might sound preemptive and a bit macabre to plan your own funeral, this kind of advance arrangement is becoming more and more common. Not only does pre-planning a funeral allow you to have more control over what happens to your remains after you pass, but it can also save your family quite a bit of grief and money.

Planning your own funeral can be as simple as making a list of your wishes and ensuring your family knows where it is, or as complex as paying for everything in advance (even going so far as to purchase the casket or arrange every detail with the funeral home). There is no wrong way to go about it, but here are a few suggestions for getting started.

 Choose Your Final Interment Plan

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Funeral Luncheon Etiquette and Advice

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Funeral Luncheon Etiquette and AdviceAfter the funeral planning has come to an end and the family gathers to say goodbye to the deceased, it’s time for the funeral luncheon to start. Because most funerals take place during the morning (or in the early afternoon), it’s common for the deceased’s family to hold an informal luncheon afterward, in which guests can enjoy a light repast and share their grief.

Although this type of after-funeral memorial party isn’t a required tradition, it’s a good idea to brush up on your funeral lunch etiquette before you arrive.

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What Does a Cremation Oven Look Like?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

What Does a Cremation Oven Look Like?The cremation process is difficult for many people to picture happening to their loved one’s remains. Unlike burial, which gives a feeling of calm quiet and eternal rest, cremation is hot, messy, and oftentimes frightening. You might be afraid that the body won’t be treated with respect, or that the incredibly high temperatures required to break a body down are uncontrolled and dangerous.

While historical cremation practices might hold this to be true, modern-day cremation and cremation ovens are quite safe, sanitary, and practical. The cremation process is regulated so that it becomes more of a scientific breakdown of bodily remains than a blazing inferno, with the result that it is actually more decorous than the slow decay of a body underground.

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Funeral Planning: Winter Burials

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Funeral Planning: Winter BurialsThe behind-the-scenes aspect of the funeral industry is one that remains a mystery to many people. Often because we don’t care to know the gritty details of death and burial, and sometimes because we aren’t sure what kinds of questions to ask, or what funeral directors and funeral homes do to care for your loved ones isn’t always widespread knowledge.

One of the often overlooked details of burial is what happens during the winter months in colder climates, when the ground is frozen. Frozen turf is difficult (and expensive) to dig into, especially at the depth required for human burial. When combined with other harsh winter hazards like unplowed roads, unsafe driving conditions, and the snowfall on the cemetery itself, the results are not conducive to immediate burial. That’s why many of the colder states (think Alaska and North Dakota) have contingency plans in place.

Burial in Cold Climates

Few states have laws in place to regulate winter burials. Some, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York, require burial in the winter regardless of weather conditions. Others might allow you to opt for a “cold storage” option to avoid the heavier fees of opening a grave in the winter.

In this instance, “cold storage” isn’t as terrible as it seems. Funeral directors may keep bodies in cemetery crypts or inside the funeral home until a date when the ground thaws enough to allow for burial. This practice is one that has existed for hundreds of years. If winter burials are difficult in our age of backhoes and jackhammers, it’s easy to imagine how hard it would have been in centuries past. And because older generations didn’t have access to morgues and other indoor body storage options, it was common to keep bodies in a crypt until spring.

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Funeral Scams to Avoid

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

iStock_000001404217XSmallAlthough it seems unthinkable to take advantage of a grieving family to make money, scams and fraud related to the death care industry can happen. As is the case in any field where emotions are high and decision-making is a strained business, unscrupulous vendors and outright scam artists may take advantage of the situation to earn a buck.

The majority of funeral homes operate in conjunction with national laws and regulations related to the funeral planning industry—and do it with compassion. However, if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with any part of the process, be sure and step away from the funeral plans and check with this list of common funeral scams.

  • Not Allowing You to See The Prices: Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, funeral homes must provide you with an itemized list of all their goods and services—including both packages and a la carte options. This list must be offered up front and without any other obligation on your part. In many cases, you can even request a copy over the phone or via mail, allowing you the chance to look it over at your leisure.
  • Pressuring You to Decide Now: Like car dealerships, funeral homes have a better chance of getting results if they keep you on site until you’ve made all your decisions and put down a deposit on the funeral of your choosing. This exhausting process often leads to impulsive decisions and overspending. You have every right to take your time and ask to return at a later date.
  • Forcing You to Buy from Them: There is no law that says you have to buy all your funeral items from the funeral home (in fact, the law says the exact opposite). You are allowed to shop around and order things like caskets, headstones, and funeral flowers from an outside provider—and the funeral home must accept them. (more…)

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