When it comes to traditional financial planning, the majority of long-term fiscal decisions are made by men. For years, financial professionals have been trying to create specialized programs that focus on women and how they can plan for retirement or life after the loss of a spouse.
Funeral planning, on the other hand, is a process that has long been dominated by women. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of funerals are planned and paid for by women—usually because a wife outlives her husband, and is called upon to determine how to best lay her spouse to rest. Adult female children are also the ones most likely to act as caretakers for their aging parents, so the task of funeral planning often falls to them.
Women and Decision-Making
Although there are no hard-and-fast rules, women tend to be more likely to make decisions based on emotion, especially after the devastating loss of a loved one. In the funeral industry, this can sometimes lead to paying out more for services and funeral goods (like the casket), since money will take a backseat to issues of tradition, comfort, and affection.
That’s why many financial planners suggest that women take control of funeral planning for spouses and parents before death occurs. By making advance preparations for the important decisions and purchases, it is possible to save quite a bit of time and money—not to mention the pain that comes with choosing items related to burial during the worst part of the grieving process.
Ideally, this means signing up for a funeral pre-plan or funeral insurance that covers the entire funeral process. However, any advance preparations are a good idea. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Keeping organized records of the will, trust, all bank accounts, military records, financial paperwork, titles, and insurance. Having all of these in one location can help streamline the process of funeral and estate planning.
- Determining what type of interment is preferred. Even if it’s just via a verbal understanding, ask your loved one about his or her feelings on cremation, burial, and other options.
- Setting aside a budget. You can buy a burial plot in advance, fully fund a funeral, purchase funeral insurance, or simply put a limit on how much you believe should be spent. Knowing your limits can help you make decisions later on.
- Talking with loved ones. Although women are primarily responsible for most funeral plans, they aren’t the only ones involved in the decision-making process. Talk with other relatives and interested parties before it’s too late to have the important conversations.
The best time to make these decisions is when other financial discussions are taking place. Although men tend to be more proactive about retirement accounts and estate planning, women can also step up to learn about their options—both for life and for death. More work today means more time to grieve later. And everyone, regardless of gender, deserves a chance to grieve uninhibited by financial concerns.