How to Plan Your Own Funeral

planning your own funeral

Individuals today are rethinking how they will observe their demise. Not so long ago, the plan for a proper funeral had several steps. Including –

  • A viewing, wake or visitation
  • Funeral service day
  • Followed by a cemetery service

Despite this, last year nearly 50% of the people who died were cremated. This is based on information provided by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Projections for this year are expected to climb to 57.3%.

This allows families to forgo the traditional process and hold a memorial service however they see fit. This trend reflects cultural changes throughout the country according to Funerals.org.

To clarify, cremation is just one part of the process in the options available today. Let’s learn about what else is involved in planning a funeral or memorial service.

In this post we will look into; why you should plan your own funeral, how to do it, the details involved, the costs associated, and different ways you can pay for it.

Why should I plan my own Funeral

Who likes to think about their death, or put a plan in place for it? But if you don’t plan your own funeral, you will leave it up to your family. All while they are going through deep sadness and grief.

Leaving your family and loved ones with planning your funeral only adds to their emotional stress. Having a plan will go a long way in providing comfort to your loved ones in their time of heartache.

This process takes some resolve, but you will feel relieved once it’s done. Doing so will save your family expense and stress after your death; allowing them to both grieve your passing and celebrate your life.

How do I Plan my Funeral

Planning your own funeral is actually pretty straight forward. You want to put a budget in place, set aside funds, arrange the details and finally share your wishes with your family.

Documenting these details on paper for your family will let them know exactly how you would like to be remembered.

Write down your final wishes for your family

If your loved ones don’t have instructions, they may feel obligated and spend more than necessary on your funeral possibly causing a financial hardship. You can help mitigate some of your family’s dread by answering a few basic questions in advance:

Will your body be buried or cremated?

What is the budget?

What type of Service do you want?

Answering these questions will be a tremendous help to your family. However, providing all of the details on paper and filing it where your loved ones can find it would be the best case scenario.

Details for Planning my Funeral

Would any of the arrangements below apply to you? Document your preferences in your final wishes for your family.

  • Funeral and/or Memorial location
  • Where and how the remains will be placed
  • Who is making the arrangements
  • Multimedia Presentation
  • Live Stream video of the funeral
  • Service Attendees
  • Type of urn or casket
  • Casket customization
  • Pallbearers
  • Pictures for service
  • Flowers for service
  • Music
  • Clothes for viewing
  • Headstone
  • Military options for veterans
  • Obituary options
  • Funeral reception after

Shop Before You Drop

Most families choose a funeral home they know or are familiar with. But don’t let that slow you down from shopping for a better deal. 

Keep in mind, the National Funeral Directors Association estimates the median cost of a funeral and burial is about $8,500. Median cost for a service and cremation is about $6,000.

Funeral homes often have packages for their services, however the “funeral rule” set forth by the Federal Trade Commission requires a published price list that is itemized.

Funeral homes must give you the itemized list if you visit them in person or talk with them on the phone. Some post packages and price lists on their websites as well.

In other words, make certain that you receive what you are asking for as far as services offered and the pricing attached.

For more information on pricing click here.

senior couple planning a funeral

Ways to Pay for my Funeral

Here is the big question –

How do I make certain that my final expenses do not burden my family?

Let’s face it, the last thing anyone wants to do is leave a huge financial hardship on their loved ones.

Most families don’t have a big pile of cash ready to pay for a funeral. As a result, loved ones will borrow money to make sure their family member receives a proper service. This leaves the family with a huge debt to pay.

Here are a few basic options to avoid having your family pay for your final expenses.

Cash on hand

This option is only for those who have that big pile of cash or that are financially diligent. You can save money on a monthly basis until you have enough to cover all of your final expenses.

The obvious problem with this option – what if you pass away before you’ve saved enough? You just stuck your family with the task of coming up with the difference.

However, if you truly are disciplined, you can open a “payable on death” account (Totten trust) at your bank. As the trustee, you can use the funds in an emergency and collect the interest. When you pass away, your beneficiary collects the balance.

Life Insurance

Obviously, life insurance is a very popular option. It provides a death benefit upon your passing and most policies offer immediate coverage.

There are even policies specifically designed to cover end of life expenses. These types of policies are called “final expense insurance” or “burial insurance“.

The insurance carriers designed these plans knowing what would be important to the individuals seeking them. Small face values with reasonable premium payments meant to provide enough coverage to pay for funeral expenses.

Pre-need plan

Another option is a “pre-need” plan from a funeral home. Rather than pay them directly, you will usually buy an insurance policy stating that the funeral home is the beneficiary.

Funeral homes that sell these policies prefer you pay off the balance within 5 years. This makes the monthly payments extremely expensive. Payments can range from $75-$600 per month depending on the amount and the length of time to pay it off.

Another drawback is if you move or cancel your plan, you may not receive a full refund. Read the fine print carefully.

Protect your Plan

Keep your plan in a safe place where your family can find it (maybe with your life insurance policies) or better yet give a copy to one or all of your children or designated family member. Make sure to update your plan from time to time especially if your circumstances change.

Funerals.org offers a funeral planner you can download for $10 or one they can mail to you for $15. Likewise, your funeral home can provide a worksheet or you can search online for one you can download.

Final Thoughts

A fitting funeral is one that you plan before you die. Having concise directions in place will show your family how much you cared and you’ll save your family a lot of grief.

This isn’t a fun chore but planning this ahead of time will pay huge dividends in your family’s future.