Learn Why and How to Pre-Plan Your Funeral Arrangements
Most of us spend weeks and months planning a wedding or a major celebration, just to ensure that every tiny detail is taken care of. Then why leave the ultimate celebration of your life to the very end, or to your grieving loved ones? Diving into planning your eventual demise may not be easy. In fact, confronting the subject of death or mortality can be a hugely emotional process. Yet, pre-planning your funeral has several advantages for you, as well as your loved ones. In this funeral pre-planning guide, we address every aspect of planning your own funeral arrangements; from why you should consider it, to how to go about it with a handy checklist.
Why Pre-Plan Your Funeral?
Here are the top three reasons for overcoming hesitation, confronting mortality, and pre-planning your own funeral: Take care of the family: Relieve your loved ones from the pressure of making tough decisions, and let them focus on the grieving and healing process. Knowing your wishes in advance makes it easier on the family to carry out the funeral arrangements exactly the way you wanted. Pre-planning your funeral is one way to prevent conflicts, confusion, and stress for your loved ones. Stay in-charge: Whether it is your fiercely independent lifestyle or the need to be in control of everything, pre-planning your own funeral is the opportunity to exercise your choice. While the time and circumstances of death are unpredictable, you can remain in-charge of the funeral arrangements to follow after your passing. Control financial stress: Like most other commodities and services, funeral costs continue to rise with each passing year. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of adult funerals in Canada is $6,260 for cremation sand $8,755 for burials. Whether you pre-pay for the services or pre-arrange the payout for when the time comes, pre-planning your funeral will relieve you and your family from future financial stress.
How to Pre-Plan Your Funeral?
Most funeral homes offer convenient pre-planning services that allow you to arrange your final celebration of life in a manner of your choosing. Check out these top steps for pre-planning your end-of-life arrangements:
Decide on the type of service: Make the most important decision of whether you want a burial, cremation or donation,and inform your family about it personally, or through a letter. Find a funeral pre-planning specialist: Visit your local funeral home to explore the various services available. Whether you want a traditional funeral, a remembrance ceremony, or graveside service,the funeral director will help give shape to your end-of-life plans, based on your preferences, personality and budget. Arrange the finances: While pre-paying is not a necessary step for pre-planning your funeral, you have the option to make advance arrangements that will eliminate any financial strain on you or your family. You can have the money held ‘in trust’, or buy insurance for the sum involved. In most scenarios, your pre-paidfund will earn interest over the years, which will likely offset any future rise in funeral costs. Ensure a contract is in place: Signing a pre-payment contract with your chosen funeral home, and/or insurance provider will allow you to take advantage of the provisions of Ontario’s Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002. Any pre-paid contract signed after July 1, 2012 ensures that your legal representative does not need to bear additional costs, even if they are not offset by the interest earned on your pre-paid fund. Similarly, any money and interest earnings left over after the specified funeral arrangements goes back to your estate, or beneficiary, as specified in your contract. Keep an eye on the details: Pre-planning your funeral involves fair bit of decision making. Paying attention to details, asking questions, and building trust with your funeral home will help you make the most of the available options and facilities. For example:
In the event of a future relocation, it is possible to move your funeral pre-arrangements to a different funeral home since they are transferable.
If death occurs away from home, your service provider may be able to arrange for embalming services at a local funeral home, as well as transportation arrangements for return to the base location.
Funeral Pre-Planning Checklist
Personalize your end-of-life arrangements and ensure that you do not miss out on any critical details,with the help of this simple funeral pre-planning checklist. Ceremonial details: Deciding whether you want a burial, or a cremation, is just the first step in pre-planning your funeral.
If you have chosen burial, have you selected and purchased a burial plot? Would you like a wood, metal or composite materials casket?
If you prefer cremation, how do you want the ashes treated? Do you want them buried, scattered, or stored in urns and handed over to loved ones?
What details do you want mentioned in your obituary? Some individuals choose to take this a step further and write their own.
Besides choosing between a traditional funeral and memorial services, are there any other events, such as viewings, wakes, visitation, or celebration-of-life that you would want your family to organize?
Are there any special activities, or specific music or flower arrangements that you prefer to include during these events?
Is there a particular venue you desire for each event? Do you wish to designate or name specific persons to be the pallbearers and the officiant (for the chosen ceremonies), or for delivering eulogies, or other readings?
Is there any charitable organization you would like to include for inviting donations in your memory?
Finances and Assets: Besides the ceremonial arrangements, here are some other aspects that you may want to address while pre-planning your funeral:
Prepare a list of contacts who should be notified about your death and desired funeral arrangements.
Once you prepare your will and name an executor(s), give them a copy of your will and contact list.
Ensure your executor has access to the details of your bank accounts, investment accounts, mortgage information, insurance policies, retirement plans, creditors, safe deposit boxes, and other personal assets or properties.
If you receive benefits from government plans, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, or Veteran’s Administration etc., remember to mention them among the above details.
Entrust someone with your online memberships, accounts or social media logins, along with instructions on whether you wish to wipe out or retain your digital presence.
If you have not included the details of your pets in your will, document your intentions about their care (after consulting the person or body that you are naming responsible). This document needs to be signed, witnessed, and handed over to your executor, in a similar manner as the will.
Pre-Planning Funeral Costs
The cost of funerals in Canada runs into thousands of dollars. Making systematic arrangements today will save your family future financial and logistical hassles, while organizing your funeral.There are two ways to pre-plan your funeral costs:
Insurance policies: Pay into a whole-life policy that provides a death benefit to the beneficiaries when you pass, or purchase a funeral expenses insurance policy. The latter does not usually require a medical exam and is suitable for those who have difficulty getting life insurance coverage. Burial insurance policies usually offer prompt payouts and cover a variety of expenses related to your funeral arrangements, including transportation, burial or cremation costs, caskets, headstones, flowers, cemetery, or funeral house fees, and so on. Contract with service provider: Although insurers promise prompt payments, there will usually be a lag between receiving the benefit, and making payments to the funeral home (typically require immediate payment at the time of service). Instead, you could enter into a pre-payment contract directly with your desired funeral home and have your funds held ‘in trust’ by your bank, trust company, or an independent trustee. Choosing a licensed funeral home will ensure that your money remains safe under the Prepaid Funeral Services Compensation Fund, administered by the Board of Funeral Services. What this means is, in the rare case that your pre-paid money is not available when due, your beneficiary gets compensated through this fund.While signing a contract with the funeral home, ensure that it spells out all your chosen services in detail, along with refund guarantees and agreement for transfer of services to other providers.
How Does a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Work?
Pre-planning your funeral is about personalizing your end-of-life arrangements in such a way that your loved ones do not have to worry about making important decisions during their time of grief. Additionally, if you pre-payfor your funeral, once you pass, your insurance policy or the ‘in-trust’ arrangement will release the funds to the beneficiary named in your funeral pre-payment contract. This not only relieves your family of any financial obligations, but all your specified arrangements are put into motion in a timely and efficient manner.
The fear of mortality or thoughts about loved ones coping when you pass could be emotionally paralyzing. However, partnering with a trusted funeral planner, such as First Memorial Funeral Services will help you put together a practical and comprehensive plan that reflects your choices and suits your budget. We offer a range of affordable and convenient burial and cremation services, along with arrangements for traditional funerals, graveside services, celebration-of-life events, and memorials or remembrance ceremonies. We hope you find this funeral pre-planning guide useful. To discuss end-of-life arrangements and learn more about pre-planning your funeral, get in touch with the compassionate and friendly staff at First Memorial Funeral Services. Call us at 613-860-2424 or contact us online.