Loss of a loved one can be devastating. Preparing a funeral can be difficult on top of the loss can be difficult and stressful. But with a little planning, you can prevent this.
While death is one of the few certain things in life, few people are prepared for it. Everyday, more than 7,000 Americans die, leaving their loved ones to deal with the aftermath. One of the best and simplest ways to help out your loved ones is to incorporate funeral instructions into your estate plan.
Funeral instructions can be as simple or detailed as you want. Your funeral instructions should answer the basic questions regarding your funeral, such as how you would like your remains to be treated (such as cremation or burial), how you feel about organ donation, what type of religious practices should be observed, what type of grave marker you would like, etc.
Planning now, while you are living and in relatively good health, can reduce the anxiety and stress that occurs after your death. Your family can focus on mourning you without the added burden of having create funeral plans on the spot.
Leaving Funeral Instructions
In many cases, a person’s will may not be read until after the funeral is held. For this reason, it is important to have separate funeral instructions available in you estate plan. Even more, you don’t want any challenges to your will to delay any instructions contained inside.
Funeral instructions are best given to your executor, the person you trust and empower to handle your estate. Your executor will need to pay some creditors from your estate, including those necessary to carry out your wishes. You don’t want to have the person responsible for carrying out your instructions to not be able to because of a lack of funds.
While it may be a difficult to discuss this topic, it is a good idea to let your executor know your wishes and where they can find the most current instructions. I typically recommend including a copy of the funeral instructions with other estate planning documents but clearly labeled and findable by the executor. This means keeping the instructions and your estate plan with other sensitive documents but not so secure that they cannot be acquired, such as in a bank safety deposit box.
Funding Your Funeral
The average costs of a funeral can easily exceed $10,000. The price increases based on the type of religious memorial services held, wakes and viewings, and transportation. If you don’t plan on how the funeral will be be funded, the costs may fall on your loved ones.
Many funeral costs can be prepaid. From burial plots and cremation to caskets to services, many of the most costly aspects of a funeral service can be paid prior to death. These prepaid services are much more likely to be used by loved ones. Additionally, the prepaid service already has all the important information necessary to perform their duties. However, you will need to make sure these services are what you want. Many prepaid funeral services are nonrefundable or have cancellation fees.
Planning out your funeral expenses may not be a typical area of estate planning, it is an important part of a complete estate plan. It adds to the peace of mind and security for you and your loved ones. The primary goal of estate planning is to provide security and stress relief for you and your loved ones. Anything that reaches that goal should be warmly welcomed in any estate plan.