End-of-life planning can be an emotional process, with many considerations — from arranging the burial to writing an obituary. This burden is often left to loved ones, who may struggle to take care of everything during an already challenging time.
Something you can do, as part of your estate planning, is help start the process. You can choose to create a more formal in-case-of-death binder with all the key information and plans or have some basic thoughts and ideas down on paper.
This funeral planning checklist can help.
1. Gather the necessary documents and information
You can start by getting organized. This will really help your loved ones as they move through viewing your will and estate.
You'll want to get your key legal and financial documents in order, these can include:
- Your will
- You life insurance policy
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Social security number
- Any deeds or titles to assets
- Any documentation on loans
- Credit card information
- Bank account information
2. Have a list of key people to notify
As you're gathering your financial documents, also make a list of people you would like notified when you pass.
Include your loved ones, as well as friends — but also don't forget about your lawyer or accountant, doctor, employer or people involved with any community or religious groups you belong to.
3. Choose burial preferences
If you have a preference for your burial, as well as where you'd like it to take place, make this known.
You can also choose a funeral home and work with the director there to pick out the specifics of what you'd like. Funeral directors as well versed in the many options and can gently guide you through the process.
4. Plan the service
You might also want to have a say in your funeral service, or if you want one at all. State your preferences and how you'd like the service to go, including any music, readings, etc.
You can also choose to set out a plan for any events or receptions that would follow the service, especially if you have a favorite place in mind.
5. Consider funeral costs
The typical funeral service costs the average family close to $8,000 — while that usually covers funeral planning, securing permits and death certificates, preparing notices, taking care of the remains and coordinating burial arrangement, it does not include optional services.
If you want to also have a viewing, memorial services or use of a hearse and gravesite staff, that costs extra.
If you're worried your loved ones might not have the funds to cover your funeral and burial, there are some options you can explore to help with these costs:
- Life insurance — When you choose a life insurance policy and name your beneficiaries, the death benefit of your policy will go to them as long as the policy is in-force at the time of your death.
- Final expense insurance — Final expense insurance can be used to pay for medical bills in addition to burial and funeral costs. Final expense insurance can be useful if you have a pre-existing health condition that may prevent you from securing a more traditional life insurance policy, it's also often more affordable with premiums that generally don't increase over time.
- Burial insurance — Burial policies are typically small life insurance policies that can range anywhere from $5,000 up to $25,000. In many cases, you can name your funeral home as the beneficiary as a way to pre-pay for your final expenses. It also helps remove some of the burden of your loved ones to coordinate payment.
Planning a funeral can be a confusing and expensive process. By using a checklist and getting the right insurance in place, you can make the decisions ahead of time, helping to relieve your loved ones during a very difficult time.