A Time For Grieving or A Time For Celebration?

A funeral planning checklist will provide some relief at a time of grieving. This is true of all checklists such as: car buying, travel, and sending junior off to college.

Overwhelming is one way to describe the immediate days after a death. If you know where to begin and what needs to be done, (funeral planning checklist), it would be so much easier. Just check the items as they are completed and there is no need to think about them again.

The first thing to determine is what type of service, if any, is desired. If the deceased has expressed his/her desires, you could start there and modify as you need.

Most funeral homes will have their own funeral planning checklist and take care of or prompt you to take care of certain items.

Type of Service!

Will the deceased be buried or entombed or cremated? Will there be a religious or non-religious service? Will there be a memorial service at a later date? Do you prefer a “celebration of life” rather than a memorial service?

When these questions are answered, the planning begins. The answers will determine the expense of the service. For example, a traditional, full service funeral will involve embalming, a casket, a service, and more.

Whereas, a “simple cremation” would involve a whole lot less. And it would be much, much less expensive. Remember – the casket is often the most expensive item in a funeral.

Keep in mind that you can shop for funeral prices on the phone. The Funeral Rule (see below) requires funeral homes to discuss and provide prices on the phone. A telephone interview can be more convenient and less stressful.

“Life Celebration” versus a Funeral!

Rather than mourning the death, it is a celebration of one’s life. It’s a happier event that is totally free of any format.

I recently attended such an event. There was food, some reminiscing, and much happiness. It was held several months after the death and was a family and friends reunion.

A “Life Celebration” is a fresh and unique type of memorial. There is laughter rather than tears. Although there may be some tears, too.

“Family Love Letter”!

I can only hope that the deceased had a Family Love Letter”. Because, in that letter you will find:

  • funeral wishes
  • people to contact before and after a service
  • exact names of siblings and parents
  • bank accounts
  • investment accounts
  • credit card numbers
  • financial contacts
  • social security numbers
  • loans, mortgages, and any debts
  • property titles
  • life insurance policies
  • contacts for accountant, attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, etc.
  • computer ID’s & passwords
  • and much, much more

Information That You Will Need to
Take To Funeral Home!

  • Given name
  • Date and birthplace
  • Employment information
  • Father’s name & birthplace
  • Mother’s maiden name & birthplace
  • Those family members who have died
  • Survivors and relationship to deceased
  • Military records
  • Hobbies, interests
  • Schools attended
  • Noteworthy accomplishments

Funeral Fees!

Obviously, the cost of a funeral will vary greatly. The least expensive would be a simple cremation and no service.

You will need several copies of death certificates and an obituary – most often.

The costs escalate with embalming, other preparations, a casket, funeral home or church viewing, ceremony or memorial service, transportation to the cemetery, etc.

What Is The Funeral Rule?

It is a law that applies to funeral homes. I suspect that the law was enacted to prevent the grieving spouse or family from being ripped off at a difficult time in their lives.

The law requires that the family of the deceased receive a written copy of all charges. Also, a price list of the caskets available must be provided before showing the caskets. If the lower priced caskets are not displayed, ask to see them.

Keep in mind that you can purchase a casket from someone other than the funeral home and the Funeral Rule requires that it must be used without an additional fee.

Caskets can be rented for a visitation service when a body is to be cremated. And, inexpensive, unfinished wood boxes, cardboard, or canvas enclosures must be available for cremation.

The law also makes it illegal for funeral providers to claim that a body will be preserved from decomposition indefinitely. Dirt, water, and debris will eventually penetrate a vault and casket.

Prepaid Funerals!

If it is already done, so be it. But, if you are contemplating doing so, here are some things to consider.

  • Are you paying for merchandise (casket or vault) or are you buying funeral services?
  • Protections vary from state to state. Some state laws require that a percentage of the prepayment be placed in a state-regulated trust.
  • What happens to the money that you have paid? Does the interest accumulate in your account?
  • Are you protected if the funeral home goes out of business?
  • What if you change your mind? Can you get a refund?
  • What happens if you move to another state?

It is important to tell your family about any plans that you have made. Without them knowing, you may have pre-paid for nothing.

Pre-planning your own funeral should provide some peace-of-mind for your family. They will have fewer decisions to make during a difficult emotional time.

Miscellaneous Suggestions!

Get 10 to 15 death certificates. You will need them.

If there is to be a eulogy, be prepared to provide that person with lots of information about the deceased. The eulogizer must capture the essence of the person. See How to Write a Eulogy.

The deceased may be eligible for burial in a veterans’ cemetery.

If the deceased has made advanced preparations for their funeral, you will need that information.


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