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December 13, 2017 Beyond The Dash

Benefits of Pre-planning Your Funeral

Leaving clear instructions for your survivors has many advantages

Benefits of Pre-planning Your Funeral
Find out if pre-planning your funeral arrangements is right for you and your family. (Shutterstock)

Acknowledging your own mortality can be tough. For this reason, many people avoid discussing—or even thinking about—the subject of death. However, there are many benefits to taking the time to clearly lay out your final instructions.

Your impact doesn't end with you

It can be both comforting and terrifying to realize that your death will continue to have an impact on the world long after you're gone. Those you knew in life will be left to mourn. The money and possessions you accrued in life will be redistributed. Your body will have an impact on the environment. If you are an organ donor, your body might even help save lives. 

What is pre-planning?

Funeral pre-planning is your chance to make decisions about how your death will be handled. From the funeral service, to the final resting destination of your remains, to financial considerations, you can have some control over the impact your death has on loved ones, and the world. 

Is pre-planning right for you?

Life is about more than planning your own funeral. If you don't have any specific requests for your post-death care, pre-planning might not be right for you. However, there are many benefits to pre-planning that can help ease your mind about how your final arrangements will be handled. Pre-planning will also unburden your next of kin and survivors of many practical and emotional duties at the time of your death. 

Benefits of making advance funeral arrangements

Death does not ask for permission. Though it is inevitable that you will one day die, you can feel empowered in life knowing your final wishes will be honored once you have departed this earth. There are several benefits to pre-planning that can help you make the decision to start planning.

1. Your family will thank you

When death occurs, there are many sudden decisions for the next of kin to make. They must organize transportation of your body, choose a funeral home and make decisions about organ donation. These are the most immediate tasks that will be assigned to your loved one at the time of your death. Your grief-stricken next of kin will be forced to make quick decisions on your behalf. Desperate to fulfill your wishes, but lacking clear direction from you, the process of handling funeral arrangements will add to the pain of the loss. Without any advance planning, the decisions for your final rest will be made in the moment, based on faulty, grief-based instinct.

For example, you may hope to help others through the gift of organ donation. Even if you verbally direct your survivors to carry out this wish, they may not be able to bring themselves to make the final call when in the thick of new and overwhelming grief. 

When you lay out your final wishes in writing, and make advance arrangements, these decisions are not your family's to make. They can focus instead on processing their emotions and taking care of themselves. They are spared the potential guilt of making the "wrong" decision. 

2. Your family won't have to foot the bill

Planning ahead lets you make financial arrangements to cover the costs of your funeral. What if your family is lacking the required funds to cover expenses at the time of your death? They may be forced to cut corners to make ends meet or go into debt in order to pay for your funeral. 

Even if there is sufficient money to accommodate your funeral, it may not be immediately accessible to your next of kin. Legal matters slow down dispersal of assets at the time of a death, but funerals are time-sensitive and won't wait for probate. 

Planning your funeral in advance allows you to make payments in advance, establish funeral insurance, or otherwise financially protect loved ones from the burden of a costly funeral.

3. Your final wishes will be honored

Will your family know whether you would want to be buried or cremated? Will they settle on an open or closed casket? How much will they spend on your funeral? You can establish your preferences in your funeral plan. 

Many folks worry their family will opt for an expensive, lavish funeral that exceeds their means. Others are concerned that their survivors will not be able to host a proper final send-off. Wherever your final wishes may be, laying out all of your instructions in black and white, and paying in advance for those accommodations, will ensure they are honored to the letter. 

Picking out your own casket is an odd task. However, pre-planning gives you control over the funeral arrangements, and the way you are remembered. (Shutterstock)

4. Your legacy will be cherished

Losing a loved one is never easy. You will be mourned and missed for years to come. You cannot control the emotional journey your survivors will have to undertake in order to heal after your death. However, you can improve the situation they will find themselves in once you are gone. 

By reducing the practical consequences that will arise from your death, you can ensure your loved ones will remember you fondly. The impact of your death will not be overshadowed by a legal and financial mess. They can focus instead on paying tribute to the life you lived, and remembering your character.

A final act of self-reliance

Being self-reliant when it comes to your own funeral arrangements is a thoughtful and caring gift to your family. It is always comforting for a grieving family to know that you have done all you can do to ease their burden. It expresses your love and care for them even after you are gone.

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