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Planning Your Own Funeral

Advanced Funeral Planning

Nobody likes to think about their own death. That may be why most of the time, loved ones are left to iron out funeral details.  Preparing in advance for your ultimate demise can make things a lot easier on the family you leave behind.  The knowledge that you have prepared in advance can also offer you some peace of mind.  It is estimated by the National Funeral Directors Association that only around 25% of Americans have discussed their funeral wishes with a loved one.  The following are tips for starting to think about your own funeral. They are also helpful if you find yourself in the position of making final arrangements for a deceased loved one.

Plan (But Don’t Pay) in Advance

Funeral homes will try to sell you a plan that is purportedly a better deal if you buy it now, long before you may die.  That is not advised.  The funeral can be planned in advance without pre-paying.  The major drawback to paying ahead of time is that your situation could change.  If you have no reason to believe your death is imminent, many things could happen in the interim – you could decide to move out of state, or the funeral home could go out of business, for example. There are a few financial situations involving Medicare, where it may be a smart move to pay in advance.  Talk with your financial advisor about those situations.  You could also set up a payable-on-death account at your bank.  This type of account allows you to designate a beneficiary who can withdraw the funds upon your death in order to pay for your funeral.

Average Funeral Cost in California

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website has a page that is a good place to start.  It explains each part of the funeral process and provides a checklist of items for you to go over with the funeral home.  According to the website World Population Review, the average cost of a funeral in California is nearly $12,000, which is the at top of the national range.  

Comparison Shop

The high costs of a funeral mean it should be treated like other large purchases.  Think of it like buying a car, which you would never do without researching and negotiating.  It is easier to complete this process when you have given the decision advanced thought.  Do not buy a plan from the first funeral home you visit – another a few miles down the road may offer similar services for thousands less.  Call around – although the staff may be reluctant to talk pricing, the FTC’s Funeral Rule requires that funeral businesses quote prices over the telephone or in person. They are not currently required to post prices online or give quotes by email, but there is advocacy underway to update the rule, which was enacted in 1984 before internet use was widespread. 

Package Deals – Buy Only What You Want

Funeral homes sell packages of services and goods.  Sometimes the package will not include everything you want, and often much that you do not need.  Be sure you know what each package includes, and remember that you do not have to buy a package deal.  Goods and services are for sale individually, which may end up being a better choice.  Also, you do not have to purchase everything from the funeral home you choose to work with.  For instance, urns and caskets are available on Amazon.  Amazon will send a casket to the funeral home of your choice with free shipping if you are a prime member.  

Look for Group Discounts

Groups like AARP or memorial societies often have negotiated discounts with funeral homes.  They also can provide funeral planning guidance.  

Write Down Your Plans and Talk About Them

Though many are uncomfortable talking about death, it is important to let your loved ones know your specific wishes – including how much you want to spend.  Make them a part of the process but understand that they may not deliver on everything you request – so leave them plenty of room for flexibility.  The goal of advanced planning is to take some of the burdens off of those you leave behind, and not leave them guessing about your final wishes. 

Watch the YouTube video.  The clip below features a mortician offering tips on making your Death Plan.

Vacaville Wrongful Death Lawyer

Hello, and thanks for reading.  I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer in Vacaville, California.  Planning in advance can really help your loved ones in the event of an unpredictable tragic event.  When a person is killed as a result of the negligent actions of another person or business, it is known as wrongful death, and there may be avenues of financial recovery for the grieving loved ones to explore.  Call my office at (800) 404-5400 or (707) 564-1900 for compassionate, free, and friendly advice.

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