The Gift of Pre-Planned Funeral Arrangements
by Rebecca Imholz, licensed Funeral Director and Insurance Agent with James A. McAlister Funerals and Cremation
My Aunt Virginia was born in 1919, grew up during the Great Depression and was a member of the “Greatest Generation,” as a young bride during World War II. She was widowed in her 40’s and worked in a show factory until her retirement. Aunt Virginia did not have children but had the love of her many nieces and nephews. When she died at the age of 84 she left us a precious gift – her pre-planned and paid funeral. This gift gave us time following her passing to be together, reminiscing and sharing our love for her. It was her greatest gift to us.
While some families consider making funeral arrangements a part of responsible estate planning, others see pre-planned funerals as a very personal gift. It frees your loved ones from having to make difficult (and distracting) decisions during a difficult time.
Pre-planning has several other advantages
• You and your family can be assured that the remembrance you’ve planned is both well-conceived and appropriate.
• It allows you to give your own input about the service and assures you get what you want.
• You can protect your life insurance and other assets for uses other than your funeral expenses
• It holds funeral costs at today’s level
• A variety of payment options are available
• It is an non-countable asset if you apply for Medicaid in the future
• It’s transferable should you move
• For Veterans, required paperwork for a burial with military honors can be gathered ahead of time
Frequently asked questions
1. Who is the family member best qualified to do the pre-planning?
You are. This is an opportunity to you to give your loved ones a precious gift. It can help ease that important first step through the grieving process.
2. Does pre-planning require immediate funding?
No. The most important step is to start the planning process
3. Is pre-planning appropriate for someone with no immediate family nearby?
Yes. It’s actually most appropriate for you if you have no close relatives or it your immediate family lives far away.
4. How long does it take to pre-plan?
That’s up to you. It’s as easy as starting a file in your name. Then the funeral home can work with you in a timeframe that’s most comfortable and practical for you.
5. Why is it important to work with a funeral home?
When you work directly with a funeral home you are being guided through the pre-planning process by a licensed professional who understands your emotional needs and values your budget.
6. How do I start?
Starting the process of pre-planning is as simple as making a phone call to your local funeral home a setting up a meeting. During the pre-planning meeting, a licensed professional can guide you through the pre-planning process with every service and option described in detail. All options can be itemized for your review and financial arrangements discussed.
In a 2017 survey conducted by the National Funeral Directors Association, 62.5 percent of consumers felt it was very important to communicate their funeral plans and wishes to family members prior to their own death, yet only 21.4 percent had done so. The survey notes that people choose to make funeral arrangements ahead of time for two primary reasons: so that their survivors wouldn't have to pay for them or worry about them; and to guarantee the individual's final wishes are taken care of exactly how they want them.
If you have the opportunity to plan things ahead of time, you're commemorating a life that's been lived. Your family is saved financial and more importantly, emotional stress. And you, like my Aunt Virginia, have given them a uniquely precious gift.