Downs Law Firm, P.C.

Plan your own funeral

How Do You Plan Your Own Funeral?

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Funeral pre-planning and pre-arranging is becoming more popular. Unfortunately, not everyone is able, or willing, to talk about their own mortality.

It’s definitely uncomfortable to plan your own funeral. However, planning your final arrangements yourself eliminates a lot of stress and anxiety for other family members, who otherwise may be left to guess what you wanted. Doing this, says the Leesville Daily Leader, in the article “Planning for the end of your life,” lets you make the decisions.

Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Do you want to be buried or cremated?
  • Do you want to donate your body to science?
  • Do you want a funeral or memorial service?
  • What music do you want played?
  • Do you want flowers, or would you prefer donations to a charity?
  • Do you want people to speak, or do you prefer that only a religious leader speak?
  • What clothing do you want to be buried in?
  • Have you purchased a plot or a gravestone?
  • Who should be notified about your death?
  • Do you want an obituary published in the newspaper?
  • Have you written your obituary yet?
  • Who knows about the planning you have done?
  • Should you prepay the costs?
  • Who will have access to funds for payment of bills that will be needed?

When I talk to loved ones after a client has died, I always think of the process as if I had just walked into the middle of a movie. What is going on now? The more breadcrumbs you leave for your friends and family, the better they can follow your plans. Answering the above questions and giving access to the answers to your family is a good place to start. Writing your obituary is a good exercise to value your remaining time and review what matters most.

Along with taking time to plan your own funeral, there are other estate matters that need to be attended to before you pass. Do you have a will, power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, or a living will? Make sure that your family members and your executor know where these documents can be found.

If you do not have an estate plan in place, now is the time to meet with an estate planning attorney and create a plan.

Your family will need to be able to access information about your accounts: investment accounts, credit cards, utility bills, Social Security, pension, retirement funds, and other assets and property. A list of the professionals you work with will be needed, including your estate planning attorney, CPA, financial adviser, and your healthcare providers.

If you are a veteran, you’ll need a copy of your DD-214 in your documents for your final arrangements, or let family members know where it is located. They will need it, or the funeral home will need it, when applying for burial benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cemetery Administration. If you wish to be buried in a national cemetery, you’ll need VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery. This must be completed and sent to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office. Include a copy of the DD-214 with the application.

Your family will greatly appreciate it if you plan your own funeral. Well planned final arrangements will add to your legacy, and discussing these details ahead of time is a rehearsal for the inevitable. It is a loving way, when the time comes, to take care of them one last time.

Reference: Leesville Daily Leader (May 1, 2019) “Planning for the end of your life”