tips for planning a funeral for yourself

Last Wishes: Do You Know If Your Loved One Would Rather Be Cremated?

It's tough to plan a funeral when grief overcomes you after the death of a loved one. All too often, last wishes aren't made known to family. Guessing whether your loved one wants a religious service or a secular service, to be buried in a dark blue suit or a festive red dress, to be buried or cremated are all decisions that are difficult to make under duress. Mortality isn't an easy subject to broach. It's important to communicate any last wishes with family members. But when your loved one dies suddenly, leaving no such wishes, you're left with the unknown.

So What Do You Do Next?

Ask for help. Grief can feel insurmountable. Call on family and friends to help you through the initial decisions. Any religious or traditional custom should be voiced immediately to the funeral home so that they can prepare the body properly for visitation, burial or cremation. State law requires that someone who has died be either embalmed or placed in refrigeration if 24 hours has passed since death. It can take a couple days before your loved one's body is transported to the mortuary.

Final Arrangements: Questions To Ask

You will need to finalize details with the funeral director at your chosen funeral home. You should ask questions regarding alternatives to traditional burial or cremation services, like anatomical gifting to an educational institution. Ask about both typical and atypical fees. You should also know about the Federal Funeral Rule which requires funeral directors to completely disclose all costs. You also have the right to inquire about how long the funeral home has been in business and if they are licensed.

The funeral director can help you with funeral specific details, whether or not your loved one's end-of-life wishes were known. If they were not known, your funeral director can help you discern how to determine what will be the best recourse for your loved one's final disposition. Remember, it's a possibility that not all family members will be satisfied with all the decisions you make. That's okay.

After Everything Settles Down

Loss takes its toll on families and you need to take plenty of bereavement time before addressing your loved one's final financial affairs. These may include: banking, social security, taxes, legal documents, and credit card issues.

A Parting Thought: Five Wishes

Living wills can help you get your own affairs in order. If you have no other advance directives or living wills, Five Wishes can help you legally provide your last wishes to your family. Peace of mind is a wonderful gift to give.