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Pre-Planning / Planning Ahead
"Is this what they would have wanted?" is an all too common question when families come to plan a funeral. Making your wishes clear ahead of time can prove to be a great comfort to loved ones.
What Is Pre-Planning?
Pre-planning is simply the process of drawing up plans for a funeral before they are needed. It involves gathering a variety of family information and making decisions about the type of service you want (e.g. where the funeral itself should take place, and who might participate). Working together with a funeral director or pre-planning counselor, you can plan, organize and record all of your requests.
Our staff can lead you through the process, providing advice and guidance along the way. They will ensure that you have all the information you need about our products and services, allowing you to make informed decisions.
You may choose to pay for the arrangements in advance, or your plans can simply be held on file at the funeral home to be carried out when they are needed and invoiced to the estate or family at that time. Our staff will explain your options when you meet them.
While everyone who makes the decision to pre-plan has their own reasons for doing so, we are often told the greatest motivator is the desire to protect their family by ensuring that they won't face the difficult task of making arrangements at a time of loss.
We advocate pre-planning because our experience has shown us that not only is planning ahead virtually stress-free, but people have the time and information they need to make carefully considered, pressure-free decisions that are the right choices for themselves and their families.
What About Pre-Payment?
For many people, funeral pre-planning has become an extension of the estate planning process. It is simply one more thing they choose to take care of as they plan for retirement and the next stage in their lives.
Choosing to pre-fund funeral arrangements is another way in which people can protect their families, and it can mean locking in the cost of the arrangements at current prices.
Should I Pre-Pay?
Each person's individual circumstances along with other factors will influence this decision, but there are a number of advantages to pre-payment that you should consider:
Guaranteed Services: Once you have fully funded your pre-planned arrangements, we guarantee to deliver the selected services and merchandise regardless of price increases; this can help protect you and your family from the effects of inflation on funeral costs over time.
There are however, related services such as newspaper notices, for which we cannot guarantee because they are not provided by us directly. Our staff are skilled at helping you to estimate these expenditures and to make allowances for them in your funding arrangements.
Estate Planning: People often choose to pre-plan and pre-pay in the years leading up to their retirement. Typically, it is at this point in our lives that we are in our prime earning years and have the most expendable income. For many, this is the easiest time to potentially remove an unpredictable future expense from their financial planning.
Budgeting: Our pre-planning program offers a payment plan option that allows you to pay the cost of selected services and merchandise over a period of time. See our Pre-Payment Options section for details.
Those who choose to pay for funeral arrangements in advance generally have a choice with regards to how and when they pay.
In the United States today we recommend an insurance plan as the ideal way to pay for pre-planned arrangements. This is because of the flexibility and protection it offers. You have the choice of making a single full payment or making regular partial payments over an agreed period of time. In using an insurance plan, most people will have full coverage right away even if they choose to pay over several months or years. In other words, if death should occur unexpectedly after only a few payments have been made, the plans you made will be fully paid for by the insurance company. (Immediate full coverage is subject to a 2-year contestability period related to your medical health). With full payment you are immediately eligible for our locked-in service guarantee, meaning the services you have arranged are paid in full regardless of any increase in our prices between the time of arrangement and the time the funeral plan is carried out.
In today's world of easy travel and active retirees, our insurance products also include the option of special coverage to protect you and your family should a death occur unexpectedly away from home. The necessary care and transport of the deceased can be a significant expense. We will be happy to explain to you how this special policy covers you in such circumstances.
I can tell you more about how these options work and may be able to offer you additional choices and benefits depending on the arrangements you make.
How To Pre-Plan Your Funeral
There are many different ways to begin the planning ahead conversation. You know your family and how they might best respond to the topic. For some families, it might be a casual conversation over dinner or family gathering. For other families, a formal meeting might be better suited.
Regardless of your approach, the conversation is much easier to have when death is not imminent. Bringing up the subject with loved ones earlier in life when they are younger and most likely healthier, makes the topic easier to discuss and keeps the focus on the celebration of life rather than an impending loss.
When you're ready to make a plan, call or send us an email and we will have one of our pre-planning counselors call you to set up an appointment.
Here are some tips that may help you start the advance planning conversation with your loved ones:
Set a time to have the conversation. Schedule it as an appointment with your loved ones, whether you want to share your plans with them or ask them to make their plans to share with you.
Tell your parent or loved one that you want to ensure their final arrangements are done according to their wishes, and you need their help to make that happen.
Ease into the conversation. Questions such as "Have you ever thought about where you would like to be buried?" or "What type of funeral would you like to have?" may open the discussion to more details about your loved one's wishes.
Take advantage of funeral-related opportunities. Attending the funeral of a friend, family member or colleague can give you the opportunity to talk about what you liked or didn't like about the service. Tell your children or loved ones that because you care for them so much, you don't want to burden them with difficult decisions when you're gone. Tell them you've made your own final arrangements, and give them a written record of what they are.
Make it a family affair. Schedule an appointment with your chosen funeral home or cemetery provider and invite your children along to participate in the selection of services, funeral merchandise, and cemetery property.
Whether you're sharing plans for your own final arrangements with loved ones, or encouraging loved ones to make and share their plans with you, the conversation about planning ahead is an important one that every family should have.
While no one wants to think about their death or the death of a loved one any sooner than they must, having the conversation in advance alleviates the need for potentially more unpleasant or difficult conversations in the future.