When was the last time you thought about your eventual death? Have you ever given thought to your future funeral or burial? These are uncomfortable things we tend to put on the mental back burner for as long as necessary. However, just as with every other area of our lives, ignoring the future can cause problems. It is better to pre-plan as many end-of-life decisions as possible.
Pre-planning it alleviates much of the stress and pressure that can easily lead to poor decisions among surviving family members. Moreover, while it is not possible to plan for everything, planning for as much as possible is a big help. Here are five things to consider in relation to end-of-life planning:
1. How Expenses Will Be Paid
Costs for funerals and burials continued to go up every year. According to PBS, the average funeral in the United States now runs between $8,000 and $10,000. If you do not have a plan in place to pay those expenses, your survivors will be left to cover the costs. Fortunately, there are a number of different options. Most people will choose to purchase term or whole life insurance or invest in a pre-paid funeral plan. Others will choose burial insurance. Burial insurance is an affordable way to cover end-of-life expenses for those who cannot afford, or qualify for, standard life insurance.
2. Burial or Cremation
Individuals need to decide whether they want to be buried or cremated. Cremation tends to be less expensive than interment because there are no caskets or burial plots to worry about. Those who do choose cremation have to decide what to do with their ashes. Will they be vaulted, stored at home, scattered, etc.?
3. Burial Plots
If burial is chosen, the question of burial plots must also be answered. Far too many make unwise decisions about burial plots when those decisions are put off until the death of a loved one. It is a lot wiser to consider the location and cost of burial plots well in advance of meeting them. If entire families want to be buried together, it is also wise idea to purchase all of the necessary plots at the same time. Otherwise, they may not be able to find space as family members age and eventually die.
4. Estate Planning
Estate planning is a very important part of end-of-life planning. How much you want to leave to your loved ones will determine, in part, how you pay for your funeral and burial. For example, if you have a relatively small estate and you want as much as possible to be left to your heirs, burial insurance may be a good option. On the other hand, a rather sizable estate that will be subject to significant death taxes would benefit from every deduction, including paying for funeral and burial expenses directly from the estate.
5. Putting Plans in Writing
All of your faithful planning may come to nothing if you do not put your wishes in writing. In other words, your surviving family members need to be made aware of the plans you have made as well as your preferences for decisions that cannot be made until after you pass. Write down all of your wishes, have the document notarized, and give copies to both your attorney and your family members.
For the record, the Federal Trade Commission recommends creating a document that is separate from your will. A will is typically not opened until after someone’s passing and, when it is, it must go through the probate process. A separate document allows your funeral and burial wishes to be carried out immediately. Having to wait for the probate process would make it impossible to guarantee those wishes were honored.
It is a good idea to plan for your eventual passing. Everything from burial insurance to writing down your wishes will go a long way toward making your passing as easy on your survivors as possible.