Thinking about your funeral may not be fun, but planning ahead can be exceedingly helpful for your family. It both lets them know your wishes and assists them during a stressful time. The following are steps you can take to plan ahead:
- Name who is in charge. The first step is to designate someone to make funeral arrangements for you. Under Indiana law, you must execute a Funeral Planning Declaration that complies with the requirements of I.C. §29-2-19-13 to designate such a person. If you do not designate someone, I.C. §29-2-19-17 designates the order of priority of people who have the authority to arrange for the disposition of your body and make your funeral arrangements.
- Put your preferences in writing. Write out detailed funeral preferences as well as the requested disposition of your remains. Would you rather be buried or cremated? Do you want a funeral or a memorial service? Where should the funeral or memorial be held? The document can also include information about who should be invited, what you want to wear, who should speak, what music should be played, and who should be pallbearers, among other information. The writing can be a separate document or part of a health care directive. It should not be included in your will because the will may not be opened until long after the funeral.
- Shop around. It is possible to make arrangements with a funeral home ahead of time, so your family does not have to scramble to set things up while they are grieving. Prices among funeral homes can vary greatly, so it is a good idea to check with a few different ones before settling on the one you want. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires all funeral homes to supply customers with a general price list that details prices for all possible goods or services. The rule also stipulates what kinds of misrepresentations are prohibited and explains what items consumers cannot be required to purchase, among other things.
- Inform your family members. Make sure you tell your family members about your wishes and let them know where you have written them down.
- Figure out how to pay for it. Funerals are expensive, so you need to think about how to pay for the one you want. You can pre-pay for a funeral by entering into a preneed contract with a reputable funeral home. These preneed contracts are governed by Indiana law to protect you in the event that the funeral home goes out of business or your family wants to work with a different funeral home. Instead of paying ahead, you can also set up a payable-on-death account with your bank. Make the person who will be handling your funeral arrangements the beneficiary (and make sure they know your plans). You will maintain control of your money while you are alive, but when you die it is available immediately, without having to go through probate. Another option is to purchase a life insurance policy that is specifically for funeral arrangements.
Taking the time to plan ahead will be a big help to your family and give you peace of mind.
For more information on planning your funeral from Kiplinger, click here.
This article appears courtesy of Elder Law Answers, with some edits to reference Indiana law.