For many, pre-planning your funeral needs is about the worst task imaginable.  No matter how gloomy it may be, it should be done to relieve stress upon the family during one of the hardest times imaginable.  There are several reasons a person should pre-plan their funeral needs especially if they are approaching retirement. 

First, it is a definite way to ensure whether you are cremated or buried.  A lot of people wish to be buried among a family cemetery or have a ‘green’ cremation.  By taking care of those plans prior to your death, you ensure your wishes are ensued. Secondly, it takes a lot of stress away from a family who has just endured a tragic loss.  I make this comment based both as a professional and upon personal experience.  As a daughter, I was so glad my father had taken care of everything prior to his passing and pre-paid for all plans. As if the process of sitting with the funeral director is not hard enough, it simply made the time spent answering those types of questions go quicker. Additionally, as a professional, I have not heard one complaint from a child or spouse if the deceased pre-planned their funeral arrangements.  Rather, the child and/or spouse felt relieved to know their loved one received exactly what they wanted. Third, pre-planning avoids causing a financial strain upon the family.  A lot of my clients wish to be buried but have not set aside sufficient funds to pay for the burial which can easily cost in excess of $10,000.  If children or relatives do not have the funds to properly bury someone, then burial may not be an option.  Fourth, if you become sickly, so that your medical bills become astronomical, and are required to apply for Medicaid, burial space of up to $1,500 cannot disqualify you for Medicaid.  Also, an irrevocable prearranged funeral contract will also not disqualify you from receiving Medicaid.  However, please ensure the funeral home is familiar with issuing such contracts as Medicaid can become complicated. 

Lastly, it completes the estate plan.  A thorough estate plan will provide you with Powers of Attorney, a Living Will and a Last Will & Testament or Trust.  A discussion of how to title assets and what future steps may be necessary to remove certain assets or retitle assets is also appropriate.  Equally important is a discussion about pre-payment of funeral planning.  So simply asked: Have you made plans yet or will your spouse and/or child?

Misty Piekaar



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