Most people wish to think about funerals, and all things related to death, as little as possible. While that’s understandable, it’s not very practical. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, there’s a 100% incidence of death. It’s foolish to ignore something that is guaranteed to happen.

So, for those acknowledging the inevitability, what is there to do about it anyway? Many find that advance planning of final needs gives them peace of mind, allowing them to get rid of that nagging thought, much like planning for college or saving for a wedding. Advance planning of final needs can take several forms.

At its simplest, advance planning means acknowledging that, some day in the future, death will occur and something must be done. A simple funeral plan might include defining one’s choice for cremation or burial, a military funeral or a religious funeral, or a wake and funeral versus a memorial service.

A more in-depth funeral plan includes a choice of celebrant and eulogizer, names of pallbearers, preferred funeral readings, and choice of funeral music. Considering these details in advance allows you to define your preferences, and, as importantly, communicate them to your family. It’s critically important that families understand each other’s preferences for final needs both to honor wishes and to avoid or reduce stress and conflict.

The most complete funeral planning happens by sitting with a funeral director and formalizing a funeral or cremation plan. Once the details have been defined, the plan is paid for so that no more planning or payment is required. Prepayment generally provides the lowest funeral price or cremation price, and protects the family from coming up with funeral funds at the time of death.

Are there disadvantages to planning? Possibly. If you communicate your preferences to your family, and then alter your preferences without communicating that change, your family may not know and accommodate your wishes.

Advance payment requires trust in the business you contract with as well as a carefully considered contract. With prepayment, planners must ensure that the contract provides for all negotiated funeral services, and that services that are covered, or not covered, are carefully detailed. Some contracts contain clauses to address backing out of the contract, either due to relocation or a change of heart. Before signing a contract and prepaying for funeral services, read the agreement carefully, and fully understand all inclusions. Lastly, preplanning and prepaying for funeral costs only makes sense if you trust the funeral home or cremation service you sign with.

For more information on funeral planning, don’t hesitate to contact us at the John P. Donohue Funeral Home & Cremation Services, an Upper Darby funeral home providing greater Philadelphia funeral services. Funeral Director Bart Cavanagh and our caring staff are always available to help.