Pre-Need Funeral Planning in the News: What You Need to Know the Most

By Gail Rubin

The New York Times and the Huffington Post in Canada just ran separate articles on pre-need funeral planning. I hope this prompts more people to take action and actually plan ahead for this inevitable life cycle event.

Smarter Living (and Dying!)

The New York Times Smarter Living section ran Want to Plan for Your Death and Funeral? Here’s How on February 20, 2018. The story by Christine Colby covers:

  • What constitutes pre-need funeral arrangements;
  • Whether it’s a good idea to pre-pay for those arrangements or not;
  • What if the funeral home goes out of business;
  • What if you move to another market before you die;
  • Can you pre-pay without working with a funeral home?

The story includes quotes by some of my friends in the industry: Amy Cunningham, funeral director at Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in New York; Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance; and Caitlin Doughty, who runs the nonprofit funeral home Undertaking LA with business partner Amber Carvaly.

One important piece of advice:

Perhaps the most important thing to do if you decide to pre-pay is to tell someone about it, including multiple family members and friends. It’s an unfortunate and common occurrence for a family to pay for an expensive service for their loved one and discover only later that prepaid arrangements had been made.

This is a great story with spot-on advice. Read the full story here.

Why, and How, to Plan Your Own Funeral

The same day, the Canadian version of the Huffington Post ran Here’s Why, and How, to Plan Your Own Funeral by Shannon Burberry, a funeral home manager. She introduces the topic saying:

Life is full of experiences, both happy and sad, expected and unexpected. From birthdays and weekly social gatherings, to weddings and funerals, we are always planning. For some milestones, like a wedding, we take extensive time to plan; according to The Knot’s 2015 Real Wedding Study, the average length of a Canadian engagement is 14.5 months. But when we are faced with a sudden loss, we are constrained to less than a week.

Taking the time to plan your funeral can save time and stress for your grieving family members, and give you the opportunity to personalize your celebration of life. If many of us put in months of planning to ensure the big wedding day goes as planned, why wouldn’t we plan our funerals with the same attention to detail?

Pre-planning allows yourself the time you need to gather your thoughts about how your funeral should be. Often in life, we wait until we are required to do something, rather than being proactive. Taking the time when you are healthy or faced with a difficult medical diagnosis provides you with the opportunity to think about your final wishes.

Her pointers include:

  • Design the service you want, one that reflects your personality and passions;
  • Personalize your eulogy with stories that will help people smile or laugh;
  • Your service doesn’t need to take place at a funeral home;
  • Plan for a take-home memento that will help attendees remember you;
  • Reflect your own tastes – after all, it’s your party and you’ll die if you want to (my own commentary!).

Read the full story here.

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