How to plan a funeral or cremation service ahead of time
1.) Know the choices.
How would your loved one like to be remembered? One strategy to personalize a funeral is by planning in advance. Your family member's funeral or cremation service should be personalized to reflect his or her wishes and should bring comfort to surviving family and friends. Today no two services are alike. Videos, photographs, music, special readings and the involvement of family and friends are all appropriate and encouraged.
Prearranging gives your loved one the opportunity to become informed about their options in a pressure-free environment, when he or she has the time to think things through. They're in full control and can select and specify the services that truly have meaning to them and those they love. A local Dignity Memorial® provider can explain all of the options available – and can accommodate your loved one's wishes to make the celebration a truly unique and personal experience.
2.) Wishes need to be properly documented.
Many people think they have taken care of everything by writing a will, establishing a living will or even purchasing their cemetery plot. But that's not all they have to do to ensure their wishes are honored. A will simply imparts instructions for the handling of an individual's financial affairs, while a living will clarifies certain wishes regarding medical treatment. Even if your loved one has completed both of these documents, their funeral or cremation service still remains to be planned and paid for. Your loved one's survivors benefit the most when they prearrange.
When a funeral or cremation service is not planned in advance, someone who may not be aware of a person's preferences may have to make all of the decisions. Prearranging ensures that your loved one's wishes are made known. Make sure that their desires are recorded in writing, and shared with family members as well as an attorney. Keep a copy with important papers in a place that is easily accessible to family members. A local Dignity Memorial provider can offer a valuable Personal Planning Guide to help your loved one record his or her wishes.
3.) Involve the rest of the family.
A funeral or memorial service is an important part of the grieving process. For family members and friends, the service provides an opportunity to express their grief, to share memories and to celebrate a life well-lived. When planning your loved one's funeral or memorial service, the opinions and wishes of their family should be considered.
Prearranging is an excellent time for relatives to discuss and make objective decisions calmly and rationally together, away from the pressures and stress that often occur at a time of sadness and loss. Involving those most affected by your loved one's death can foster peace of mind and a sense of relief. More importantly, knowing their deceased loved one's wishes and carrying them out can bring great comfort to surviving family members and friends.
4.) Decide on the method of final disposition.
Whether your loved one chooses traditional burial, mausoleum entombment, or interment in a cremation garden, determining your loved one's final disposition is a very personal decision, one that is influenced by their faith and beliefs. Their wishes should be specified in a prearrangement document and clearly discussed with family members and loved ones ahead of time. The Dignity Memorial network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers offers a wide range of services and options to help commemorate a life.
5.) Don't be afraid to ask about prices.
The funeral and cremation cost can vary considerably from place to place. Be careful to choose a funeral home that presents its prices clearly and simply. Funeral and cremation costs are subject to inflation. When your loved one prearranges, they benefit from selecting and locking in services at today's prices, free from future inflationary pressures.
Prearranging also gives your loved one the opportunity to become informed about their options and the various costs in a more relaxed environment. They're in full control, and can thus make more objective decisions regarding affordability. Your loved one may decide to spend less or more, but the decision remains theirs. Prearranging enables your loved one to keep their financial commitment to a comfortable level while eliminating the future financial burden placed on surviving family members.
6.) Consider planning and prepaying for arrangements.
Planning a funeral or cremation service in advance can take care of the details. But only prearranging (prepaying for services) can take care of the actual expense of the funeral or cremation service ahead of time, easing the future financial burden on surviving loved ones. Prepaying for your loved one's funeral or cremation services makes good financial sense. When one prearranges, they benefit from purchasing at today's prices for an event that may not happen for many years. The cost of the products and services they select may never be lower than it is today.
7.) Insurance may not cover everything.
Life insurance, as well as final expense insurance, typically provides a one-time lump sum benefit after a death has occurred. However, there is no guarantee that the funds will not be consumed by a long-term illness or serious accident. Insurance cannot make the many decisions that are required in a time of need. Even with insurance in place, the actual funeral or cremation service still needs to be planned and paid for. This can be a complicated task during a time of grief and loss. In addition, insurance policies are not protected against inflation. Prices of products and services will continue to rise, while the amount of your loved one's policy coverage remains the same. Survivors may not have enough left from the insurance proceeds to cover the higher cost of funeral expenses. Prearrangements purchased through us combine the benefits of insurance with a guaranteed funeral or cremation service and price – leaving the life insurance untouched for the living.
8.) A prearranged service may be Medicaid exempt.
If your loved one plans to apply for Medicaid assistance for a surviving family member, a prearranged funeral agreement can be extremely beneficial in meeting their needs. In many states, a prearranged funeral or cremation service funded by life insurance may be treated as an exempt asset for Medicaid qualification purposes. This allows your loved one to prearrange the service they desire, while maintaining their Medicaid eligibility. Many states have no maximum limit for the amount of a prearranged funeral or cremation service. To learn more about your state's individual requirements, consult with an attorney before applying for Medicaid assistance.
9.) A loved one may be able to get government benefits.
Most funeral and burial benefits provided by the Social Security Administration as well as the Veterans Administration (VA) are limited. Many families find that additional funding is necessary in order to provide the type of funeral or cremation service they deem appropriate for their loved one. Under certain conditions, Social Security provides a one-time death benefit to the spouse of an eligible recipient. For non-service related deaths, the VA will pay up to $300 for burial and funeral expenses and offers a plot interment allowance of up to $300, in lieu of burial in a National Cemetery. To find out exactly what benefits you are eligible to receive, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-722-1213 or visit their website at: www.ssa.gov
. For veteran's assistance, contact the Veterans Administration office at 1-800-827-1000 or go to www.va.gov
. Our caring staff can assist you with any government forms.
10.) Speak with our caring staff.
Arranging a funeral or cremation service can seem overwhelming and complicated, but there's always a caring staff member close by who can help. The Apollo are trained professionals who can be a vital and supportive resource for you and your loved ones. Due to their years of experience, our directors can explain all the options available and help you and your family make informed decisions. They can also guide your loved one step-by-step through the process of prearranging their funeral or cremation service.