Editor’s note: this is part two of a multi-part series about funerals.
Funeral pre-planning and pre-arranging is becoming more popular. Unfortunately not everyone is able, or willing, to talk about their own mortality.
For some it is just too uncomfortable. But making your own funeral arrangements or planning your own funeral will eliminate a lot of stress and anxiety on loved ones who are left to plan a meaningful funeral that reflects you.
By pre-planning or pre-arranging your own service you are choosing every detail that you want, or don’t want for yourself.
When you pre-arrange your own funeral you are deciding those details and paying for your funeral in advance.
Things to consider when pre-planning
Do you want to be buried or cremated? If you want to be cremated, in Louisiana the majority of your next-of-kin must agree to your cremation, unless you make your wishes known before you die. This can be done with pre-planning.
Do you want a funeral or memorial service?
What music do you want played?
What flowers do you want?
What style and color of casket or urn do you want?
Do you want a eulogy read, if so, by who?
Do you have a clothing preference you want to be buried in?
Do you want a wake or celebration of life gathering held, if so, where?
Where do you want to be interned?
Do you own a plot?
What are your religious preferences?
Do you want to write your own obituary, if not what information do you want included in your obituary?
Where do you want your obituary published? Your hometown?
Do you want donations to a specific charity in lieu of flowers?
Who should be notified of your death?
Important information to include with pre-planning
Do you have any pre-paid funeral arrangements? If so, where?
Have you written a Will? If so, where is it located?
Who is in charge of your funeral arrangements?
Do you have a Trust? If so, where is it located? Who are your Trustees?
Do you have any insurance policies? If so, where are they located?
Do you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney or a Living Will? Is it current? Where is it located?
Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney? If so, where is it located?
Include a list of all of your financial accounts and insurance policies including company names, account numbers and contact information.
Include a list of all of your sources of income.
Have you designated a “Payable on Death” for any of your financial accounts?
Include a list of passwords and pin numbers for your executor, representative or family to access accounts.
Include a list of your important or valuable assets and real estate property.
Do you have a safety deposit box? Where is it located and who has a key?
Where are your tax returns located?
Include a list of your attorneys, accountants and insurance agents.
Additional information for veterans
There are additional things to consider and forms to be completed if you are a veteran. First and foremost is to include a copy of your DD-214 in your pre-planning documentation or identify where it is being stored. It will be required by your family or the funeral home when applying for burial benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cemetery Administration.
Certain veterans, spouses and dependents are eligible for specific burial benefits such as a gravesite in one of the 136 national cemeteries that has available space; opening and closing of the grave; perpetual care; a Government headstone or marker; a burial flag; and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for a burial allowance. Cremated remains are buried in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
In order to be buried in a national cemetery,VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, must be completed and sent to National Cemetery Scheduling Office. Be sure to include a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 with the application. They will verify eligibility and send then a letter confirming or denying said eligibility.
If you wish to be buried in a national cemetery, be sure to get this letter and include it in you pre-planning documentation.
This is by far not an all inclusive list of things to consider and provide when planning for the end of your life. It is, however, a good place to start.
The next part in this series will focus on funeral expenses and ways to pay them.