When I reluctantly agreed to write this blog about the costs of final expenses, I thought that it would be a simple task.  Realizing that we generally don’t want to think about our mortality, understanding the costs of burying a loved one (or preparing for our funeral) is an important part of life planning and getting our financial ducks in a row.  Adequate planning on our part can minimize the financial and emotional impact our passing has on our loved ones.

I stopped by a local funeral home and picked up a planning and pricing packet, which was a lot more comprehensive than I had expected.  It contained a wide array of topics such as making funeral arrangements, officiants involved in the process, memorial contributions, and the planning of the service or celebration of life.  Also, it provided a lot of good information regarding the grieving and bereavement process, and legal issues such as understanding probate, obtaining death certificates, and handling of one’s estate.

It has been more than 20 years since my father passed away, and, to be honest, I don’t recall the process of meeting with the funeral director and pastors to plan the events surrounding his death.  I’m sure that my mother shouldered the majority of that responsibility and made these decisions, along with the influence of my sister and me.  What struck me while reading this planning and bereavement guide is the vast number of decisions to be made, all while in mourning the loss of a loved one.

The costs associated with loss can feel overwhelming.  They can include general services of a funeral director and staff; embalming; use of funeral home facility or place of worship for viewing; equipment and vehicles (hearse); transfer of remains; burial or cremation; casket or urn; graveside service, funeral or celebration of life service; and the headstone to name a few.  Fortunately, funeral homes likely take some initiative to provide packages that help streamline the decisionmaking process.  There are no right or wrong decisions as these are personalized and should reflect you and your life. They can be as simple or as elegant as you or your planners want them to be.

What I took away from my research is that these are difficult decisions to comprehend and yet it is a very real reality that we will all be part of the planning process at some point in our lives.  The more thought we put into planning our funeral now (service details, burial vs. cremation, wills, & estate planning), the less we will burden others from having to make these decisions while also grieving our absence. 

I encourage you to get your financial ducks in a row by preplanning and purchasing a life insurance policy to cover the real costs of final expenses so that you don’t leave your family with the hardship of covering the costs.

Chad Yoder, CIC, CISR
Partner, Personal Insurance Advisor