Originally published in the Memphis Daily News on 7/23/15
By Ray and Dana Brandon
Pre-planning your funeral may well be the most important and considerate gift you leave your family.
When you plan in advance, there is time to contemplate decisions such as what type of service you would like – traditional or unique and related to the life you have led. You also limit costs when you plan in advance, limiting the trauma and “upsell” risk to your family. When you plan in advance, you decide the priorities.
Pre-planned does not necessarily mean pre-paid. It just means you’ve thought through all of the options in a careful, analytical fashion and written it down in a way your family will understand and respect. It’s important to remember that the budget you work out as you are planning your funeral today will need to be adjusted for inflation. Some funeral homes do offer a guaranteed price plan, but there may still be unforeseen costs down the road. Try to build in a cushion to handle inflation or unforeseen costs.
Once you have made your decisions, you can look into payment. There are several options for this including savings and life insurance, funeral insurance, pay on death accounts and pre-payment. If you choose the pre-pay route, be aware that there are a number of consumer advocacy groups that feel it is inadvisable to pre-pay.
Allow someone else to be involved in the process so that in the event of your death, everyone knows that arrangements have been made.
Funeral pre-planning is a practice that is becoming more common and appreciated. By making these decisions ahead of time, you are taking the pressure off your loved ones in a time grief and giving them one last gift.
Do you remember making mix tapes? Or maybe you still make them, but use your iPod or other smart device to store your music mix these days.
When planning for your funeral, the mix of music you choose can really set the tone for how you want friends and family to remember you. There’s a Trisha Yearwood song called “The Song Remembers When” that I think really speaks to this subject. I think we’ve all experienced that sense of deja vu when a particular song comes on the radio, and, for a split second, we’re back somewhere in time.
While a funeral is far from a joyous occasion, think about choosing music that brings back happy memories of good times and good friends. Choose songs from across your whole life to bring back the most memories. It’s a good way to let those who care for you smile amidst the tears.
Ray Brandon, CEO of Brandon Financial Planning, and his wife, Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, can be reached at brandonplanning.com.