Have You Planned Your Own Funeral?

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KS and MO Attorney Kyle E Krull

Written by Kyle Krull

Attorney & Counsellor at Law Kyle Krull is president of the Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull, P.A., an Estate Planning Law Firm located in Overland Park, KS. Estate Planning Attorney Kyle Krull has provided continuing education instruction to attorneys, accountants, and financial professionals at local, state, and national programs.

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POSTED ON: June 25, 2024

By considering these aspects of funeral planning now, you can provide a final gift to your loved ones—a well-thought-out plan that eases their load during a difficult time.

Have you ever thought about planning your funeral?

After all, the Bible itself confirms that each of us has an appointment with death: "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)

Given that fact of life (or, is it that fact of death), what have you done about it?

If you are like most people I encounter in my estate planning practice - nothing.

Planning your funeral may seem like a morbid task.

However, it can significantly reduce the stress and financial burden on your loved ones after you die.

Gretchen and I have taken care of this, so "we eat our own cooking" when it comes to this advice.

In fact, our "final resting place" will be at a military cemetery, most likely joining other military family members before us in Fort Scott, Kansas (see photo below).

Choice Mutual's recent article "How To Plan Your Own Funeral: 10-Step Guide + Checklist" explains that making decisions about your funeral arrangements in advance can ensure that your final wishes are respected and that your family is spared from making difficult decisions during a time of grief.

Why Should You Consider Planning Your Funeral Early?

After a death, family and loved ones are responsible for managing your estate and organizing a funeral while grieving.

Planning your funeral early while drafting or as part of your estate plan is a thoughtful and responsible step that alleviates the emotional and financial strain on your loved ones.

If you have already created your estate plan, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you detail your funeral planning in a "My Last Wishes" document or addendum to your estate planning documents.

These documents provide crucial guidance that reflects your personal preferences and eases the decision-making process for loved ones.

Planning your funeral is one of the best gifts you can give to your family. (Fort Scott, Kansas)

What are the First Steps in Pre-Planning Your Funeral?

Choosing a Funeral Home

One of the first decisions in pre-planning is selecting a funeral home.

This choice is crucial as it can significantly affect the logistics and cost of your funeral services.

Consider the reputation, services offered and pricing of different funeral homes.

You can select a funeral home, create a plan, and even prepay for it.

Share existing plans or prepayments with your estate planning lawyer.

Deciding Between Burial and Cremation

Do you prefer a burial or cremation?

Each option involves different considerations, such as the type of ceremony, the handling of remains, and the associated costs. If you choose burial, consider the kind of burial—traditional, in a vault, or natural.

If cremation is your choice, decide whether you want it done before or after the funeral service and what should happen to your ashes.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

Selecting the Type of Funeral or Memorial Service

Your funeral or memorial service can reflect your personality and values.

Decide whether you want a traditional funeral, a celebration of life, or a simple memorial service.

Each type of service offers different atmospheres and can be tailored to how you wish to be remembered.

For LCMS Lutherans, our funeral service is provided in our Lutheran Service Book.

In fact, at the end of a Lutheran funeral, an appropriate question would be, "Did someone die?"

Spoiler alert: "It" is not about us.*

Planning the Ceremony Details

Think about the location, the attendees, and the flow of the ceremony.

Would you prefer a religious, secular, or culturally specific service?

Details like flowers, music, and readings should also be considered, as these can make the service personal and meaningful.

How Can You Ease the Funeral Logistics for Your Family?

Creating a Last Wishes Document as Part of Your Estate Plan

Creating a "My Last Wishes" document of your funeral plans and sharing it with your family is essential.

This document should detail all your decisions—from the type of service to the specifics of your burial or cremation preferences.

It is also wise to discuss these plans with your loved ones to ensure that they understand your wishes and the reasons behind them.

Financial Planning for Funeral Expenses

Consider how you will finance your burial.

Options include savings, life insurance, prepaid burial plans, or relying on your estate.

Your estate planning attorney can guide you in choosing the right prepaid funeral plan based on your financial situation.

What are the Benefits of Planning Your Funeral?

Planning your funeral can significantly ease the emotional and financial burden on your loved ones.

By making critical decisions about your funeral arrangements, such as the type of service and financing options, you ensure that your wishes are honored and relieve your family of added stress.

Consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney can provide clarity and direction, ensuring you make informed decisions integrated with your estate plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Early Planning: Start funeral arrangements early when drafting your estate plan to reduce future stress for your loved ones.
  • Funeral Home Selection: To avoid future complications, choose a funeral home carefully, considering services, reputation, and pricing.
  • Burial vs. Cremation: Decide whether you prefer burial or cremation, and detail your specific wishes for handling these.
  • Planning the Service: Tailor your funeral or memorial service to reflect your personality and values, making the event meaningful for attendees.
  • Documenting Last Wishes: Record all funeral plans, include them with your estate plan, and share them with your family to ensure your final wishes are honored.
  • Financial Planning: Explore financing options like insurance, savings, or prepaid plans to manage funeral costs effectively and prevent financial strain on your family.

*“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Harvest Law KC and the reader.

Reference: Choice Mutual (April 2, 2024) "How To Plan Your Own Funeral: 10-Step Guide + Checklist"

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