Advance funeral planning removes burden for family members

June 10, 2019

By Susan B. Garland at Kiplinger's Retirement Report on May 31, 2019

It may seem to be inviting bad luck to plan your funeral while you are still in decent health. But you will be doing your family a big favor if they can avoid the emotionally tough decisions immediately after you die.

No detail is too small. You can name preferences for a funeral home, eulogists, readings, individuals to invite to a service, and the location of a get-together for mourners. “When people are dealing with the loss of a family member, they are not thinking clearly. It’s an amazing gift to let your family know what you want,” says Abby Schneiderman, co-founder of New York City–based Everplans, an online platform for the storage of end-of-life information.

Topping a funeral-planning checklist should be your choice for burial or cremation. Elva Roy, 73, made it clear to her two sons that she wants a “direct cremation.” A funeral home will deliver the body directly to a crematory, thus eliminating the need for a casket or embalming.

Roy says she found two funeral homes near her home in Arlington, Texas, that will provide the service for less than $1,000, and she has set aside money to pay the tab. A direct cremation is cheaper than a traditional cremation or burial. “I don’t want to enrich funeral homes,” says Roy, who is divorced. “I want to leave as much money as possible to my heirs.”

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