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Reasons to Pre Plan a
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Planning and paying for a funeral in advance can help control funeral costs and spare family and friends from having to quickly arrange a funeral without knowing exactly what kind of funeral a person would have preferred.

Ensure Final Wishes Are Carried Out
Because every person is different, no two people will have exactly the same preferences regarding their final arrangements. A person’s culture, religion, and budget all play important roles in the type of funeral to be held. Some people may prefer an elaborate, public ceremony while others may want a small, private funeral
attended only by close family and friends. Still others may have strong opinions about whether the casket will be open or closed, or whether remains will be cremated or buried. In any case, the only way to ensure that a person’s final wishes are carried out is to make those wishes known in advance by pre-planning.
Pre-planning can be very informal and as simple as writing a letter to loved ones detailing such wishes. However, more formal arrangements can also be used: many people today enter into pre-need contracts with a funeral director or other pre-need professionals, which are funded through life insurance or by placing funds in trust.
In some cases, an elderly person may not have any surviving family members or close relatives to make final arrangements. By pre-planning, a person can obtain peace of mind in knowing that his or her final needs are taken care of.

Avoid Family Disputes
What happens if a person does not leave written instructions about his or her final wishes? In this case, state law dictates who is responsible for deciding how a person’s remains will be handled.
Generally, most states give this right to the following people, in order:

• spouse or domestic partner
• child or children
• parent or parents
• the next of kin
• a public administrator, appointed by a court

The person who is designated by state law to handle a deceased’s affairs has the right to decide on the burial, funeral, and other options. However, conflicts may arise if two or more people are responsible for making these decisions. Quite often, family dynamics are at their strongest in these circumstances, and sibling rivalry and past hurts may resurface and play out again among family members. For example, two children may disagree regarding whether a parent should be buried or cremated. In the case of blended families, disputes may be even more likely to arise among family members. Unfortunately, when family members cannot agree on funeral arrangements, the matter often ends up being decided in probate court. Again, these disputes can be avoided if a person takes time to pre-plan and put his or her wishes in writing.

Reduce Emotional Burden on Survivors
When a loved one dies, surviving family and friends are often in a state of shock. Grief, confusion, emotional upheaval, and, occasionally, irrationality are common emotions during the days following a loved one’s death. Under these circumstances, it can be extremely difficult for survivors to make decisions about a person’s final arrangements, often leading to unnecessary guesswork and worry about what the deceased would have wanted. In addition, a number of important decisions must be made fairly quickly. Specifically, family members or friends must
• decide whether burial, cremation, or donation of the body to science is desired;
• choose a funeral provider and cemetery;
• select a casket and burial vault, if needed;
• decide on an open or closed casket;
• make arrangements for a memorial service;
• choose pallbearers and a religious leader to oversee the funeral;
• select clothing and jewelry;
• make arrangements for music and flowers;
• write an obituary and notify newspapers; and
• decide how much money to spend on the service.

In addition to making decisions about the funeral, many people and organizations must be contacted, often as quickly as possible, after a family member or friend’s death. These include:
• relatives and friends
• a minister, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader
• the deceased’s employer
• local newspapers
• insurance agents
• Social Security Administration
• Veterans Administration
• religious, fraternal, and civic organizations and unions
• attorney, accountant, and financial planner
• credit card companies

As you can see, surviving family members are confronted with a myriad of decisions and tasks during the period immediately following a loved one’s death. Survivors may feel a great sense of comfort and peace in knowing that they have faithfully carried out a person’s last wishes, when those wishes have been made known in advance.

Reduce Financial Burden on Survivors
Many people pre-pay because funerals are expensive, costing around $6,500 on average. However, this figure does not include cemetery costs, flowers, limousines, acknowledgment cards, catering services, and more, which can easily push the cost well beyond $10,000. Many people consequently set aside funds in advance to avoid placing this financial burden on loved ones. For many individuals, paying for a funeral may be one of the most expensive single purchases they ever make, ranking only behind the purchase of a home and car. Unlike buying these items, however, most funeral purchases are made when buyers are emotionally vulnerable and lack the time, will, and information to compare and negotiate prices. By comparison shopping in advance, a person can choose exactly which goods and services he or she wants—and doesn’t want.

Lock In Current Prices
Another advantage to pre-planning and pre-paying a funeral is that a person can sometimes lock in the current price of funeral services. Some funeral homes, for example, may offer guaranteed price contracts. This means that even if the cost to provide services or goods increases between the contract date and the date of death, the funeral home will provide the goods and services selected for the amount of money stated in the contract. The surviving family or estate will not be required to pay extra for the guaranteed items. If a contract does not guarantee the prices of the goods and services selected, the final cost of the funeral will be determined when the services and merchandise are provided. Amounts that have been pre-paid will be applied toward the ultimate cost of the funeral, and the surviving family or estate must pay the difference.
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