Pre-Planning Your Funeral: A Guide

~by Lucille Rosetti


Planning for the end of your life while you’re still here is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. Unburdened by concerns over money and end-of-life decisions, your family can focus on grieving and healing during a difficult time. Thinking ahead also allows you to make informed decisions about funeral planning and costs.

This article will guide you through the considerations you’ll face while planning your funeral.

End-of-Life Arrangements

Before you pass, there will be important decisions to make about the end of your life. By discussing end-of-life care and outlining your wishes now, you spare your family the pain of making health care decisions on your behalf and wondering if they’ve made the right choice.

Advance directives are legal documents that detail end-of-life wishes. Your advance directives should include a living will that spells out your health care preferences for the end of your life. You’ll also need to name a medical power of attorney who will make medical decisions if you’re unable to. While your living will should answer the big questions, you’ll still need someone to advocate for your wishes. It’s also prudent to appoint a Social Security representative who can handle matters related to Social Security if you’re unable to.

Type of Service

Decide what type of funeral service you prefer and which events you’d like to include in end-of-life celebrations. You might choose to have a funeral service at a place of worship, at your graveside, or both. Alternatively, you may choose to forgo the funeral service and opt for a memorial service instead. You may also choose to include a viewing, wake or reception in the events. For many people, religious traditions influence their choice of service.

Keep in mind that the more elaborate your service, the more you can expect to pay. A funeral with a viewing and burial costs just over $7,000 on average, according to Funeral Basics, but that price doesn’t account for vaults, headstones, flowers, or additional funeral events. If cost is a concern, opting for direct cremation or burial and hosting a memorial service afterward is a more affordable option. 

Burial Wishes

In addition to designating a service type, write down any additional wishes for your funeral. This may include details such as whether you want an open- or closed-casket service, the clothing you wish to be buried in and who will say the eulogy. Nolo lists additional details to include.

Financial Arrangements

Once you know what type of service you want at the end of your life, it’s time to think about how you’ll pay for it. There are several ways to pay for a funeral in advance, such as:

  • A life insurance policy with a death benefit.
  • A prepaid funeral plan through your chosen funeral home.
  • A Totten trust, also known as a payable-on-death bank account.
  • A joint bank account shared with a trusted beneficiary.
  • Determine whether you intend to have an estate sale.

Learn more about each option, including the pros and cons, at

If making arrangements directly with a funeral home, be mindful of shady practices designed to increase your cost. Remember, you can always shop around and compare prices to find a funeral home that suits your wishes and your budget.

Planning a funeral while you’re still alive may seem morbid. But in truth, it’s one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and the ones you love. By handling these important matters while you’re still here, you get the send-off you want and your family gets time and space to grieve their loss.

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