5 Steps to Plan a Funeral

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, and it becomes even harder if you are in charge of planning the funeral. If you haven’t yet had this responsibility, make it a priority to talk to your parents, spouse, and anyone else that you might be responsible for, ahead of time. Ask them what they would want to happen at their funeral, and be sure that you know where all the important documents are in case something bad happens.

Although this type of conversation is never easy to have, doing so now will allow you to give your loved one the funeral that they would want (or at least, as close as you can within your financial means). Sometimes deaths are predictable, and happen slowly, but often they are sudden, which can make the financial and the logistical job of planning a funeral difficult. Here are some things to think about.

1. Establish a funeral checklist

Before you worry about the budget, determine what you would like to include in the funeral (and include anyone else who deserves to have say, or plans to help pay for the funeral.) If the projected funeral costs end up being too expensive, you can cut out certain items later. However, you should come up with a preliminary list, and this will be especially critical if you are facing a sudden death, and you don’t have much time to plan for the funeral. However, if you can talk about this with your loved one ahead of time, that is ideal.

You will need to determine where the funeral should be held, the size of the funeral, if a viewing should be included, whether a reception should be included, who should officiate the service, and so on. This checklist by everplans is very helpful.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Determine the funeral budget

Sometimes people save money as they grow older, in order to help their loved ones pay for their funeral. However, this isn’t always possible. Either way, you will need to determine just how much you can actually spend on the funeral itself; as of 2013, the average cost of a funeral was $7,000 to $10,000. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the casket is often the most expensive part of the funeral; it can cost just over $2,000, or all the way up to $10,000. You can choose to rent a casket if you are going to cremate your loved one. Cremation can cost $2,000-$4,000.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. Split costs fairly

If you have siblings or other family members or friends who are willing to share the cost of the funeral, you will need to determine how to split costs. If you do have others who you are sharing the cost with, they will probably need to have input into the budget as well. Facing death is difficult enough, but trying to determine who should pay for a funeral can add a lot of stress to a family. You can’t make someone else pitch in, but you can make the process easier by determining exactly what you agree should take place at the funeral. This is one of the reasons that the funeral checklist is so important.

If you agree to each pay an equal share, you can simply split the tab once you know how much everything will cost. However, if you have a family member or friend who cannot afford to pay as much as you can, then you might want to divvy up tasks. Sometimes people want to pay for a certain part of the funeral, which can still help greatly.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Remember life insurance

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you may be able to use it to pay for the funeral costs. You will need to contact the insurance company, which is another reason that it is best to talk to anyone who might leave you in charge of their funeral ahead of time (so that you know the details). Once you file a claim, you might find that all of the funeral costs can be covered, however, if the process is slow, you may have to pay yourself or borrow money for the funeral. There are other groups that might assist with the funeral, including The United States Social Security Administration, a local funeral society, or the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. Take time to grieve

If you experience the loss of a loved one that you have seen coming for a while, you may have already started the grieving process. Still, actually losing that person to death can be extremely difficult, and it’s important to take time to grieve. When you lose someone suddenly, you might be so overwhelmed by all the necessary funeral arrangements, that you don’t get a chance to grieve. Make sure that the funeral includes moments that would be special to your loved one, and that also allow you and other family and friends to grieve, but also celebrate, the person’s life. Also, if you find that you are in charge of too much, make sure to ask for help. Once you plow through the logistics of planning the funeral, you may find that it helps to have other people there to help make sure it goes smoothly, and to greet guests, make food, and so on.

Funerals can be a lot of work to plan, and they are often a sad time. However, with careful planning, a funeral can be a time to grieve, but also to celebrate the life, of a person that has made a deep impression on you.

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