Just as we sit down to plan our finances, retirement or a vacation, preplanning your own funeral helps eliminate both financial and emotional burden put upon your surviving loved ones.
A survey by the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) found that nearly 63% of consumers felt that preplanning was important, but less than a quarter have actually taken action and planned with a professional.
So what’s holding us back?
To better understand preplanning, we sat down with Julie Skinner, a Busch funeral director, embalmer and preplanning advisor to learn firsthand the benefits of preplanning. Continue reading to learn why Julie encourages individuals or families to preplan sooner than later, and how you can take the next step to document your final wishes.
“As a funeral director, I often meet with families and quickly realize that they have never had a meaningful conversation about their funeral wishes. This lack of planning forces survivors to make decisions of necessity rather than decisions of choice.”
Q: What inspired you to become a funeral director and help others preplan their final wishes?
We exert a great deal of energy in effort to protect our loved ones from the possible misfortunes of life. We protect our property with insurance in case something unfortunate happens. Just as often, we exert a great deal of energy trying to avoid or ignore those things in life that are certain. In my career, I’ve come to understand that like taxes, death is certain.
As a funeral director, I often meet with families and quickly realize that they have never had a meaningful conversation about their funeral wishes. This lack of planning forces survivors to make decisions of necessity rather than decisions of choice.
Unfortunately, many times planning final arrangements following a death is intensified if survivors don’t have a great working relationship. Or, survivors may have a hard time making decisions if they’re emotionally or financially unstable.
Q: What do you wish people knew about preplanning?
That it’s easier than they realize, and how at peace people feel knowing it’s handled. As a funeral director, I’ve also seen the other side, when someone passes. It’s such a relief to the families to be able to grieve and not be burdened by details. The difference is remarkable.
I would challenge them to have a meaningful conversation about their wishes with their loved ones, and to discuss funeral planning options with a professional. Planning ahead, before a difficult day, provides many valuable benefits, including:
- Allows for many urgent tasks and decisions to be handled before a time of emotional upheaval.
- Eliminates doubts for survivors about funeral preferences and disputes about expenses.
- Provides peace of mind that wishes are expressed.
- Ensures that funeral expenses have been addressed.
- Allows for necessary legal documents to be gathering and filed with a funeral professional.
“I believe the hardest part of this process is making the call to talk to a professional. It takes a great deal of energy to avoid something and often, people find out it is easier than they imagined.”
Q: Once ready, what’s the first step you’d recommend to someone to start preplanning final arrangements?
I would encourage you to have a meaningful conversation with a funeral professional to record your personal information, funeral preferences and plans related to funeral expenses. Many people are unaware that they can make plans, record their wishes and learn about the many funding options that are available.
I believe the hardest part of this process is making the call to talk to a professional. It takes a great deal of energy to avoid something and often, people find out it is easier than they imagined.
The most common comments I hear at the end of a planning session include, “That was so much easier that I imagined,” “I didn’t realize that I would laugh as much as we did today,” “I had no idea that I could make payments on my funeral,” and “I feel so much better knowing that that this will be easier for my children.”
Q: Where can someone find more information about the benefits and process of preplanning?
Schedule a preplanning consultation with a funeral director. Or, if you want more information before scheduling a consultation, Busch offers a complimentary guide, Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements, that goes into more detail on the preplanning process.
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