Planning Your Own Funeral

Preplanning your funeralWho knew that by expressing your preferences or actually making the formal arrangements yourself you’d be giving such a great gift to your family and friends.

It’s not uncommon for an estate planning attorney to get a phone call from a personal representative of the estate of a recently departed, asking if the attorney has any documentation about the decedent’s wishes for a memorial service. Unless some sound planning took place, chances are there are no instructions.

If your wishes are documented, it can help eliminate your family’s stress during a highly emotional time. A 2017 study by the National Funeral Directors Association found that while 66% of Americans believe that pre-planning is important, only 21.4% had actually completed the exercise.

Pre-planning does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a written statement of your desires or a legal Funeral Planning Declaration.

There are several reasons why pre-planning makes good sense. Let’s take a look at them:

Decreasing stress. Pre-planning can eliminate some of the stress on family or friends. It also can avoid emotionally charged conflicts right after your passing. Spend some time now to make your preferences known or make the actual arrangements.

Avoid spending excessively. If you pre-plan, you can select appropriately. Your family may not consider the cost as they decide right after your passing—a time when they can barely think. Some may mistakenly feel the amount spent shows the amount of respect and love they have for you. Either way, it often means overspending.

Specify detailed instructions. You can provide some peace to your family by knowing that your final wishes will be carried out. You might consider things like burial or cremation, your attire, the location, service participants, music, readings, flowers, and photographs. Some feel that this level of detail is unnecessary, but if you don’t specify your wishes, someone else will make these decisions.

Reimbursement of family expenses. If you want to reimburse long-distance family members and friends for their travel, you can add that into your pre-planning documentation. Talk to your attorney about including this provision in your will.

You should also think about how you’ll pay for your funeral expenses. Perhaps you can designate funds in your savings or investment account or use life insurance proceeds. By pre-paying, you can lock-in today's funeral prices but be sure your funds are safe. Ask if the salesperson is an agent of your funeral home and how and where your money will be held.

Once you decide on the details of your pre-planning, share the details with your family. Pre-planning your funeral is an act of kindness for your family and friends. It’s also a chance to express your personal desires and to potentially avoid issues that can arise after your death.

Reference: Inside Indiana Business (January 15, 2018) “The Gift of Pre-Planning a Funeral”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.