… Well, because no one has invented immortality yet and as much as we don’t want to think about it, all life comes to an end. The real question is – what mess are you going to leave your loved ones after you are gone?
We plan for all the major events in our lifetime (education, marriage, children, retirement, etc.) but we find it too taboo to discuss death. Death may be one of the most important events to plan for because it not only affects yourself, but all those that are close to you.
While working at a non-profit cemetery as a Family Service Counselor, I have assisted hundreds of families pre-plan their end-of-life needs and I also assisted families when an unexpected death occurred and there were no plans previously in place. I can’t begin to describe the range of emotions I’ve seen people work through while trying to make funeral and cemetery arrangements. I also can’t tell you how many people “thought” there was a plan in place and then they were hit with the harsh reality of planning a funeral at the most difficult time of their life. Another common response from an unplanned funeral were when family members of the deceased came back after the burial and were not happy with the arrangements they made because it was all rushed during a time that the family was in a numb state of grief and not thinking clearly.
There are ways to solidify your estate and end-of-life wishes through Advanced Planning. It is fine if you really don’t know where you want to be interred, or if you even want to be interred, but it is something you at least need to think about. The next best thing is to discuss it with loved ones close to you. When and if you are ready to solidify your end-of –life needs start meeting with the correct people.
– You can discuss and finalize cemetery arrangements with the cemetery of your choice.
– You can discuss and finalize funeral arrangements with the funeral home of your choice.
– You can discuss and finalize your estate with a lawyer.
End-of-life expenses are only going to keep increasing over the years. I’ve seen graves that were purchased in the past by Grandma and Grandpa for $40, when the rate of a grave during my time at the cemetery was around $2,000. Saving money is one good reason for advanced planning.
Making sure the family is buried together is another reason to advance plan end-of-life needs. Cemetery space is going to fill up. If you laid your father to rest, for example, you should really look into purchasing the grave next to your father so that your mother can be laid to rest next to him when the time comes. If there are kids, perhaps you want to get additional graves. Down the road, you know that there are available spaces next to dad that your family owns and can use when needed.
“But we live ____ miles away from dad’s cemetery and we’re not sure where we want to be buried.” That is fine, but at least you know that you have the option of burial near your father. Another fact that many people don’t know is that an unused grave can be donated, sold back to the cemetery, or sold to a third party. Now this doesn’t apply to all cemeteries, you would have to check the cemetery paperwork to verify, but it’s not unheard of to know someone that is trying to sell a grave they no longer have a use for.
There are free advanced planning packets all over the internet that can walk you through the advanced planning process. There are also all kinds of financing available for end-of-life needs. If money is the only reason keeping you from advanced planning, then at the very least research the options available to you so that you are better prepared when you are ready.