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Planning Ahead for Funeral Arrangements

Creating a final arrangements document

Funeral arrangements can be hard to think about

This is a very difficult topic for many, but planning some of the details can be a great relief to your survivors. A funeral is one of the most stressful and expensive consumer purchases a family can make. Final arrangements are an important financial transaction and many times these decisions are made at a time of bereavement and duress. Decisions and choices usually made when a person is in shock, having feelings of guilt, remorse and sense of loss that can cloud our judgment. Many times the act of spending money can get confused with caring or expressions of love.

Making your own final arrangements assures that your wishes are carried out and spares your loved ones from facing decisions that can be both emotionally and financially difficult.

A final arrangements document is a very personal matter and with the diversity of cultures, customs and religious preference there will be many things this list will not address.

A basic final arrangement document might include:

  • The name of the mortuary or other institution that will handle the burial or cremation and other funeral arrangements
  • Whether or not you wish to be embalmed
  • The type of casket or container in which your remains will be buried or cremated.
  • Do you want the container to be present at any after death ceremony
  • The details of any ceremony that you want before the burial or cremation
  • Identify who will be your pallbearers, if you wish to have them
  • Where your remains will be buried, stored or your ashes scattered
  • The details of any ceremony you may want to accompany your burial, or scattering.
  • This could include music, prayers, readings and who you would like to do those readings
  • Details of the marker, should you want one, to show where you are buried or interred.

Check list for planning final arrangement:

  • Biographical information - Full name ( women will need maiden name)
  • Address
  • Resident of present state - number of years
  • Place of birth (city, county ,state/province, country)
  • Date of birth - (month, day , year)
  • Social security number
  • Occupation
  • Employed by or retired from-
  • Martial Status
  • Name of spouse
  • Name of Father
  • Father's place of birth and year
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Mother's place of birth and year
  • Education ( grade school, high school, vocational school, college)
  • Religious affiliations
  • Name of children and their addresses
  • Military service( branch and rank)
  • Date of enlistment/date of discharge
  • Fraternal groups, service groups, union memberships
  • Special recognitions
  • List of relatives and friends names and numbers to notify

Funeral arrangements

  • Funeral home to contact( name address and telephone number)
  • Name of Funeral Director
  • Location of prearrangement contract if applicable
  • Location of preferred service
  • Officiating clergy and telephone number
  • Names of Pall bearers
  • Music you want
  • Flowers you would prefer
  • Memorial Services
  • Other requests
  • Cemetery location , address and telephone number and arrangements
  • Location of deed for plot
  • Name plot can be found -the section/plot number / block number
  • Special instructions for funeral arrangements

Once you have all this information recorded, it must be put in a safe place. Please note that a safety deposit box is not an option as it will be frozen at the time of your death. Make your family and attorney aware of where this information is to be kept so that it is available when the time comes.

Benefits availability

Many families are not aware there are claims and benefits that can be applied for.

Social security- When a deceased person has worked under social security , his/her dependents may be eligible for certain benefits such as death payment, survivor benefits, and Medicare benefits. These payments are not given automatically, and must be applied for through your local Social Security Office.

Veteran's Benefits- The families of honorably discharged veterans may be entitled to a number of special benefits following a death of the veteran. This may include plot allowance, burial allowance, headstone, death pension, and burial flag. Contact the Veteran's Administration for more information on funeral arrangements.

Where do I look for help in making final arrangements?

Choosing the institution that will handle your burial services is probably the most important decision you can make from and economic standpoint. There are several avenues you can explore. There are funeral or memorial societies that by joining they will help you find local mortuaries that will assist you and your survivors and assure that you are charged a reasonable price. Many societies serve as watchdogs for the industry and will make sure that you get and pay only for the services you chose.

Each society is different, but you will be able to choose the final arrangements you want. Each society will distribute information regarding options and explain the legal rules that apply to the final arrangements. If you would like more information you can look up Funeral and Advisory Services in the yellow pages in your area.

If you do not want to join a society, you can look for a mortuary or funeral home on your own. Shop around to find the facility that best meets your needs to handle funeral arrangements .

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