“Planning” is one of those words that can bring a variety of responses depending on what it is paired with as well as the personality of the person hearing it. I like the word planning and even get excited about it when it is connected to birthday party, anniversary celebration, wedding, and vacation. But…..when the word is paired with “funeral,” the feelings are far different for most people.
Elaine Sanchez recently posted an article about her first-hand experience pre-planning a funeral with her “quirky” aunt. She ended the article with an expression of gratitude that while “making plans for incapacity and death isn’t fun,… I believe it’s one of the most generous gifts a person can give his/her family.”
I recently sat down with Crystal Treanor and Patricia McDonough of Wilmington Funeral and Cremation to discuss pre-planning, including the reasons it can be a generous gift to family members.
What is Pre-Planning or Pre-Arranging?
Very simply, pre-planning means making plans while someone is still alive for what will happen after their death. Pre-planning helps gather pertinent information that will be necessary for obituaries, legal filings, estate management, etc. During pre-planning, you can express your wishes regarding your funeral or cremation including such details as songs to be sung at the service and the types of flowers or monument marker you would like. Patricia McDonough, Advance Planning Funeral Director, shared that pre-planning also allows individuals and families to be educated on any relevant laws as well as products or services they may benefit from. One such product I learned about during our interview was a Travel Protection Plan. Patricia explained how a travel protection plan could benefit family members of someone who travels a great deal as it fully arranges and pays for the transportation of a body if a death occurs more than 100 miles from the person’s residence.
Does Pre-Planning Mean Paying in Advance?
Crystal clarified that pre-planning can be done without paying in advance. However, paying in advance allows you to pay current prices for the services selected. Wilmington Funeral and Cremation offers the ability to pay in full or make payments on a selected payment plan. Either way, payments are not made directly to Wilmington Funeral and Cremation itself, but to what is called “Pre-Need Funeral Insurance” offered through a mutual life insurance company or by writing an annuity if necessary.
What are the Benefits of Pre-Planning?
Crystal and Patricia focused on five main benefits of pre-planning:
- Pre-planning saves your family the time and emotional drain of coming in to make arrangements during a time of loss.
- Related to #1, pre-planning also helps to avoid issues between surviving family members that may arise when multiple people are trying to make decisions during an emotional time.
- Pre-planning protects you and your family members from emotional decision-making.
- If you choose to pay in advance, you get the costs locked in and family members do not have to worry about the cost later.
- Maybe most importantly, your family doesn’t have to guess at what you would want. Pre-planning removes the doubts loved ones may have if they are making plans when you are no longer with them. Crystal shared how much she appreciated that her own mother made pre-arrangements so that she and her siblings knew what her mother’s desires were.
Like many things that can be uncomfortable to talk about, it can be easier when the subject is brought up far ahead of the anticipated need. We expressed this in our last blog posting about talking to loved ones about what their desires are for long term care and I think it could also apply to pre-planning.
See Dorothy’s original blog post among many others concerning caring for loved ones at home at this link.
What have your experiences been with pre-planning? We would like to hear from you. Send us a message at [email protected] or call us at 910-791-9099.