Pre Planning Your Final Arrangements

The greatest gift you can leave your family.

The holiday season has just passed and many of us shared in the season of gifts and giving. It was a time of family, life and reflection. Many memories were shared with one another and many new memories were made. Gifts are given in love to those we care most about, and we usually accepted the gifts as a token of that love we share. Planing for your final arrangements are not always thought of as a gift, but what greater gift can you leave with your family than the peace of knowing everything is taken care of when you pass away?

Soon after I began my career in funeral service I decided to talk to my parents about their final wishes. It was at that moment I realized, this is not an easy thing to do. They were both reluctant to talk about death at all and it shocked me. My thought was, we are all going to die, let’s talk about what to do when that happens. For me it was normal, but for most it is a forbidden subject. Finally, I got enough out of my parents that I knew what I would do when either one of them passed away. While pre-planning may seem difficult at the time, knowing ahead what you will do when your loved one dies will take an immense burden off the family at the time of death, and is truly the greatest gift you can leave your family.

What is pre-planning? Also known as preneed, it is simply planning for one’s final arrangements prior to death. When a death occurs going to the funeral home to make funeral arrangements and select a casket or urn is one of the hardest thing to do. To do this in advance is a tremendous benefit to the entire family. At the time of death a family (no matter how prepared or unprepared) goes into a state of shock. Instantly their minds become separated from normal life. For the next several day decisions will be made that are irreversible. This process can be made easier by planning ahead, and it takes the burden off of the survivors. Never once has a family said, “I wish our loved one would have never pre-planned their funeral arrangements.” In fact, families are often relieved when they realize they don’t have to come to the funeral home because mom or dad took care of everything years ago.

We encourage everyone, regardless of age or health, to pre-plan his or her final arrangements. Pre-arranging is very relaxed and can be done either at the funeral home, in the comfort of ones home, or even online. Pre-arranging is also personalized to meet the needs of everyone. There are several types of pre-arranging:

Pre-arrange only

To pre-arrange a funeral one would discuss with the funeral director his or her wishes regarding their final arrangements. This could and should include discussing type and location of service, pre-selection of the casket,vault or urn, and any other special requests there might be. Remember, in pre-arranging, you can do as much or as little as you want. In pre-arranging, it is not necessary to pre-pay at all. Most people who pre-arrange have the means to pay for their service at the time of death.

Pre-arrange and Pre-fund

This is the same as pre-arranging except the person makes financial arrangements as well. To pre-arrange the financial end of a pre-arrangement it is possible to lock in todays funeral prices for the future. This is usually done with insurance funded policies that are set up at the time of the pre-arrangement. A single pay policy would mean that the total funeral is selected and paid in one payment. The monies are put into a single premium insurance policy and the policy grows each year to keep up with our price increases and is guaranteed to pay for the funeral at the time of death. Another option is a monthly pay policy where the total funeral cost is set up on a monthly payment that is affordable to the one arranging, and is generally paid over a number of years. This type of service is also designed to pay for the total funeral at the time of death.

Pre-Fund only

This is for the person who wants to leave the final arrangements to their survivors, but provides the financial means to pay for the services selected. Simply put, one can write a check for a certain amount to pay or to be applied to their funeral at the time of their death. This can also be set up on a monthly pay payment plan.

Some things to remember when pre-planning are: don’t alienate your family from this process. Remember, funerals are for those left behind to grieve. You may think, all I want is the simplest thing available, while a spouse left behind may need a time of closure and the support of others. Services can be made simple and even private. Discuss these things with your family and let them be involved in the process. I have seen to many times grieving families following the wishes of the deceased and going against what they want or need, only to make the whole grieving process much more burdensome. Knowing that will open the door to discussion and ultimately making the right choices for everyone involved.

For more questions please feel free to contact Robert Nunnaley at 910.947.2224, or

Robert is vice president and general manager of Fry and Prickett Funeral Home, Inc. 

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