People first began to plan ahead for funeral or cremation needs in significant numbers back in the mid-to-late 1970’s. What was most common at that time was for someone to go with the funeral director to a local bank and set-up a trust account. The problem with this was the tax implications on the growth of the money (it’s designed to keep pace with inflation) as well as easily being able to transfer the arrangements if moving. By the mid-80’s funeral homes recognized the superiority of an insurance-funded funeral trust which eliminated any tax implications and also made transferability quite simple.
The concept of making cremation or funeral plans in advance is today widely recognized as something everyone should do something about, even if it’s just making decisions so your family doesn’t have to.
You see the purpose of planning ahead is to make the time of your death, at least as much as possible, easier on your loved ones. This requires you to address three basic areas:
- Providing information to the funeral home of your choice.
- Making as many decisions as possible.
- Determining how your funeral (or cremation) expenses will be funded.
At the time of a death every funeral director needs information such as:
- A legal name, address, birth date, birth place, Social Security #, marital status, military record, occupation, education level, fathers name, mother’s maiden name, etc.
- Additional details you may want included in the newspaper. It’s becoming more and more common for someone to write their own obituary.
- Separation papers (In many cases referred to as a DD214) will be required in order to receive any eligible VA benefits.
There are typically 8 major decisions that must be made and paid for prior to a service:
- Method of disposition. Do you want traditional or cremation?
- What cemetery would you like to go to?
- There are different types of cemetery property–above ground in a mausoleum (some cemeteries offer both inside and outside arrangements), ground burial, lawn crypts, columbarium (various niche options include inside and outside arrangements, granite, marble, or bronze fronts, memorial benches, birdbaths, and a few others.)
- Most cemeteries require you to purchase a Vault. Few people understand that a vault is a cemetery requirement for maintenance. A vault maintains the integrity of the burial site because if you dumped 2 tons of earth on top of a casket it would crush it, the grave would sink, and require continual backfilling. There are 2 types of vaults, protective and non-protective. One is designed to keep out the elements of the earth and the other isn’t.
- What type of headstone, memorial, or marker would you like to have? You’ll find the options are numerous and include various features like ones that are flush to the ground with bronze on granite or granite only. Do you think you would want an upright monument instead? If so, what color and what size?
- There are literally hundreds of choices when it comes to caskets – metal (protective or non-protective) or wood? They even make bio-degradable wicker caskets for those who are so inclined! Many people are choosing personalized caskets and urns so you’re only limited by your imagination.
- Where and how will the services take place? Do you want traditional funeral or a traditional funeral followed by cremation? Would this take place over 2 days with a day of visitation followed the next day by the funeral service? Would you like to have the visitation and service take place the same day as more people seem to be doing? If cremation, do you want to forego the closure that many people feel is emotionally beneficial and have a memorial service? If you do this keep in mind that a private viewing is still possible for the immediate family (with no embalming this must happen quickly for obvious reasons). Would your cremated remains be present at the service? If so, you would need to purchase an urn. Would this be done through the funeral home or provided by the family?
- Lastly, how much money should be spent on all of this and who will be responsible for taking care of the financial obligation with the funeral provider?
I’m going to break this blog into 2 parts and continue the description of the craziness many people face when these issues are put-off to the last minute and families are scrambling to figure out what to do. My sincere encouragement is for everyone to give this matter the seriousness it deserves and protect your family by getting your affairs in order (read 2 Kings 20:1).
Lest anyone think that we feel we’re superior or better than other Fort Wayne area funeral homes, I assure you we’re not although we are extremely passionate and know we provide our services with excellence; ours is simply a different approach which allows us to charge thousands less than our competitors. There will be some that try to run-down our firm by saying we offer “discount cremations” or “discount funerals” however we don’t offer any discounts and nothing we do could remotely be described as cheap. We recognize that a sizable percentage of the population (I believe in large part because of the current state of the economy) are really wanting a return to a more simple and straightforward way of doing business and our industry (the death-care business) is no different.
We would like to provide you more information about a low-cost, inexpensive way to take care of planning for the last event you’ll have on this earth. Northern Indiana Funeral Care of Fort Wayne has the privilege of providing Veterans Funeral Care which has an exclusive endorsement from The American Legion, Department of Indiana. This is a program that all veterans in Northeast Indiana should take advantage of or at least tell their friends about. If would like to learn more about advance planning with Northern Indiana Funeral Care call us toll-free at 1-877-328-2756 or visit www.NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com.