Getting Your Affairs in Order

There are two universal human experiences: birth and death. While you can’t plan for or predict the type of welcome you’ll receive as you enter this world, you can choose and prepare for the send-off you’ll receive when you depart.

Why Preplan or Prearrange

When somebody passes away, they leave behind friends and family who are consumed with grief. It’s a difficult time to make decisions, especially if there are family members who don’t see eye to eye. It can also be an expensive time, especially if death benefits or insurance policies don’t become available until after a funeral or memorial has been held.

Planning ahead is about more than making your wishes known – it’s about giving your family members the gift of comfort and confidence.

3 Reasons to Plan Ahead

1. Make grieving easier for loved ones.
When you leave your loved ones written documentation of how you would like your passing to be honored, you take away their burden of having to guess what you would have wanted. While it might not seem that important to you, “getting it right” will be emotionally important to those you leave behind. Having confidence that your end-of-life celebration is something you’d approve or enjoy will bring peace of mind to your friends and family.

2. Reduce the financial burden for loved ones.
People are often surprised how much it costs to memorialize someone. You can ease your family’s financial burden by prepaying for your final arrangements at a funeral home. Funeral directors are trained professionals who can help you evaluate your options and figure out what makes sense for you. It’s smart to have this conversation sooner rather than later so you determine how much money to set aside for this purpose.

3. Feel confident that you’re prepared.
Whether you have specific preferences for your end-of-life celebration or just want to do everything you can to make things easier for your loved ones when the time comes, planning ahead can bring you both comfort and confidence. Whether you’re prepaying or just preplanning, a funeral director can guide you through the process, help you match your desires with your budget, and serve as your advisor.

What To Consider

If you’ve never thought about the funeral you would want or aren’t sure how to discuss it with others, here are a few things to think about.

How do you want your remains to be handled?

Some people have strong religious beliefs or personal preferences when it comes to the question of burial versus cremation. If you don’t feel strongly either way, consider what your family members would be most comfortable with. Do they want a place (such as a cemetery) where they can come visit you, an opportunity to scatter your ashes somewhere meaningful, or would they want to keep you close to them in an urn or nontraditional disposition? Which of your preferred options are the right fit financially for you or your loved ones?

What type of service do you want?

When you imagine your grand farewell, do you think of a traditional religious ceremony or a unique and personal tribute? A celebration that incorporates foods, activities, music or other elements to represent the life you have lived? What do you think will be most meaningful and comforting to the people you love?  Who should be present – will it be a small gathering or a large event? Would you like people to honor your memory by donating to a particular cause? Consider where you want the funeral or memorial service to happen, who should officiate, elements that should be included (readings, eulogy, shared photos or video, music), and who should attend. In addition to thinking about the service itself, decide whether you’d like to have a viewing, wake, visitation or reception.

We Can Help

Talking about death can be difficult or uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. We understand that this is one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have with your loved ones, so our members are here to make it easier. Whether you’re encouraging a loved one to make their wishes known or getting your own affairs in order, our members can help you explore all the options and answer any questions that come up. Find a New York State Funeral Directors Association member funeral home near you.

Additional Resources

Glossary of Funeral Service Terms

Funeral Directors: We're Good at Goodbyes
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