Funerals in the COVID Age, Part II
Expert tips and practical considerations for navigating this difficult time
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, raised our collective levels of anxiety and made us all more keenly aware of our own mortality.
This has sent us to lawyers and estate planners, in record numbers, to make or update wills and estate plans. A well thought out estate plan is essential to protect you and your loved ones when you die. In addition to drafting a will, a good estate planner can help with setting up such essentials as:
- Making your wishes known to those left behind, including designating a personal representative and giving that person a copy of your will and the location of the original will
- Designating a medical and financial power of attorney
- Implementing a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will
- Making sure your representative has all important account information or telephone numbers for retirement plans, insurance policies, investments, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, properties, preferred law and accountant firms and mortuaries.
- Making sure to remind your personal representative to call the Social Security Administration and other relevant state and federal agencies, and to take care of recurring expenses
However, while many in this COVID age have been conscientious about engaging estate planners and updating wills, too many of us pay too little attention to another item that deserves our full attention: funeral pre-planning.
The topic of death is beset by taboos, and as Americans we tend to be very uncomfortable discussing it. So too often we simply avoid it. But by avoiding our own funeral planning we put a heavy burden on our loved ones.
When you have lost someone you love your days can be an emotional, grief-filled fog, and having to deal with the cost and the multiple decisions associated with planning a funeral can add considerable stress.
Pre-planning can take some of the stress and financial anxiety off of your family after your death and ensure you receive the kind of memorial event you want (Part II of this article will lay out in detail the value – practical, financial, and emotional – of pre-planning a funeral).
Planning a funeral doesn’t have to be daunting and there are simple steps you can take to get started:
The first of these is to meet with a trusted funeral director who can explain all your options.
Many funeral homes will offer a variety of funeral plans and can create a contract with you that lays out your chosen services and merchandise. The funds are held by a third party, an insurance company, to make sure they are safe. You can choose to pay all at once or over time, depending on what is best for you, and if you move away, the funds go with you.
Funding a plan can be a sound financial decision since it is estimated that, driven by inflation, the cost of a burial or cremation typically doubles every 7-10 years.
Further factors to consider in pre-planning a funeral
Create a list of family and friends to be notified in case of a medical emergency or death
- Write an obituary or record information you would like included in an obituary
- Gather photos, video, audio recordings and memorabilia to permanently preserve in an online memorial
- Decide where the funeral notice, obituary and memorial information should appear
- Select where would you like to be buried
- Find out the requirements of that cemetery, including the need for a vault (concrete liner)
- Choose level and type of religious observance
- Select a venue, such as a chapel, synagogue or graveside service
- Choose a celebrant or officiant
- Select pallbearers
- Designate a charity for contributions in your memory
- Select speakers or specific readings you would like to have
Jamie Sarche is Director of Pre-Planning for Feldman Memorial. Feldman Memorial is part of Feldman Mortuary, one of Denver’s oldest and most respected funeral homes. Jamie’s calling is helping people be less afraid of death. By providing their loved ones with a planned and funded funeral or memorial service, Jamie helps create a path for bereavement, long before it’s a need. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-322-7764.