Nobody likes to think about death and dying — especially when it’s about yourself. But, let’s face it, unless the rapture comes in your lifetime, you will eventually breathe your last.
Being in the death industry as a funeral director/embalmer and pre-need counselor for over 16 years, I truly believe that planning your arrangements in advance is one of the very best gifts you can give your loved ones.
Pre-planning will take a burden off of you and the ones you are leaving behind.
But what is the best age to start planning for your far-off future needs? Death is a hard thing to think about whether you are healthy or have just been given a bad report from your doctor. There is no time like the present. So, let’s get planning.
Related: Funeral Planning Checklist
Funeral Planning in Your 20s and 30s
Being young usually doesn’t prompt you to plan for your own funeral. After all, life has really just begun for you. Remember, the younger you are when you begin planning your funeral service, the more money you will save over time. Imagine planning in your 20s or 30s and not using the policy for 50 plus years!
You can purchase a funeral package today that might total $7,600 to $12,000 (the average cost of a funeral in 2022) and be worth many times that by the time you use it.
Buying a cemetery plot or a mausoleum space is also a good idea. They are both considered real-estate and should build in value. You can buy and sell just like you would any other property.
Any way you look at it, it’s a good investment —both for you and your future family.
Funeral Planning in Your 40s and 50s
More and more are people starting to plan once they hit their 40s. By this time, you have probably settled into your career and family life. You may have more disposable income as well.
But the individuals that have hit their 50s are the biggest funeral pre-planners in America. This is the age group that will experience the loss of their parents more often than any other age group. That gets them thinking about their own death.
It also lets them know that dying is expensive and can also be complicated. This is a huge nudge in the direction of making their own plans. They don’t want to leave this burden to their loved ones.
Making decisions at the time of a loved one’s death can be a struggle. All the emotions that come into play can make this a very stressful time. Making these decisions during a “non-emotional” time makes it a bit easier – it gives a person a while to think things through.
At the time of death, you might have to make a snap decision. Often enough, those snap decisions are ones that a person will regret.
Maybe you feel you’ve spent too much, or not enough. Maybe you said, “No” to an item when you really meant, “Yes.” Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to take your time in making certain choices or decisions.
Related: How to Plan a Cheap Funeral
Funeral Planning in Your 60s and 70s
It is never too late to begin planning your funeral. Once you hit retirement age, it would be a good idea to set those funds aside. The older you get, the harder it may be to free up those extra dollars, as people usually are on a fixed income by this point in their lives. The longer you wait to plan, the higher the costs will be.
When you pay the funeral home for a pre-planned funeral, their pricing on goods and services is locked in. Guaranteed never to change.
Always keep in mind, life insurance, which is what a pre-need policy is, has a contestability clause. If you die before you own the policy for 2 years, the insurance company will contest the benefit payout.
What I am saying is, if you are diagnosed with a terminal disease, you won’t be able to pay monthly installments on a pre-need plan. You would have to pay it all upfront.
If you don’t have the funds to pay for a service, you can still plan what you would like to have done. Talk with your family about your financial situation. Don’t let them be surprised at the time of your death. I have seen this happen way too many times. Someone thinks their mom or dad had everything taken care of, and they don’t.
That’s a heavy financial burden to put on your family. Please, don’t do that to anyone. If that is the case, let them know. Tell them you will be fine with a simple cremation. You can speak with a low-cost cremation company or cremation society. They are the companies that provide a no- frills, affordable cremation.
Most larger communities will have this service to offer.
Resources for Planning Your Funeral
The funeral industry usually has a price hike every year to year and a half — with the average increase being around 3.61% each time. They like to be in the same price range with every other funeral home in the area. Not too much lower, but not too much higher either.
Too high, and you’ll lose families, but too low will do the same thing. The question being, “Why is ABC Funeral Home priced so much lower than XYZ Funeral Home?” It just leads people to believe that ABC Funeral Home is not as good as the others.
Resources exist to help you plan your future funeral or memorial service. The best resource is your funeral home of choice. Do a web search for “pre-planning or pre-funding a funeral,” “funeral homes in my area,” or “funeral homes near me.” You will probably be surprised at how many results come up.
Funeral homes have trained professionals that can help you put your affairs in order. A reputable funeral director/pre-need counselor will listen and guide you the best they can. Let the professionals know your wishes and the amount of money you want to spend.
How Much Should I Spend?
Never spend more than you want to. There are some items you “must” have to conform to the laws, and then there are the items that you “want.”
When it comes to the “wanted” items, you may have to compromise. You may need to purchase a less expensive urn, casket, or even burial vault. But trust me when I tell you, the lesser expensive products can also get the job done.
Planning a funeral should not put you in financial hardship. Don’t go into debt over a funeral service. Not for yourself or someone else.
There are many options that can help lessen the costs of a funeral. For instance, you might even change your mind from a traditional service to a simple cremation — saving thousands of dollars!
Another option might be to start a crowdfunding campaign. Here’s a free memorial website that allows you to pay tribute to your loved one and also collect funeral donations.
It also doesn’t hurt to shop around. Get at least three estimates, just like you would do for any other pricey item you would be purchasing. Take your time comparing the prices of the merchandise and services each funeral home has to offer.
If one place is priced way higher than another, find out what they do that might be different from the other places you’ve contacted. You may not be planning funeral arrangements for yourself at this time, but at some point or another, death will come calling.
Now you have the knowledge to arm yourself or anyone else who may need this information.
Read Next: How to Choose a Funeral Home