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Funeral Planning

Certainly not at the top of most party conversational topics, yet planning for someone's (even your own) funeral is a certainty – as they say, "The only two things that are absolutes are death and taxes."

Many of us, unfortunately, have lived to see the death of one or both parents, a few friends, and maybe even a brother or sister. Sad as it may be to have someone pass away, it is not only inevitable, but it also can be very stressful for numerous reasons. One of the major reasons is how to best handle the funeral arrangements.

So, with that in mind, and the fact that we aren't getting any younger, let's take a look at the funeral planning process…

Lauren Searon, in her article for Retirement Living (www.retirement-living.com/how-to-pre-plan-a-funeral) notes that "every year two million Americans are tasked with planning a funeral for a family member or friend." The stress alone of having someone close to you die can easily be overwhelming … add to that the mess of post planning for a funeral and the task can be down-right devastating; especially when there are multiple family members pulling you in many different directions.

Below are some tips and ideas for best handling the inevitable death of a loved one (as presented by Lauren Searon, and from an article entitled Planning a Funeral, presented in Seniors Information Service, at www.seniorsinfo.nsw.gov.au):

•Preplanning a funeral allows the wishes of your loved one to be clear and more likely to be carried out, despite what other family members may want.
•Consider the funeral process as not only a time to grieve and remember, but as a celebration of the life of the deceased.
•Will the funeral be a traditional funeral (at least by many standards) with a service and a graveside event, or possibly a cremation, and with what type, if any, of service?
•How much money is to be spent?
•The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule allows consumers to purchase "individual goods and services." And, these goods and services must be price itemized. For more info on this particular aspect of funeral planning, The Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program (FSCAP) contact number is: 1-800-228-6332.
•Will you use a full-service funeral planner or do most of the planning yourself (and with the help of other family and friends)?
•Which funeral provider will you use? Price, services offered, reputation, proximity, etc., all go into this decision, as well as the thoughts of your loved one, who very well may have his/her own strong opinions about the place to handle his/her funeral.
•Should the funeral be pre-paid? Current pricing is generally guaranteed by pre-planning, which is not the case if paid at the time service is provided. The purchase of a "funeral bond" may be an option, where the proceeds of the bond are paid only at the time of the death.

As we all know, planning is always the key to a smooth operation of any event. Even when we cannot control all aspects of the event, planning helps eliminate most problems.

Planning a funeral, in many ways, is no different than planning your life, or a move, or switching careers – planning makes it easier and the operations smoother, giving those involved more freedom to participate in the actual event without the unnecessary stress of planning at the last moment.

Death is part of life and the more proactive you are concerning the planning of your own funeral, as well as the planning of any loved ones close to you (if that is appropriate), the easier it is to enjoy the living part of life.

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