There are three times when cemetery, burial, funeral and memorial decisions made be made.

Final arrangement plan for cemetery, burial and funeral arrangements may be made:

  • In advance of the need, when pre-planning for the future
  • When facing an illness, when planning for an imminent need
  • After a death, at-need planning

The best decision for What to Plan For? and How to Plan? are highly personal and depend on the individual’s life circumstances, wishes, financial condition, religious preferences, amongst other factors.

The best decision for When to Plan? is nearly always, now.

Planning is a sequential process of:

  • Step 1: Learning about for cemetery, burial, memorial, and funeral goods and services
  • Step 2: Making decisions about these final arrangements
  • Step 3: Putting plans in place

The full set of final arrangements involve over 100+ separate decisions to be made. Each decision has a financial and emotional impact of the next-of-kin, family and community of mourners. When pre-planning, before a passing, individuals can make the majority of these decisions in a calm and controlled manner without any time pressure or unnecessary stress. Pre-planning allows for an individual to make their wishes know for the next-of-kin to follow, lock-in lower costs, avoid overspending, and budget in a manageable way.

Pre-planning now also allows the costs and benefits of different Cemeteries and Funeral Homes to be compared so that the best services may be secured at the lowest possible costs.

Pre-planning now may allow current prices to be frozen at their current rates which avoids inflation and future cost increases. Many cemeteries offer pre-planning arrangements that allow for monthly payments to be made over time with low, or in some cases even 0%, interest. Many funeral homes offer pre-need funeral arrangements that will lock-in and guarantee the costs of professional services, casket and burial vault. Funeral pre-arrangements may be made using either specialized insurance contracts or a pre-need trust.

Not all cemeteries, funeral homes and memorial providers are set-up to allow for direct pre-planning. Being able to manage and grow pre-paid funds over time in a low-risk and financially prudent manner is beyond the capabilities of many small firms. If a cemetery, funeral home or memorial provider does not offer a protected and low-cost pre-planning option, an alternative method of pre-paying for final arrangements is through an independent final expense insurance policy. Independent final expense insurance is a special type of life insurance designed to cover the cost of the cemetery, funeral, and permanent memorialization. An independent final expense insurance policy may offer lower monthly costs (depending on the proposed insured's age at time of application). The main drawback for independent final expense insurance is that because the policy is not issued directly by the cemetery, funeral home or memorial provider, it does not freeze or guarantee the future cost of goods and services.

Essential / Minimal Pre-Planning should, at an absolute minimum, include the selection of the cemetery and funeral home. Following a death, the next-of-kin must immediately inform the medical staff or medical examiner which funeral home is to be contact to transport the individual. This decision is so critical that many care facilities and hospice organizations require that the funeral home is selected prior to an individual’s initial admission. The selection of the funeral home is largely dependent of the selection of the cemetery. The cemetery selected will determine the appropriate location of the funeral home and the type of goods and services that the funeral home must offer. Therefore, the selection of the cemetery should proceed the selection of the funeral home.

Pre-planning decisions can be made without pre-need purchases being made. In this case pre-planning should result in a clear, well-documented record of an individual’s wishes and the selection of cemetery and funeral home providers.

View our Cemetery Planning Checklist or Funeral Planning Checklist

Full Pre-Planning may involve:

  • The selection of the cemetery
    • A choice of a specific burial site
    • The pre-payment of cemetery committal or entombment services
    • Arrangement for cemetery perpetual care and maintenance
  • Selection of a memorial, marker or headstone
    • The pre-payment for the memorial
  • Funeral service arrangements including the casket, vault, and funeral service type

How to Pre-Plan

Using the pre-planning checklist, begin by first identifying the most appropriate cemetery, and then the funeral home that will best be able to best serve the individuals wants and needs and the cemetery’s requirements. Once the service providers have been selected, a budget can be established and planning directly with the cemetery / funeral home can be weighed against planning through an independent insurance policy.