10 FAQs About Preplanning a Funeral

Feel less stressed and more informed about planning a funeral in advance

You may already know that preplanning a funeral removes the financial and emotional burden for your loved ones who are grieving and allows you to be remembered in the way you want. You may not know what to expect in the process of preplanning a funeral. Let’s explore common questions people have, so you can feel less stressed and more informed about planning a funeral in advance. 

1.  Is a funeral director necessary?

You don’t have to use a funeral director, but your grieving family members will likely appreciate handing over the responsibility of arranging your funeral details to a trained professional. If you purchase Preneed Funeral insurance to prearrange a funeral plan, you’ll work with a funeral director to design every element of — and define the budget for — the service.

How to Plan a Funeral Step-by-Step

2.  What is disposition?

Disposition refers to how a person’s final remains are handled. Popular methods are cremation and burial. Your disposition preference would be a topic of discussion for preplanning a funeral at your Preneed insurance preplanning appointment.

3.  Do you have to use the embalming process?

If you choose burial as your method of disposition, the short answer is “no,” but embalming requirements vary by state and also by funeral home. While preplanning a funeral, a funeral director can help you understand the requirements where you live and plan to be buried.

4.  Do you have to have a vault?

A burial vault is a sealed, lined metal box that encases a casket, protecting it from weather, cemetery equipment, and the earth’s weight. Like embalming, each state has different laws about whether a burial vault is required, and each funeral home will also have its own guidelines for disposition.

5.  What’s the difference between a viewing and a visitation?

Viewings and visitations are both forms of paying final respects to someone who has passed. A viewing takes place immediately before the burial at a set time and allows loved ones to see the deceased one last time. A visitation refers to a window of time, usually a few days before the funeral, when family and friends can gather. Visitations can involve either an open or closed casket.

6.  What is endowment care?

Endowment care is the maintenance of cemetery grounds and facilities, and usually a fee for this service is required with burial. 

7.  Is an advance directive the same as advance funeral planning?

An advance directive, or healthcare directive, is a legal document that lays out your healthcare wishes should you become incapacitated or unable to communicate them. An advance directive is also referred to as a living will. Meanwhile, advance funeral planning refers to arranging all the logistical and financial elements of a funeral ahead of time.

8.  How long does it take to plan a funeral?

Preplanning a funeral allows you to take your time to think through every detail of the service, from your music choices to who should deliver the eulogy. If arrangements aren’t made in advance, how long it takes to plan a funeral can depend on state laws, funeral home guidelines, method of disposition, and religious beliefs. In the United States, funerals typically take place within a week after a loved one passes.

9.  Can you have a funeral if you are choosing cremation?

Contrary to a popular myth about cremation, yes, you can have a funeral if you plan to be cremated instead of buried. Either method of disposition can be arranged when preplanning a funeral.

How to Preplan a Cremation with a Funeral Service

10.  Can I pay monthly for a funeral plan?

The short answer is “yes.” After working with a funeral director to determine the cost of your funeral, your Preneed insurance plan can be paid as a lump sum or in monthly installments. Great Western Insurance Company offers insurance plans tailored to your specific needs, such as Single Pay, One-year, Three-year, Five-year, and Ten-year payment options.

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Photo credit: iStock

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