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Funeral planning should go with estate planning

Some of our readers may not consider funeral planning to be part of estate planning, but in our view it is a closely related and important aspect of that planning. It is important to plan for your funeral if for no other reason than to make it easier on your family once you are gone.

Funeral planning can be as detailed as you wish. In fact, more folks are personalizing their funerals nowadays than ever before. That includes bringing in nontraditional plans and doing things that have never been done. What are the most important aspects to consider?

Disposition of your body is a particularly important point to clarify. Traditional burial has more options than it used to, including green burials, in which the body is not embalmed, but allowed to decompose in the earth. In this route, the casket is made from a recycled material that will allow the body to decompose.

The first point is the mode of disposition. Cremation has become more popular in recent years as it is cheaper than traditional funeral and burial, easier to transport the remains, and has become more accepted in various faith traditions.

Last year, nearly 41 percent of those who died selected cremation, as opposed to 15 percent in 1995. Cremated remain can be either stored in an urn or scattered in a special place. There are other options though, such as embedding the remains in pottery or distributing them among family members.

Another aspect of disposition of the body is what personal items you wish to be buried with, if any. It may be a pet or other personal items, but some folks want to specify that. Keep in mind, though, that every cemetery has different rules as far as this goes.

Specific plans for the funeral itself and the burial ceremony are also important to many. The place, ceremony, food, and music are just some aspects that can be addressed and planned out.

Finally, it is important to set aside money for your funeral. There are a number of ways you can do this, which we’ll discuss in our next post.

Source: Associated Press, “Funeral planning can save money, heartache,” Tom Murphy, December 7, 2011.