WHAT IT IS:
Pre-planning is simply the process of drawing up plans for a funeral/celebration of life, before they are needed. It involves gathering a variety of family information that is required for vital statistics in Ontario. The type of service you want will be discussed; such as where the funeral will take place, who may participate in readings, eulogies etc. even which songs you would like played or hymns sung. Your funeral services professional can help you plan, organize and record all of your requests.
You may choose to pay for the arrangements in advance, or your plans can be simply held as being recorded at your funeral home of choice and invoiced to the estate at the cost when services are required (at need).
While everyone who makes the decision to pre-plan has their own reasons for doing so, we are often told the greatest motivator is the desire to protect their family by ensuring they will not have to make the difficult decisions at the time of death. The families that have come in “at need” to find their loved-one had pre-planned are thankful that they do not have to make those decisions and/or reach out to other family members to ascertain where their grandmother was born and what her maiden name was. We advocate pre-planning because our experience has shown us that not only is planning ahead stress free, but people have the time and information they need to make carefully considered, pressure-free decisions that are the right choices for themselves and their families.
Pre-planning has become an extension of the estate planning process. It is simply one more necessity they choose to take care of as they plan for retirement. When one chooses to prefund their arrangements by paying for services and merchandise now, their family will not be faced with additional costs at the time of need.
Each person’s circumstances along with other factors will influence the decision to pre-pay or not; there are a number of advantages of prepayment to be considered. You have the option of making a single full payment, or making partial payments over a time period that is comfortable for you. There are also insurance options that cover the costs even before the whole amount has been paid, but may be subject to a two year contestability period relating to your medical health. Once you have fully funded your pre-planned arrangements, the costs of services and merchandise provided by the funeral home are protected, regardless of price increases. This will shield your family from inflation on funeral costs over time.
HOW TO DO IT
For some families, casual conversation about your wishes for your final arrangements over dinner may be easy and comfortable. For others, you may request family members gather for a formal meeting to discuss what your wishes are.
Regardless of your approach, the conversation is much easier to have when death is not imminent.
If you are prearranging for yourself, you may tell your children or loved ones that it is because you care for them so much, you do not want to burden them with making these difficult decisions when you die. Tell them you have made your own final arrangements and give them a copy of them.
If you are wanting your parent(s) to consider making arrangements; let them know that you want to ensure their final arrangements are done according to their wishes and you need their help in ensuring that happens. This is also an opportunity to express your needs as being the family member(s) left to grieve and honour their life.
Some conversation starters may be, “Have you ever thought about if you would like to be buried or cremated” or “What type of funeral or celebration would you like to have”?
When attending a funeral of a friend, colleague or family member, you may take that opportunity to ask what they liked or did not like about the service.
You also may want to make it a family affair and either ask your parent(s) or your children to attend the funeral home with you – or have a funeral services professional come to you/them to discuss all the options together.
While no one wants to think about their death or that of a loved one any sooner than they must, having the conversation in advance alleviates the need for potentially more unpleasant or difficult conversations in the future. You also want family members to avoid emotional spending if they are making all of the decisions at the time of need while immersed in grief.
Written by: Cam Skipper, McIntyre & Wilkie Funeral Home Ltd.