Knowing your options to make empowered choices.
The thought of planning your funeral can be sad for some, but the key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be. Doing so gives you the chance to have a say in the critical decisions and arrangements yourself and will ease your family’s emotional burden.
What sort of service do you want? Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? What music would you like to be played? Who should give the eulogy? Do you want to pay for the service now? These are just some of the questions you need to think about.
When many people think about funeral pre-planning, they assume that it means they must pay for arrangements upfront, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Yes, you can pre-pay for your funeral, but other pre-planning options are worth considering.
You may want to pre-plan your funeral and leave the payment to be dealt with at the time. Or, if you’re concerned about having enough money at the time of your death to pay for your funeral, there are several different financing options available.
Here’s a rundown of some of your options.
What are Pre-planned funerals?
When you pre-plan your funerals, there’s no money involved. You document what you want for your funeral service.
Some of the decisions you’ll need to make include:
- When and where will the funeral be held?
- If you will be buried or cremated?
- If you would like a coffin or a casket?
- Who will attend the service?
- What vehicles will be required?
- What flowers do you prefer?
- What parts of the service will include music?
- Is an order of service booklet is needed?
- If there will be a tribute presentation?
- Who will give the eulogy?
- Is the funeral to be advertised, either in the newspaper or online?
- If there will there be an after the funeral gathering?
- What sort of memorialisation there might be?
Real-World Story: Shared by Mary, who pre-planned her funeral.
Mary’s best friend, Sandra, recently died. Her death was unexpected, and Mary saw the funeral planning process’s emotional toll on Sandra’s family. It was hard for them to make choices for her service when they were struggling to deal with her sudden death.
Mary doesn’t want her family to go through the same thing should this happen to her, so she’s decided to pre-plan her funeral. She knows her estate will cover the funeral costs, but she wants to make sure her family and friends know what she wants for her final send-off.
Mary wants the service to reflect her bright and bubbly personality. So she’s picked happy music, colourful flowers and has made a special request that no one wears black to the service. Mary recorded her choices and nominated her preferred funeral director, who provided her with a copy of her family and legal representative.
While she understands that some people might think pre-planning your funeral is a bit sad, she wants to be realistic and now feels more comfortable knowing that her family won’t have to deal with the same emotional burden as Sandra’s.
Pros of pre-planned funerals
- You will have the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs are in order.
- It’s a way to let your family and friends know what you want for your service and make your wishes known.
- You have time to do your research and make informed choices about the options available.
- You are easing your loved ones’ heavy burden during their time of grief by making many of the big decisions about your service.
- You can provide the information needed for the registration of your death that your family may not know about.
- It can help to stop any potential misunderstandings or disagreements among family and friends when planning your service.
Cons of pre-planned funerals
- You need to update your details and choices if and when your circumstances change (for example, when you move or change doctors).
- Those organising the funeral may think your decisions are locked in and feel unable to make the personal choices that will help them mourn. But you can make it clear that even though you have shared your preferences, they can also contribute elements.
Your trusted funeral partner can guide you through the pre-planning process and help you record all your funeral choices. They can keep a copy of your choices on file, or you can choose to provide a copy to a family member, friend, solicitor, or the executor of your will.
What are pre-paid funerals?
A pre-paid funeral is a pre-planned funeral that is paid for before your death. You arrange the funeral service you want at today’s prices. So, depending on any specific arrangements in the pre-paid funeral contract, your funeral plan will not be affected by any future price rises.
A pre-paid funeral takes an enormous emotional and financial burden away from your family. It’s one less thing for them to deal with at a difficult time.
When you pre-pay for a funeral, your money is in safe hands. While your pre-paid funeral contract is between you and your trusted funeral provider, your money under the pre-paid contract is held separately. The contract can be taken out by a single person or in multiple names, and the money is securely invested and capital guaranteed. You can also take out an optional travel protection plan to help protect against the potentially high transportation costs from the place of death to the funeral home.
Your nominated funeral provider will hold a copy of your pre-paid funeral contract for you. You should also keep a copy in a safe place and let a family member, friend or the executor of your will know where it is.
It’s essential to ensure that your Pre-Paid funeral and its nominated provider align with the acts and regulations, namely the Funeral Funds Act 1979, until needed.
Real-World Story: David pre-pays for his funeral
David is in a long-term, committed relationship with his partner Julian – but unfortunately, David’s family has never accepted the relationship. When David was diagnosed with terminal cancer, they decided to enter into a pre-paid contract for David’s funeral.
Both David and Julian have firm ideas for David’s funeral service. Still, they are concerned that David’s family will not allow Julian to be included in the planning process when the time comes.
Yet, by having the pre-paid contract that details all of David’s choices for his funeral and paying the costs upfront, they have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is locked into place.
This includes their chosen funeral director, who will ensure David’s wishes are honoured. Both David and Julian feel that a significant emotional and financial burden has been lifted, and they can focus on making the most of the time they have left together.
Pros of pre-paid funerals
- Costs are fixed, so you can pre-pay for the funeral you want at today’s prices.
- Your money is securely invested in compliance with strict government guidelines.
- You make the choices you want for your funeral.
- You can pay in a lump sum or by instalments. If you pay by instalments, you have up to three years to pay in full (conditions apply).
- You’re not locked into a particular funeral director. The pre-paid contract is transferable.
- A pre-paid funeral can be cheaper than a funeral bond or funeral insurance if you live longer than another 5 to 10 years.
- The amount you pay for the pre-paid contract won’t be included in any asset, and income means testing when assessing eligibility for the aged pension.
Cons of pre-paid funerals
- If you change your mind about the pre-paid funeral during the cooling-off period, you’ll generally forfeit the administrative setup fee.
- If you pay in instalments, the pre-paid contract is not claimable until the final payment is made. This means if you die before the contract is paid in full, any funeral costs will need to be paid at current prices lower than the amounts already paid in the pre-paid contract.
Which is better a Pre-Planned or Pre-Paid Funeral?
Both Pre-Planned and Pre-Paid funerals are there to help simplify the process of organising either a funeral or farewell. This can be for yourself or a loved one, the important thing is to always do your research and ask lots of question so you can make informed choices that best suit your needs and wishes.
The YourLoss.com.au partners are committed to providing people with easy, uncomplicated, compassionate care and guidance on all aspects of the farewell process, including better understanding your choices regarding Pre-Paid and Pre-Planned funerals and, are happy to assist you. Visit our partner’s page to find your closest provider.
The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers.
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