The Cost of Waiting Until You Die

Couple in the distance of long and densely wooded path walking together as they discuss their funeral plans.

You may not have thought about your own funeral, and if you have, you may have brushed it aside. No one wants to dwell on their own mortality, or think about their family mourning. That’s why we hear a lot of people say, “Don’t make a big fuss over me, just cremate me and scatter my ashes somewhere pretty” or, “My wife knows me, she’ll know what I’d want.” They believe they’re making things easier for their spouses and children by lifting a burden from them, or that planning a funeral won’t be a difficult task for those who know them well. In reality, their ambiguity and dismissal of the topic of their death only add to what will already be a very stressful time for their loved ones.

Depending on what type of ceremony or disposition is involved, a funeral’s budget can vary greatly. And if you’ve never helped plan one before, you’re probably unfamiliar with all the details that go into one and the rising costs associated with each. Regardless of how modest or elaborate you envision your final goodbye to be, if you don’t plan it in advance, your death will always be more expensive for your loved ones—both financially and emotionally.

When you pre-plan your funeral, you plan and make financial arrangements for it ahead of time, ensuring your family won’t saddle the burden when the time comes. In accordance with New Mexico state law, your funeral plan policy is protected and held by an insurance company until the time of your death, guaranteeing that it will be available at the time of need. Eighty percent of the price of your arrangements are guaranteed and locked in, protecting you from inflation in the future. (The other 20% that is not guaranteed are items such as taxes, death certificates, flowers, and other fees associated with vendors outside the funeral home.) Your funeral plan also protects you from Medicaid Spend Down when deemed irrevocable.

Even if the financial requirements of a funeral may not be a strain on your family, planning a loved one’s funeral or celebration of life can be very emotional for a grieving family. Sitting in a room at a funeral home with a funeral director for hours answering hundreds of questions regarding your loved one’s personal information and the many details required to plan a funeral is not what families want to be doing when they’re grieving, during what can be a very painful, exhausting and emotionally difficult time. Even the simplest arrangements require a multitude of required details to be sorted out.

We often see this strain multiplied when family members can’t agree on how their loved one would have wanted their funeral. Some of the most painful days have been made so much more upsetting by families fighting over details. This is especially prevalent when blended families are involved.

In an attempt to relieve their families of the trouble of planning a funeral, some individuals opt for direct cremation with no memorial service at all, thinking it will make things easier. What we find in these instances are families who are unwittingly denied a crucial step in a healthy grief process. A ceremony to say goodbye, however small or simple, has a profound effect on helping people cope with loss and begin healing.

By planning your final arrangements in advance, you alleviate your loved ones from a slew of decisions that have to be made, as well as from the financial responsibilities that come with them. All they have to do when the time comes is call the funeral home you’ve preplanned with and answer a few questions. Everything is taken care of for them, freeing them to be with the people who need them most.

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