You can save your family some time and trouble by giving some thought to what kind of send-off you’d like for yourself and discussing it with them ahead of time. The specificity of your plans might well vary depending on your stage of life and general health. And you should anticipate that they may change over time. A sample of instructions you might leave for your family can be found on the After I’m Gone checklist. You may also include your general wishes and name the person you want to be in charge of making funeral arrangements in your Advance Directive for Health Care.

You may decide to just leave it to your family to decide what would make them feel most comforted after your death.  But if there is a possibility of family disagreements over these decisions, you could forestall future discord by making your preferences known, if only to give your blessing to minimizing expenses if cost is an issue.  

Whatever you decide, it is prudent to be certain money is set aside and available for these expenses after your death. Those you leave behind are under no obligation to provide an extravagant funeral if you don’t leave them the resources to pay for it.

That said, FCA does not generally recommend prepaying a funeral establishment for services unless death is expected within the near future or one is spending down in the process of applying for government support such as Medicaid. An alternative is leaving money in a transfer-on-death account to the person who will be in charge of funeral planning.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maryland and Environs

P.O. Box 34177

Bethesda, MD 20827

FCAME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.