Planning Ahead



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How to Pre-Arrange a Cremation

Preplanning cremation with your loved ones, or as part of a cremation society, allows you to communicate your final wishes, an act of generosity to your family at the time of need.

In documenting those wishes, you’re helping loved ones, as well as funeral and crematory service providers, ensure they are fully and appropriately fulfilled. The process of what happens before, during, and after a loved one passes away can be overwhelming in multiple ways to all those involved, so it’s a comfort to know decisions are already made before the time of need.

Choosing a Provider

In preplanning, the first step is to choose a cremation service provider you trust, who is considered reputable and is able to fulfill your wishes. With your spouse or family, make a list of questions and concerns to ask the provider.

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has a checklist of questions and considerations to help you make the choice that’s right for you and your loved ones.

For instance:

  • If you move from the area or are traveling when you pass away, is the provider responsible for handling the arrangements?
  • What type of memorial service you want, if any: a traditional funeral service, a small private gathering, or another customized event? That will help you choose how many people will attend, and where the service or gathering will take place.
  • After the cremation and service, what is your wish for the final disposition of your ashes? Do you want them to be preserved in an urn (and if so, what kind of urn), or have them scattered? There are many options for memorialization.

Communication is Key

In the preplanning process, include family members, friends, or other loved ones. The more everyone knows about the process, the easier it will be to avoid confusion, disagreement, or hurt feelings.

Loved ones can help make the difficult decisions of where to be cremated and have memorial services. They can help choose a funeral director and the type of funeral service.

In working this process out with loved ones, document what you decide, either in your will or with the crematory/funeral home you have selected.

Paying for Cremation

When you’ve settled on your decisions, it’s best to pay for the arrangements so there are no doubts or mistakes later. Your life insurance company (if applicable) should be contacted. Although the company won’t provide payment at this point, you and your loved ones will get information on how, and if, insurance will cover the arrangements. With this in mind, it’s easier to plan the entire process.

If family or loved ones are paying for the arrangements, coming to agreements with them is a crucial part of the preplanning process. Make sure everyone understands who is assuming financial responsibility, what you’ve budgeted, and go forward accordingly.