As we move through life, we learn about the different ways to protect our future. Retirement planning, health insurance, planning for a child's education, or even saving up for the down-payment on a house are just some of the types of arrangements we make to ensure our needs and desires are met. Another type of planning that makes sense for families is cremation pre-planning.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is an alternative to traditional in-ground burials. A cremation plan is often viewed as a way for families to minimize costs while also respecting the wishes of their loved ones in a compassionate and dignified manner. Cremated remains are typically placed in a special, decorative urn that's carefully chosen by family members. The remains can be buried in the traditional, customary fashion, they can be interred in a cryptorium at a cemetery, they can be scattered per the family member's wishes, or the family may keep the urn in a special place at home.
What is Cremation Pre-planning?
When a family contacts a cemetery or funeral home in advance of any death in the family and arranges for funeral and/or cremation services to be fulfilled at some future point in time, we call this 'cremation pre-planning'. The planning can even occur decades in advance.
Why Plan in Advance?
Cremation pre-planning is a way to lock in financial protection in advance. People who choose to make arrangements ahead of time are also hoping to ease the burden on their families at a time that will be very difficult for them. Planning in advance not only locks in today's prices before years of inflation, but also takes care of many of the decisions ahead of time, so grieving loved ones won't need to try to determine what the person would have wanted. It lets the planner tell their story their way.
What are the Benefits of Cremation Pre-planning?
People choose to plan cremation services well in advance for several reasons. First and foremost, they are hoping to avoid the climbing costs of cremation and funeral services. By arranging services ahead of time, they essentially pay for services at a cost that reflects prices at the time of planning rather than some point in the future when prices will have gone up. There are also installment cremation plans that treat this process almost like life insurance payments.
Secondly, people who choose pre-arranged cremation plans are also hoping to ease the financial burden on their families. By taking care of certain costs ahead of time, they hope to save loved ones from financial stress at an already difficult time.
Here's a summary of all the benefits of pre-planning a cremation service:
- It's a cost-saving measure because you are locking in today's prices
- It's a cost-saving measure because cremation has fewer fees than traditional burial
- It's better for the environment because it requires less land usage
- It lets you set your legacy how you want to be remembered
Who Can Benefit from Cremation Pre-planning?
Anyone can benefit from making plans ahead of time. From the price lock to the handling of details ahead of time, it helps out families in a number of ways. It gives loved ones time to grieve, unhindered by the confusing process of making what can seem like endless decisions about your service and burial. When all those choices have been made ahead of time, loved ones will be able to get through a difficult time in the way they choose — by grieving or by celebrating life — rather than having to deal with confusing decisions.
What Kind of Decisions Will I Have to Make?
There are legal, medical, and scientific matters to learn about and take care of. Once you learn about these aspects of cremation planning, you will be better informed about making important decisions.
You'll also want to choose how the ashes will be handled. Some people want their remains scattered over a special place such as the ocean or another place in nature that was special to them. Others wish to have them placed in a cemetery where families can visit. In those cases, a columbarium can be chosen. A columbarium is a special building in a cemetery that's designed to hold cremation urns so families may visit. Consider it to be similar to a mausoleum, which holds caskets. You'll also want to choose the type of cremation urn you want. There are many styles to choose from and this is purely an aesthetic choice. Another option at a cemetery is a scattering garden, created for the precise purpose of scattering cremated remains.
What Types of Cremation Plans are There?
When you choose cremation, there are three basic plans to choose from.
- Basic - Simple cremation takes place immediately, and the ashes are returned to the family in a special, decorative urn. There is no funeral.
- Memorial - This is similar to direct cremation (another word for 'simple cremation') but with a memorial service that takes place with the remains present.
- Funeral - This combines a traditional funeral, where those attending the funeral service may view the body and pay their respects in the traditional manner. After the funeral, there is a cremation rather than burial in a casket.
Are All Cremation Plans the Same?
No, not all cremation plans are the same. You and your family may talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the various types of plans to determine which is right for you. You should expect to be able to customize a plan so that it matches your needs, your wishes, and your budget.
How Can I Determine if a Plan is Right for Me?
Exploring the different plans is your first step. Learning the lingo, taking the time to understand everything, and drawing up comparisons on your own terms takes time, so give yourself plenty of it to make sure you understand what it is you're looking at.
Next, if you've drawn up a list of priorities and if you have a rough idea of a budget in mind, you may be able to narrow your choices without much further effort. Having done your homework means you'll be able to ask the right questions when it comes time to talk to someone about your options. It's always a good idea to bring along someone close to you, too. They can help you sort out all the information and they may think of some useful questions to ask.
Finally, if anything about a certain plan doesn't feel like a good fit, even if it's just a sneaking feeling that you can't quite define, then don't make any moves until you feel one hundred percent comfortable with your choices.
What Other Options are There?
Pre-planning isn't exclusive to those who have chosen this type of burial. You can pre-plan a traditional burial, too. Whether you are considering an in-ground burial, interment in a mausoleum, a natural burial, or cremation, there's a way to ensure you benefit from pre-planning. You can expect similar cost savings as well as the same peace of mind, knowing you've got it covered.
Where Can People Find Information About Pre-planning?
If you're thinking about pre-planning a cremation, getting started is easy. Download our free guide, find more online resources in our blog, or call to talk directly with a knowledgeable planner who can answer your planning questions.