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Planning for Final Expenses

Nobody likes to think about final expenses, but nobody wants this task to fall to grieving loved ones, either. Planning for final expenses can provide your family with a clear path forward that is consistent with your wishes and values. Getting this process out of the way can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind, so here are some tips on where to start. 

Traditional burial or cremation? 

People have been visiting the gravesites or memorial locations of their ancestors for thousands of years. Family plots are becoming more and more rare, but if your family has kept this tradition, then look into any potential ongoing maintenance costs before committing. Those who opt for cremation can still have their remains kept at a cemetery or spread in a cemetery garden, but there will likely be associated fees. 

People may opt for cremation due to religious beliefs or budgetary constraints, though your family can still have a traditional memorial service with an open casket wake if that is your family tradition. The real question is where you want your cremated remains to be interred, and depending on your wishes, your loved ones may need to obtain permission or permits for spreading ashes in public or private places.

As you contemplate this subject, think about accessibility and whether loved ones will be able to freely visit in the future, or how they can pay their respects as the years pass. 

Veteran or civilian? 

If you served in the armed forces, you’re granted a plot in a state or national veteran cemetery along with several other expenses covered by the government. If you prefer to be interred in a family plot rather than a veteran cemetery, the government provides reimbursements for the plot and limited expenses.

Although you may be aware of this benefit, make sure your family understands your wishes and how to initiate the process. They also need to have access to your discharge paperwork for submission to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Service location 

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for wakes to be held in family homes and memorial services to be held at a church. These days, families often attend a funeral home service and an internment service by the gravesite at a cemetery. If you are a member of a church, talk to your pastor, deacon, or priest about the services they provide and the costs involved.

Since funeral services can be fairly expensive, many people have been finding alternative methods and starting new family traditions or reverting back to more private DIY options. If you choose a private service with cremation afterward, there will be a few things to coordinate that is typically done by funeral homes. You can choose an ornate metal casket that can become a family heirloom or browse through designs for wood caskets for interment. 


Once you’ve hammered out the details and have a clear plan, there are a few different strategies for payment. If you are struggling with health issues, one method to obtain cash for advance arrangements is to sell your life insurance policy to a life insurance settlement company. You’ll get cash immediately instead of after your passing, and the company will collect on your life insurance later on.

If you’re still living in your home mortgage-free, a reverse mortgage is an option that will allow you to retain the title to your home. The proceeds of your loan will be repaid upon the sale of your estate. Some funeral homes offer pre-payment options, and there are funeral insurance policies similar to life insurance policies that can be obtained for your convenience. 

Whatever you choose, make sure there is a document or file with the relevant information that will be communicated to your loved ones. Giving them the comfort of knowing how to execute your final wishes as well as a roadmap for your service and interment can be one of the most loving parting gifts of all.

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