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Funeral Arrangements - Aging Wisely

Despite varying cultural and personal styles, funeral/memorial services share the common goal of honoring the person’s life and bringing closure for family and friends. There are many things to consider in making these arrangements for a loved one. You can provide a lot of peace of mind for your family by making your wishes known or pre-arranging for these needs. From selecting a funeral home and cemetery to notifying family and friends, accommodating guests from out of town, planning a service, and handling the many details, this can be an overwhelming process for a grieving person or family.

According to AARP, the basic cost of a funeral in 2001 was $5160, not including burial and related costs. A funeral can thus be a pretty costly event, although not out-of line with other major life events such as births and weddings. Ceremonies and options vary widely. These choices are very personal and influenced by the cultural, religious, and personal beliefs of the individual and family.

Quick facts and pointers:

  • Irrevocable burial contracts, a burial plot and up to a $2500 burial account are exempt assets under current FL Medicaid law.
  • Encourage relatives to consider pre-planning or at least putting their wishes in writing, so that the family knows what is desired.
  • Remember, a will or other legal documents do not typically include this type of information. This information should be discussed and placed where easily located in time of crisis.
  • You can make arrangements with a funeral provider and may or may not choose to pre-pay for arrangements. It is important to review plans every few years, to ensure they are still appropriate. For example, as areas change and families move, you may modify plans for burial sites.
  • Embalming is not required by law, if the body is buried or cremated shortly after death. It is a practical necessity with some arrangements or required in certain cases by state regulation.
  • There are many choices when planning a cremation. Some people have a traditional viewing and service before cremation, while others have a memorial service and there are many options for the final disposition of the remains.
  • Check into the details of the plan when you choose to pre-pay costs, as well as what protection your state offers you as a consumer.
  • Know your rights: the funeral rule is a federal law, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. According to the Funeral Rule: you have the right to choose the funeral goods and services you want (with some exceptions); the funeral provider must state this right in writing on the general price list, if state or local law requires you to buy any particular item; the funeral provider must disclose it on the price list, with a reference to the specific law; the funeral provider may not refuse, or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere; a funeral provider that offers cremations must make alternative containers available.

Quick Resource List:

Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetery and Burial Benefits Site

AARP offers a basic checklist of items that should be taken care of following a loss:
AARP Final Details: A Checklist

Aging Wisely has a set of tools we provide to families when preparing for the loss of a loved one and managing the funeral and planning after death. We also offer consultations with families on these issues, with our expert care manager who has many years prior experience in the funeral industry.

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