Funeral Industry News Preplanning

7 Tips For Encouraging Families To Pre-Plan Their Funeral

April 22, 2015

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7 Tips For Encouraging Families To Pre-Plan Their Funeral

Article By: Rochelle Rietow, FuneralOne

For funeral directors, there is perhaps no sentence sweeter or easier on the ears than, “I’m here to pre-plan my funeral.” (Ahh, just say it to yourself a couple times… brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it?)

Why exactly do funeral professionals prefer pre-planning? Mostly because it gives them a chance to really connect with someone, find out what matters most to them and what they truly want out of their funeral, and then they get to carry out their wishes ﹘ all without the stress, time-constraints and anxiety that comes with post-death decision making. I don’t know about you, but if we were going to plan a funeral, this is the way we’d want to do it.

But unfortunately, despite the huge value that a pre-arranged funeral can bring (to both the arranger and their loved ones), the number of people that come in to pre-plan their funeral is likely way less than you would like it to be. (In fact, it’s probably the minority of your families.) Why? They simply don’t understand all of the advantages that this service can offer. Luckily, we’ve gathered 7 of our best tips for getting families to see the value of pre-planning once and for all.

Encourage Families To Map Out Their Legacy

1. “This is an opportunity for you to put your end-of-life wishes down on paper.” 

Whether a person wants to plan a traditional, religious service, or they are interested in being cremated and having their ashes scattered at sea, pre-planning puts these important decisions in writing. Encourage families to share their personalization preferences ﹘ from the music played, to the food served, to the dress code ﹘ so that their family doesn’t have to second guess these important decisions, or be stressed about whether or not they are making a decision that their loved one would approve of. When you pre-plan, these decisions will be set in place so that all there is left to do is honor and memorialize.

2. “You can map out the memory you will leave behind.” 

Sometimes people need to be reassured that pre-planning their funeral doesn’t have to be a creepy, daunting task that has them “looking forward” to death. Your job as a funeral professional should be to help your families understand that pre-planning their funeral allows them to ensure that they will be remembered in a very specific and special way. And that’s a very responsible decision. For instance, do they have memories and hobbies from their life that they want to emphasize? (Maybe they were an enthusiastic fisher or motorcyclist.) Now is the chance to highlight those memories and celebrate those moments.

3. “Relieve your family from the trouble and hassle of planning your funeral.”

Sure, pre-planning a funeral can help to put a person’s mind at ease that all of their end-of-life wishes are fulfilled. But what’s equally important about pre-arranging is that it also helps to ease the burden that is placed on a family during their time of grief. Help your families understand just how comforting it can feel to know that the decision making pressure and even the financial burden doesn’t have to be left to their loved ones during the overwhelming, stressful days following death. After all, family and friends are the most important parts of a person’s life ﹘ you want them to focus on a person’s memories that matter most, not the financial costs of a funeral.

Educate Families On The Value Of Pre-Planning

4. “Begin saving for your funeral now while you’re thinking ahead.” 

As funeral professionals, we know just how overwhelming and shocking the cost of a funeral can be when it is sprung on families after an unexpected passing. Some families even assume that a person’s savings or life insurance will cover their final expenses, and so they don’t have any money set aside when it comes time to plan a worthy and beautiful service. Thankfully, by pre-planning their funeral, a family has the opportunity to compare different services, consider their options, and begin saving (and paying) for the funeral now ﹘ while they have the time to do so. Emphasize to your families just how comforting and relieving it is to have the opportunity to budget the service they want, while also giving their loved ones financial relief.

5. “Avoid rising funeral costs by locking in your price now.”

It’s no secret that the average cost of a funeral is rising. In fact, in 1960, the average cost of an adult funeral was only $708. As of 2013, that number had risen to over $7,000. That is a huge difference ﹘ and would have been a huge savings to the person who decided to pre-plan their funeral 5, 10 or even 15 years ahead of time. Therefore, be sure to let your families know just how valuable it is to plan and purchase all aspects of their funeral now, so they are locked in to the price. If you’re like most funeral homes, this guaranteed cost for pre-planning families is a huge advantage when it comes time to deciding if they should plan now or wait until later.

Ease Their Fears

6. “This doesn’t have to be a permanent, unchanging decision.”

One reason why most families are hesitant to pre-plan their funeral is because of the weight that comes with it ﹘ many people think of a funeral as a permanent, forever choice. And that once the decisions are made and the papers are signed, it can’t be reversed and they’re stuck with their choices forever. However, most funeral homes are more than happy to make alterations or additions to pre-planning wishes. Many will even reach out to another funeral home or cemetery to coordinate a family’s plans if a change of address is made, or they decide to move their plans somewhere else. If your funeral home offers these options, be sure to let your families know so you can ease their nerves about making such a significant decision.

7. “Your wishes will be honored ﹘ no matter what.”

Another concern that many families have about pre-planning is that, because they are making their decisions in advance, something may change or a problem may occur in the future that will alter their wishes. For instance, some people are often concerned about whether or not their family members will be able to trump or change their decisions. Others worry about what will happen to their wishes if the funeral home changes owners. Therefore, be sure to reassure your pre-planning families that, above all, carrying out their wishes is your priority, and that you will make sure their requests are carried out in any of these circumstances.