It's not hard to argue that advance funeral planning is a good idea: When it comes to any major life decision, it's better to have a plan in place. Homesteaders' research has shown that virtually all policy owners are completely or very satisfied with their decision to prearrange.* But what factors motivate people to make advance funeral plans?
To answer this question, we asked Homesteaders policy owners to tell us: What was the main reason you decided to make these plans now, instead of last year or next year?
1. Family member/friend died recently
When a loved one dies, it's natural to start thinking about one’s own death. These thoughts become more prominent in the days surrounding the funeral or memorial service. When death is top-of-mind, people may also think about how they want to be remembered. They might even unconsciously evaluate the funeral for the loved one and consider which elements they would (or wouldn't!) want for their own funeral.
For people who are actively involved in planning their loved one's funeral - especially if it is their first experience with the process - the decisions can be overwhelming. This can spark a desire to prearrange because it offers an opportunity to remove this burden for their own families and helps ensure their wishes are met.
2. Finally knew arrangements they wanted
Before a person can make advance funeral plans, he or she has to identify preferences and feel comfortable sharing them with others. There may be hesitation to commit to making these plans, especially for those who don't know they'll be able to make changes later. (In most cases, you can.)
Thinking about death isn't easy for anyone, and it gets even more complicated when considering one's own death and the impact it will have on loved ones. When we're encouraged to approach this process as something to be celebrated (through programs such as FAMIC's Have the Talk of a Lifetime), the subject becomes less intimidating and it's easier to make plans.
3. Finally had money to do it
Funeral planning is rarely a high priority for healthy individuals, and it can be even less of a priority when it comes to budgeting and finances. Day-to-day expenses may be a barrier to planning for the future, especially for those who are in the "sandwich generation" (in the position of caring for aging relatives while still providing support for children).
When families do set aside resources to pay for the funeral, they indicate satisfaction with their decision. Responses from our survey included comments such as:
- “I think everyone should do it so it doesn't fall on someone else.”
- “I’m just so happy that I got it done.”
- “I feel very good about it. I have no regrets.”
Taking care of advance funeral arrangements can offer tremendous peace of mind for both the person who prearranges and his or her family.
*Statistics and quotes in this article based on results of a 2013 Homesteaders policy owner survey.