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Why Your Funeral Plan Should be Separate from Your Will

Small American flag in a veterans cemetery ground.

There comes a time in life when you may begin to think about how you want to be remembered after you pass and how your loved ones will celebrate and honor your life. You may already have preferences in mind for a couple, or many aspects of the funeral service. Most people first think about final disposition and whether to choose burial or cremation. However, there’s much more to think about than that.

Maybe you want your family to attend a traditional funeral service, or you’d like them to simply hold a gathering to spread your ashes in an outdoor area that’s close to your heart. Maybe you prefer certain songs, readings, or flowers to have at your service to help your family and friends celebrate your personality and passions, or maybe you’d like something low-key and simple—no fuss.

Whatever your preferences may be, it’s important to have them written down somewhere and safely kept, so these plans are carried out when the time comes. But how and where should you write these plans?

One common misconception is that funeral plans can be included in your will, rather than on a separate document. While technically you can include funeral arrangements in a will, a will is very different from a funeral preplan and keeping them separate will save you and your loved ones a lot of stress and time when it comes to end-of-life planning. Although writing these two documents separately may not be the most pleasant of tasks, it will save your family a lot of time, stress, and even money when the time comes.

Why It's Important to Have a Separate Funeral Plan

Creating a will is an important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Your final will and testament’s primary purpose is to provide information and direction for the distribution of your estate after your passing. This includes the allocation of your financial assets, personal possessions, and physical property. A will can also serve to designate who you wish to become the guardian of any minor children or dependents, and which loved ones – or beneficiaries – you’d like to bequeath your possessions.

A funeral preplan, also known as advanced planning, is also a critical document for yourself and your loved ones. It tells them and the funeral home of your choice exactly what you want your funeral ceremony, memorial service, or celebration of life to look like. A well-thought-out funeral plan helps to remove a lot of the stress, anxiety, and doubt that often plagues newly bereaved families. Funeral plans help to eliminate any questions your family may have about what you wanted, and it minimizes or eliminates potential disagreements that can arise between family members when they’re left to plan final arrangements.

So, why should you keep these documents separate? The most important factor is that it will likely be ineffective. Settling estate and probate proceedings typically don’t take place until after the funeral, meaning your will won’t be opened and read beforehand, therefore your loved ones won’t be made aware of your final wishes until it’s too late.

Another reason for not including your funeral plan in your will is because your body can’t be part of your estate since it’s not considered “property” under law. Because your body won’t be under your estate’s control, your family or designated executor may not be able to carry out your final wishes.

Safe Keeping of Your Preplan

Something else to consider is where you should store these documents for safety and to ensure every instruction of yours is carried out. A will can be kept in many places including in the home, with an attorney, in a safe deposit box, or with a family member. A formal funeral plan, on the other hand, is best kept with your funeral director, to store safely until it’s time to start putting the plans you outlined into motion.

A funeral director will guide you through the process of planning, safely keep your plan until it’s needed, and then work with your family and services necessary to ensure your memorial service is just as you wanted it. If your plans are written into your will and stowed away elsewhere, they may not reach the knowledge of your funeral director and loved ones in time.

How to Begin Preplanning

Although preplanning can seem like a daunting task to take on, it’s much easier than you might think. The team at Horan & McConaty has been guiding the families of our communities in the Denver Metro area through the preplanning process for decades, and we are here to make the experience stress-free and uncomplicated. When you call Horan & McConaty, a funeral director will help you plan one of the most important events of your life, ensuring you and your loved ones have everything you need when it comes to services, resources, and support.

Once you speak with your loved ones about preplanning, call us at (303) 745-4418. We’re available to answer any questions you may have about preplanning, cremation, and memorial service options.

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