Planning Your Final Party


When Joanne Smith was in the final stages of her battle with cervical cancer, she spent a lot of time with her family discussing the type of funeral she wanted. She was certain that she did not want a traditional funeral, but instead wanted a personalized funeral that reflected her life. Forever a tender heart, Joanne wanted her funeral to show her love of Christ as well as her love of others. After much discussion, Joanne decided which songs she wanted, and the photographs that she thought best highlighted her life, especially her mission trips. She also asked each of her children to speak at her funeral with a request that they emphasize how she influenced their lives.

As we have discussed in past newsletters, pre-planning your funeral is highly recommended. As our readers are well aware, a pre-paid funeral is an exempt asset under the Medicaid rules - if done correctly. However, the type of funeral that clients are choosing is changing. Traditionally, families would pre-pay for a funeral service, selecting from a menu of goods and services provided by the funeral home. A typical funeral might include a wake, a religious service, then the burial followed by a dinner. Rarely was the service customized for the deceased. However today, traditional funerals are becoming less common. Baby boomers in particular, are choosing more personalized memorial services, often focusing on celebrating the person’s life.

The primary difference between a more traditional funeral and a “life celebration” is the personalization of the funeral service with the emphasis on rejoicing and celebrating the life of the deceased. Not surprisingly, the Internet and technology are helping shape this change. Some funeral homes offer a webcast for those loved ones who cannot attend the funeral. Also, numerous websites provide assistance to people wishing to design their own celebration of life funeral.

Whatever your funeral preference, it is strongly recommended that you discuss it with your loved ones. After all, the best way to be certain that your loved ones understand your desires is to let them know. If you don’t, rest assured they will decide for you.

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The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm

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