This last year has changed a lot of things. We no longer take our health - or dining indoors - for granted; we feel naked without our face masks and we feel worried if we go too long without washing our hands. The pandemic has also changed another thing: how Americans talk about death. Before COVID-19, it was considered uncomfortable and inappropriate to discuss funeral arrangements ahead of time. Now more and more families are having this important conversation: Pre-planning or traditional funeral planning? Which option is right for my family?
What Does “Traditional Funeral Planning” Mean, Exactly?
When we say traditional funeral planning, it has less to do with a specific ceremony and more to do with a timeline. Traditionally, funeral planning goes like this: someone dies unexpectedly then the family scrambles to put together the arrangements and the guest list. A few days later, there is a service, a wake, and other religious traditions. A majority of Americans wait until the time of need to begin the conversation about funeral planning. However, there are several drawbacks to this timeline:
- Your family is more likely to get taken advantage of when you plan a funeral at the time of need. After a loved one dies, it is almost impossible for a family to make smart financial decisions. The haze of grief makes it easy to overspend and to get carried away. Most funeral directors know this, so they are likely to take advantage of your family, forcing you to part with your hard-earned money.
- Tempers flare and disagreements are bound to happen when you plan suddenly. All those old family feuds will come back when a loved one dies. Whether it is a new disagreement or an old fight, many families find themselves at each other’s throats around the time of funeral planning. Even the guest list may be hotly contested. Having such short notice to place a funeral doesn’t give anyone time to be rational and talk things out. The rushed natural of time-of-need funerals can easily exacerbate existing family dynamics.
- There is no time to save money, do research, and compare prices. Funeral homes are counting on you being rushed and in the dark about the details of funerals; they use this to overcharge you and trick you into buying fancy extras. When a loved one dies suddenly, you simply don’t have time to do research and compare prices before you have to start buying funeral goods.
- It is hard to know what they would have wanted. Some family members will specify ahead of time if they want to be buried or cremated, but others do not. Sometimes families are stuck as to what their loved one would have wanted. Rushing into a decision can cause regret in the future if families later decide that they should have buried grandpa because he wouldn’t have wanted to be cremated.
- It is emotionally traumatic to deal with a sudden death in the family. Death is the one thing in life that is unavoidable, yet it always takes people by surprise. Many families don’t talk about it because it is considered morbid, so deaths often blindside everyone and the hole in their lives feels so much bigger. While death can’t be avoided, there are ways to be better prepared when the time comes.
What is Funeral Pre-Planning?
Pre-planning can describe a few different behaviors that all involve preparing for your own funeral ahead of time. It can mean deciding what you want, writing it down, and leaving behind money in a bank account to pay for it. Most often, pre-planning also involves pre-purchasing, which is when you buy your funeral goods, like a casket, ahead of time. Some people pre-plan their entire funeral and pay for everything up front, while others only pay for the important stuff and leave the rest of the arrangements to the family.
For many families, pre-purchasing and pre-planning can be incredibly beneficial, both financially and emotionally. Here are some of the reasons why some families decide to pre-plan:
- It saves money. When you pre-purchase a casket, you can lock in a good price before inflation. Think about all the things that have become 10 times more expensive since you were a kid. Everything from candy to cars to college has inflated in price in the last 20 years. Those prices are going to continue going up with inflation, as will the price of a casket. You can either spend $1,000 to $3,000 now on a casket, or let your family pay up to $20,000 for the same casket when the time comes.
- It is beneficial to be prepared. As this year has shown us, life is unexpected. Imagine how relieved your family will be when the worst happens and they find out that you took care of everything ahead of time. It will allow them to take the time to care for themselves without worrying about their financial future. Pre-planning also allows you to pick out something that you want, which can make your funeral more personal.
- Pre-planning gives you time to think it through and make smart financial decisions. When you pre-plan, especially when you do it online with Overnight Caskets, you have plenty of time to weigh your options from the comfort of your own home. You will be able to compare prices, ask questions, research features, and seek advice from relatives. Pre-planning online also gives you plenty of time to figure out your budget and determine what you want.
Now you may be asking “Is funeral pre-planning right for my family? Should I go the traditional route?” Here are # factors to help you decide if pre-planning is right for your family:
1) Are there factors that would make it beneficial for you to be prepared?
Do you or a family member have a high-risk occupation or hobby? Do you have serious health concerns? Does heart disease, cancer, or risk of stroke run in your family?
Of course, no one wants to think about the worst happening, but it is better to be prepared. If the answer to any of those questions was “yes” for you or a family member, then you may want to consider pre-planning. Life is unpredictable, so it would benefit everyone for you to prepare by pre-planning. It would also give everyone peace of mind knowing that everything is in place for when the time comes.
Additionally, pre-purchasing a casket online can be a great opportunity to talk with your family about what you want, your beliefs, and some technical details. It is very important to have these conversations, yet many families are afraid to bring up death. When you pre-plan your funeral, it is the perfect opportunity to have those hard conversations.
2) What is your financial situation like?
Pre-planning is better than traditional funeral planning in that it gives you time to crunch the numbers and make a good financial decision. However, pre-planning isn’t always for everyone. Due to staggering wealth inequality, not every family has savings set aside for a rainy day. You should only consider pre-planning if you feel like you have enough in savings to handle emergencies. While buying a casket online is significantly cheaper than buying one at a funeral home, the money for pre-planning is still money that won’t help you until later.
However, if your extended family doesn’t have a lot of money for a funeral but you can afford to make the arrangements now, you should do so. No one wants their loved ones to go into debt to pay for a funeral.
If you are looking for ways to cut costs on a funeral, then buying a casket online is one of your best options. Whether you are planning at the time of need or pre-planning, Overnight Caskets makes high-quality, durable caskets that are a fraction of the price of what you would find in a funeral home. Our secret is that we buy direct from the manufacturers and that we have a fraction of the overhead of funeral homes; this allows us to keep our prices low and affordable.
3) Do you have unique wants or needs?
You know you better than anyone else does, even your family members. So if you want something special for your funeral, it is best that you plan it yourself. Whether you want to be the first in the family to be cremated, not buried in the family plot, or if you want a natural burial, making the arrangements ahead of time will ensure that you get what you want. Especially if you are looking to break with tradition, pre-purchasing guarantees that your loved ones will respect your wishes.
Are you specific? Do you have high standards? Do you want to avoid being buried in yellow at all costs? Pre-planning is the way to go. It is how to have control and go out on your own terms,
4) What are your family dynamics like?
If you have seen the movie Knives Out, you know that families may love each other but not always get along. Especially when money is involved, disagreements can arise. If your family is anything like that - hopefully not to the same degree as the Knives Out family - then pre-planning may be the best option for you. When you decide to pre-purchase a casket, we can sort out your funeral finances ahead of time and prevent family disagreements.
5) Are you ready to pre-plan your funeral
The truth is that not everyone is ready for funeral pre-planning. It requires you to think about your own death and make arrangements for a scary eventuality. If you are not ready to pre-plan or if you would rather not think about it, that’s okay. Many people don’t feel comfortable pre-planning. If this is the case, your family will need to take the traditional route and plan everything at the time of need. While pre-planning is usually recommended, traditional funeral planning can work better for certain families.
Your family can still save money when they plan the traditional way if they buy funeral items online. Things like caskets, headstones, and vaults are available for a fraction of the price of what you would pay at a funeral home. Under the FTC Funeral Rule, all funeral homes are required to accept outside purchases without charging an additional fee.
6) The possibility of life changes and changing your mind
A lot can happen in the space of a few years. Some people worry that they will move or change their mind and that it will void their pre-plans. When you pre-plan with Overnight Caskets, you are allowed to change your mind as much as you want. We realize that it is a difficult decision. If you decide that you want a more expensive casket, please contact us to let us know. You will need to pay the difference, but your original deposit will be safe and that balance will be applied in full to the cost of the new casket. If you decide to go simpler, then we will mail you a check with the difference.
One benefit of pre-planning with a e-commerce company is that you don’t need to worry about moving or us going out of business. Funeral homes go out of business or get bought out all the time, which puts your deposit at risk. Moving states can also complicate your contract if you pre-plan with a brick and mortar funeral home. Overnight Caskets, on the other hand, is not going anywhere! And if you move, all you need to do is call us to update your address and contact info.
If you are someone who likes change and enjoys moving every few years, then pre-planning with an online company is highly recommended for your lifestyle.
How To Buy a Casket Online
Buying a casket online is safe and simple. If you are purchasing a casket at the time of need, go to the Overnight Caskets website and catalog. If you are pre-planning, you will need to go to the pre-planning catalog.
Step 1: Browse the catalog. You can take as long as you need to find a casket that you like and that fits your budget.
Step 2: When you find the one, click “Add to Cart.” The e-commerce platform is just like any other online store. You can check out normally.
Step 3: The casket will be mailed to you as soon as possible if you are purchasing at the time of need. Be sure to check with the funeral home or cemetery to make arrangements for when the casket is delivered.
Step 4: If you are pre-purchasing, you will be sent confirmation paperwork. Put this in a safe place and notify your family members of your decision. When the time comes, all they will need to do is contact Overnight Caskets to have the casket shipped out.