The Unexpected Legacy You’ll Leave

preplanning a funeral notebook

When a person thinks about what they’ll leave behind for their loved ones when they pass, it’s usually money, meaningful mementos, a family business perhaps. But there are a hundred other, less comforting, items that next-of-kin are handed down when their parent, spouse, or family member dies.

On top of dealing with profound loss, family is left to shoulder all the responsibilities that come with the ending of a life. A laundry list of people to call, details to decide on, accounts to close, and loose ends to tie up – all while grappling with grief – await your loved ones upon your death.

Sound depressing? Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent many of the burdens from falling on the shoulders of the people you care about most. And that’s planning your funeral in advance, or preplanning. By taking care of your final arrangements ahead of time, you eliminate all of the decision-making, planning and even disagreements between family members that come with arranging services. Which means your loved ones are free to grieve in peace and be where they’re needed most.

Here are some of the things a family can expect to have to take care of or decide upon when their loved one dies:

Call or notify as soon as possible:

  • All relatives
  • All close friends
  • Employer
  • Professional relationships
  • Clergy/religious leaders
  • Funeral home
  • Cemetery
  • Doctor
  • Employer of deceased
  • Co-workers
  • Employers of relatives who will miss work
  • Newspapers regarding notices
  • Social Security Administration
  • Veterans Administration
  • Insurance agents
  • Religious, fraternal, civic organizations and unions
  • Attorney, accountant, financial planner and executor of estate
  • Credit card companies

Collect Documents & Paperwork

  • Final will
  • Legal papers, certificates and permits
  • Prepare legal papers, certificates and permits
  • Birth Certificate/legal proof of age
  • Citizenship papers
  • Social Security card or number
  • Marriage license
  • Veterans discharge certificate
  • Submit insurance policies (life, health, accident, property, auto) and government forms
  • Disability claims
  • Bank books and listing of accounts
  • Other financial accounts
  • Property deeds
  • Cemetery deed or proof of ownership
  • Auto titles or bills of sale
  • Income tax returns, receipts and cancelled checks

Collect Vital Statistics

  • Full legal name
  • Complete address
  • Telephone number and email address
  • Religious name (if any)
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Marital status
  • Name of spouse
  • Spouse’s birth name
  • Educational achievement
  • Citizenship
  • Father’s name and birthplace
  • Mothers’ name, birth name, and birthplace
  • Number and full names of children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren
  • Occupation, job title, nature of work and employment history

Decide and Arrange Soon After Death

  • Embalming and other preparation of deceased
  • Method of disposition (burial/cremation)
  • Cemetery arrangements
  • Secure interment space and get exact location of burial/disposition
  • Arrange for opening and closing of grave/mausoleum/niche space
  • Secure endowment care
  • Graveside committal service
  • Secure use of cemetery chapel for committal prayers
  • Location of funeral or memorial service
  • Service type (religious, fraternal, military, celebration of life, etc.)
  • Private or public viewing
  • Time and place for visitation and service
  • Time, place and attendees for scattering service
  • Arrange for special religious services (wake, rosary, calling hours, etc.)
  • Provide information for eulogy
  • Select casket (open or closed?)
  • Select outer burial container and/or burial vault
  • Select urn/niche space
  • Provide vital statistics about deceased for newspaper
  • Clothing for deceased
  • Jewelry/accessories for deceased
  • Select cosmetology and hairstyling for deceased
  • Selection of scripture/readings
  • Clergy or other individual to officiate
  • Family and friends to speak at service
  • Marking of grave (temporary or permanent)
  • Select memorial marker/monument setting and inscription
  • Select charitable contributions for memorials in memory of deceased
  • Register book, memorial/prayer cards
  • Select pallbearers
  • Floral arrangements and transportation before and after services
  • Select music/musicians
  • Arrange for funeral coach
  • Arrange limousine for family and pallbearers
  • Arrange funeral car list for family and guests
  • Clothing for you and your children
  • Decide who will look after children and/or pets
  • House cleaning
  • Extra chairs
  • Transportation for family and guests
  • Reviewing and signing all paperwork (i.e., burial permit)
  • Answering numerous calls, emails, texts, letters
  • Meetings with funeral director, lawyer, clergy, cemetery
  • Arrange transportation and lodging for out-of-town guests
  • Acknowledging those who helped (food, flowers, donations, etc.)
  • Choose number of certified copies of death certificate to order
  • Lodging and food for family and out-of-town guests
  • Items for memento display and/or memorial board
  • Other meaningful personal touches
  • Decide on memorial video production, pictures, music, etc.
  • Write thank you notes
  • Write obituary
  • Notify/close password protected accounts (email, internet, streaming services, cable, cell phone providers, social media, etc.)

 Financial Considerations

  • Estate/Inheritance taxes
  • Funeral expenses
  • Purchase of family burial estate, mausoleum crypt, cremation niche
  • Family burial estate, mausoleum crypt, cremation niche opening and closing costs
  • Permanent memorialization
  • Monument/Marker engraving
  • Funeral Director
  • Clergy
  • Organist, vocalist, or other musicians
  • Florist
  • Obituary
  • Clothing
  • Catering
  • Transportation/Travel
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Medical practitioners
  • Ambulance
  • Hospital/Nursing Home
  • Medications and drugs
  • Current and urgent bills (mortgage/rent, taxes, installment payments, etc.) 

It’s quite a lot to take on. Of course, you may not prefer all the things we’ve included. But even the most simplest of arrangements require time, energy, thought and money. And when someone is grieving, even minor tasks can feel overwhelming. If you’re thinking, “I don’t want to be a burden on my family, so I just won’t have a service at all,” you could be doing them more harm than good.

Funerals and memorial services have existed since the beginning of humankind for a reason – they’re rituals that gather community together in grief and provide comfort, support, communal acceptance of death and healing. Preplanning your own arrangements is truly a gift you can give your family. Losing someone they love will be difficult enough. By taking care of everything now, you can help make it a little easier.

You can learn more about the benefits of preplanning, or reach out to any of our funeral homes in Rochester (585-244-0770) or Webster (585-872-6380). We can help you or a loved one create a plan that reflects your personality and meets the needs of your family, and allows you to say goodbye exactly how you want.