The executor whose decedent has pre-paid his funeral and cemetery expenses is lucky indeed. When the decedent’s wishes are made clear, there is no second-guessing by friends and family as to what the decedent “would have wanted”. In truth, it’s rare that a decedent will provide the details of their Penang funeral arrangements. When details are not provided, a family member or executor must step in to make the arrangements.
If you’ve never planned a funeral before, the choices available to you can be daunting. The commercial funeral industry has an intimidating presence. The somber and final atmosphere of a funeral home is not conducive to comparison shopping. Most first-time funeral shoppers are bewildered by the decisions that must be made at the time of death. Executors and next-of-kin are not sure of the “right” thing to do for the deceased. The emotional trauma of bereavement, lack of information and time pressures place the executor at a disadvantage in making funeral arrangements.
First and foremost, funerals are family matters. The religious traditions and family preferences may not be known to the executor, so the family should always have the first option to make the funeral decisions. However, when a family member is involved in the funeral, they may be emotionally distraught and have difficulty making decisions. The executor should be present to assist and to make sure the family does not fall prey to pushy funeral directors. When no family member “steps up to the plate” regarding the funeral, the executor should take charge. A word of caution to executors when family members refuse to be involved in the funeral: be sure to log all conversations. If a family member objects to the way you handled the final arrangements, you will have a clear record stating who you spoke with and what the outcome of the conversation was.
Funerals happen with such haste that many of the options available for final arrangements are not even considered. At its core, a funeral should accomplish two things: provide for the timely disposition of the body and commemorate the life that was lived. These two functions do not have to occur simultaneously. Do not feel pressured to have a service right away.
Two Types of Services
By separating the “disposition” and “memorial” functions of a funeral service, many more options become available to the executor. A funeral service usually takes place within days of death; the body is always present at a funeral. A memorial service is held without the body, and after disposition of the body. A memorial service can be delayed as long as is needed, to meet the needs of the family. Scheduling a memorial service for a future date enables out-of-town guests to take advantage of discount airfare and hotel rates. There is time for thoughtful planning when the “memorial” function is delayed.
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