• What Steps To Take When A Family Member Dies/Is Dying

    What Steps To Take When A Family Member Dies/Is Dying

    1. Try to plan everything in advance if possible. Grief makes dealing with loss hell. When my dad was told that he had 3 months to live, I went to the funeral home and planned everything beforehand.

    2. Try to get siblings on the same page. Family fights while planning funerals makes the process worse. The corollary to this is to have open dialogue with the loved one and know what their wishes are. This also ties into #3.

    3. Know where any life insurance policies and Social Security cards are kept. The funeral home will need this. Most of the time now, the funeral home notifies the Social Security Administration of the death to stop any kind of benefits. Also have an idea of how many death certificates you may need. Typically, the funeral parlor will order a few upfront when planning the funeral, with the idea that you can order more later on.

    4. There are ways to make the process cheaper:

    • a. Embalming is only required when having an open casket or flying the deceased to another location. Closed casket will be cheaper.
    • b. Hold a celebration of life elsewhere... a park, a restaurant, the church, etc. Give people the option to stand up and talk about the deceased and share their memories.
    • c. If your family member has served in the military, know where their DD-214 military discharge papers are. If you cannot locate them, contact VETERANS AFFAIRS. (VA) Burial in a military cemetery is FREE.
    • d. What is the cost of flowers bought straight from a flower shop vs from a funeral parlor?

    5. If you have time, caskets can be bought online for a fraction of the cost of the funeral home markup. Funeral parlors are required to accept them BY LAW.

    6. Funeral vaults may be required to bury the deceased. They go over top of the casket. Many times, they cost just as much as the casket itself.

    7. Other additional fees:

    • Newspaper obituaries: The more they run, the longer they are, and if they have to be run in more than one location will affect cost. You may want to shorten them as a result.
    • Cemetery opening and closing fees: It's not free to bury Aunt Tilly. The cemetery gets paid to open the grave.
    • Cemetery plats: They cost money to buy the space for the deceased.
    • Cemetery markers: The marble used to mark the grave costs money. Be sure to find out what the requirements are from the cemetery. Also, shop around for price and ask the funeral home if they have any discount programs going with the local monument company. Many times, they have coupons for the family. Also, the more designs on the marker, the more expensive they become.
    • Placing of the cemetery markers and requirements of the cemetery: Many cemeteries require a concrete pour with the stone placed on top, so the stone will not settle. This concrete cost is in addition to the cost of the marker itself.
    • Extra death certificates. The cost is determined by the state of the deceased, not the funeral home.

    8. Unless you have a funeral home that your family has worked with for YEARS (aka a long term, established relationship where you are friends with the owners), know that funeral homes do NOT extend credit or want everything paid within 30 days. Have a plan for payment before you go in. If you are not made of money, ask for their INDIGENT plan. They will show you the cheapest ways to carry all this out.

    9. Be sure to ask for a cash discount if you are paying in cash upfront. I have received 5% or 10% off the services that the funeral home actually provided. (I have had to pay for more than one funeral.) Note: this discount will not apply to the services that you pay for upfront that are provided by someone else, such as the newspaper listing.

    Legacy Drawer info will help you in dealing with the loss of a loved one:


    10. Uncle George may have opinions as to how you should spend money towards the funeral. Unless he's footing the bill, remember to exercise boundaries. YOU choose how YOUR money is spent.

    11. Notify employer of deceased, if applicable. Keep in mind that it is entirely possible that deceased had life insurance through work.

    Hopefully, before this happens, the deceased had bought life insurance. Remember that as funeral costs go up, you'll be able to afford LESS with that policy. My mother died with only a $5K policy in place, leaving her husband to pay for the remaining costs of the funeral, plats, and monument stone.

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