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When Is the Right Time for Pre-Planning Cemetery Arrangements?

Like life insurance and wills, pre-planning funeral and cemetery arrangements isn't something people necessarily like to think about, especially at a younger age.

But, we need life insurance to protect our families. We need wills to protect our assets.

It's not the need to deal with salespeople or lawyers that makes those tasks difficult. It's the uncomfortable need to face the inevitability of death.

We have to accept this unpleasant reality that every human being shares when accepting these important responsibilities.

Why Should I Pre-Plan My Final Arrangements?

For those with some degree of familiarity with pre-planning final arrangements, they might view ironing out the end-of-life essentials as something they can deal with later. After all, pre-planning makes the most sense for terminally ill people or prudent retirees laying out their own legacies in older age, right?

Well, those are certainly situations when family members should collaborate on key decisions about funeral plans and cemetery arrangements to ensure their loved one is appropriately (and economically) memorialized according to their personal wishes. But, it doesn't diminish the importance of getting this endeavor under way much earlier in life.

Consider that of the 2.6 million or so annual deaths in America, more than 35 percent are the result of heart disease, strokes, illness and general accidents, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These can all be considered unexpected to some degree. It's a fact of life that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

So with that in mind, how early should you start examining pre-need funeral and cemetery arrangements?

When Should I Start the Pre-Planning Process?

If you have to put a number on it, you're likely looking in the 25 to 35 age range. That's when most women are becoming first-time mothers, according to 2013 data from the CDC. Many couples are getting married in that timeframe as well.

Both life milestones signal the introduction of family life and the addition of life insurance coverage and wills to your file of critical documents. Oft-ignored, but equally important, pre-planning final arrangements really forms a natural extension in terms of subject matter.

The purpose of pre-planning is to establish preferences like where you'd like to be remembered (cemetery location, family plots), what you'd like to do with your remains (burial, mausoleum, cremation) and how you'd like to commemorate your legacy (funeral services).

Consider that if you're like the 100 million U.S. adults (about 42 percent of the population) who have opted to donate organs, you've already taken one small step in this planning process.

Pre-Planning Is Not Pre-Paying

It's also important to note that pre-planning and pre-paying for your final arrangements are not mutually exclusive. While pre-planning can come with cost-saving measures like locked-in pricing and payment plan options as advantages, final expenses are not the main goal.

Pre-planning is about peace of mind for your family, who won't be forced to make hurried decisions under duress. It's about the comforting assurance that your wishes will be fulfilled.

Pre-need funeral plans and cemetery arrangements are not a final decision. It can change with your family's needs and any changes you decide to make over time, just like life insurance, wills and even investments.

And like those modern-day necessities, there are plenty of experts who can walk you through the process. No matter your age or circumstances, the caring staff at Woodlawn Cemetery can help you take the first step.