Preplanning Your Funeral

“It’s your funeral”

An old phrase, often said with a slow shrug to someone acting unwisely, was “It’s your funeral”, conveying that they would have to suffer the consequences of their ill-conceived act. 

What if we flip that a bit and recognize one day, it really will be your funeral. What would you prefer? How do you want your family and friends to gather to remember you? Let’s consider the benefits of preplanning your funeral. (For convenience, funerals, final arrangements, memorial services, etc., are all referred to as a funeral.) 

What are the benefits of preplanning?

Preplanning your funeral can include prepaying, which means that the cost of your funeral cannot increase. By preplanning you can protect your family from being among those that overspend on a funeral due to the emotional impact of a loved one’s death, a lack of understanding about the options available, or simply the sense of urgency in planning the funeral in a compressed timeframe. 

Preplanning gives you time to research and contact multiple providers. Decide what is best for you and your family, taking into consideration the price points of the services offered. “Funeral Rules” established by the FTC require that consumers be provided with accurate, itemized price information and other disclosures about funeral goods and services. The Rules also prohibit certain acts by funeral providers, such as saying that embalming or outer vaults are required. There may be good reasons for both of these services, but neither is always required. 

Preplanning ensures that your service will be the way that you want it, whether it is a simple memorial service, graveside or elsewhere, or a more elaborate traditional service. It ensures that your final arrangements will be as you prefer. Even better, no one can change them to what they think they should be.
Family disagreements can erupt during the emotional funeral planning process. Preplanning can help ensure that your family does not experience that unpleasantness. Preplanning also avoids indecision among family members or possible misgivings about decisions made. 

What should you do if you don’t preplan?

If you decide not to preplan your funeral, consider giving your health care power agent written instructions. An Illinois resident can direct their own body disposition and funeral arrangements in a legally binding document or designate an agent who is authorized to make decisions if no instructions are provided. In Iowa, an agent under a health care power of attorney will be able to plan your funeral if you specifically give them the power, preferably with reference to the appropriate code section, or a separate signed and witnessed authorization is attached to the health care power of attorney. Discuss with your attorney whether your health care power authorizes your agent to make your final arrangements if needed. 

Preplanning your funeral is not an unwise or ill-conceived act, and it’s unlikely you will get the slow shrug for having preplanned yours. It is a gift to your family, who likely will thank you for it, either now or later.

What’s next?

Contact Marie to talk about your options or to learn more at 563.388.2631 or

Marie Rolling-Tarbox
Marie R. Tarbox, JD Vice President & Trust Officer