Why planning your funeral is the best gift you can give your loved ones

Why planning your funeral is the best gift you can give your loved ones

Published on 3rd March, 2021 at 07:11 am

Planning your funeral is something you might not benefit from, but your family will. Here’s how to do it so that you and your family have peace of mind.

Most people don’t like to think about dying, nor do they enjoy discussing their inevitable death with their family. But planning your funeral is important. This is because it will relieve your loved ones of some of the burdens during their time of loss, giving you peace of mind.

In South Africa, around R10 billion is spent annually on funerals and the rituals associated with them. The average cost of a burial or memorial service is R26 875. This, according to statistics by SunLife insurers in the UK, makes South Africa the fourth most expensive country to pass away in when compared to the average salary. “Dealing with death is a daunting task, but knowing that all arrangements are done as per your wishes makes life a bit easier for family members,” says David Thomson, senior legal advisor at Sanlam Trust. “Planning also helps loved ones to deal with your passing without having the added stress of locating documents, worrying about costs and contacting service providers trying to get information about policies.”

Reality Access for Fedhealth members get funeral cover worth R5 000, at no cost. The cover extends to the main member, spouse and children up to the age of 21. Find out more here.

Arrange a family meeting

Before you get to the planning stage, you should talk to your family about the eventuality of your passing. “To open the discussion about death and the logistics associated with it, you need to help your family understand that being prepared for this reality will assist those surviving,” explains clinical psychologist from Johannesburg Psychologists, Charity Mkone. “It will give them the space and energy to mourn and celebrate and, eventually, process their grief. In the absence of a ‘normal’ grieving process, the risk of psychological distress – or complicated bereavement – is compounded.”

Make a plan

Not only can planning your funeral reduce the psychological impact on your loved ones, but it can prevent legal problems, too. By documenting your wishes, you are able to guide your family as to whether you want to buried or cremated. Something to keep in mind is that wishes do not necessarily have any legal standing. “Some people make the mistake of putting these wishes in their will. However, it is not the right place,” says Thomson. “This is because a will is often only read after the funeral. A final-arrangements document should, instead, be drafted and these desires recorded. These wishes must also be communicated to your family members.”

The final arrangement document must include:
● Your wishes with regards to your remains.
● The details of the funeral home if you have a policy that offers burial services or cash payouts.
● Funeral service provider information, such as contact details and policy numbers.
● Instructions around the funeral itself, such as which relatives should be informed about your passing and what role you want them to play during your memorial.

“Make sure that your designated agent is aware of and willing to undertake their responsibilities and let them know where they can find the document stating your funeral requests,” recommends Thomson.

Read more about how to arrange a funeral, here.

Funding your funeral

Planning your funeral doesn’t just involve coming up with your wishes for the ritual itself. It is also going to require some saving! “There are two ways to save for a funeral,” explains Nicki Blignaut, Senior Financial Planner at 2one2 BlueStar. “They are either saving up and using a lump sum or purchasing a funeral policy. And they both come with their pros and cons. The problem with the former is that you don’t know when you are going to die. If it happens in a year, will you have been able to save enough money to cover the costs?”

This is why funeral policies are so popular. But that doesn’t mean that they are risk-free. “If you purchase a funeral policy at 40 and live until 90 you could probably have paid for the funeral many times over,” explains Blignaut. “One way to overcome this is by taking Sanlam’s cash back with the funeral cover. At least that way if you don’t die within 15 years you get all your premiums back.”

The cost of an unexpected funeral can add to the family’s grief. Be fully informed of what a final farewell to a loved one can cost, here.

The idea of planning your own funeral may seem morbid, but the peace of mind that comes with it is worth it, in more ways than one. “A lot of people shy away from talking about death, as they see it as foreboding and negative,” says Mkone. “It is important to note, however, that talking about something actually makes it better. Discussions about death, impending or not, strip away the heaviness as well as the powerful grip that death can have on us all.”

Coming to terms with the thought of your death is incredibly difficult, but organising your funeral shouldn’t be. That’s why Reality Access for Fedhealth members get free funeral cover valued at R5 000 to ease your family of the financial burden of arranging a fitting send-off.Sanlam is a Licensed Financial Services Provider.

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