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Pre-Planning Your Funeral Helps to Prevent Family Conflict

October 15, 2019

The death of a loved one is a difficult time that can bring up strong emotions and possible disagreements over aspects of the funeral arrangements such as whether the deceased should be buried or cremated, who should bear the costs of the funeral, or what type of funeral service should be held. The best way to avoid family conflict at such a stressful time is to pre-plan your funeral to let your loved ones know your wishes.

Photo credit: Lisa Young/

“One of the more important benefits of advance funeral planning is that it helps with family relationships. There is often a natural conflict between what type of funeral arrangements one desires for herself and what type of funeral arrangements her family may want or need for themselves,” said Joseph Reardon, Vice President for Community Development and Advance Planning. “Once a person dies, whatever ceremonies that occur have no impact on the deceased at all, the comfort or pain is felt only by those who survive. Yet, people can have very strong feelings about their own arrangements. Speaking with family members and then completing advance planning will spare families the burden of having to make difficult decisions at a difficult time.”

Making funeral arrangements when a funeral is not pre-planned can add stress for many families at an already difficult time. However, pre-planning can ease some of the strain on families and other loved ones when it’s time to make the funeral arrangements. Here are a few ways that pre-arranging your funeral helps to prevent family conflict.

Time to Think Clearly

After a person dies, many decisions must be made relatively quickly. Family members don’t have the luxury of time to compare services, facilities and prices. But when you pre-plan your own funeral, you can take the time necessary to deliberate on the myriad of decisions around your funeral and final disposition when you are thinking clearly and have the time to consider your choices without pressure.

Pre-planning can make the whole process easier because you have time to ask questions, consider options and make decisions based on your family’s needs and values.  The first step is to meet with your funeral director. The meeting typically takes about an hour and gives you the opportunity to discuss your wishes in as much or as little detail as you like. And you don’t have to make all the decisions at once. You may find it becomes much easier to make certain decisions after meeting with your funeral director who can provide more information.

Peace of Mind

People decide to pre-plan for a variety of reasons, but the greatest benefit of advance funeral planning is peace of mind. Knowing that your wishes are documented and that your family and loved ones will not have to make those decisions on your behalf takes the stress of making funeral arrangements away from those left behind.

“I often share with families the experience my family had when my mother-in-law died,” said Reardon. “While the financial benefits of advance planning were helpful, the fact that the ‘business’ side of the arrangements were complete gave us the peace of mind we needed to focus solely on how we could enjoy the support of our family and friends in creating truly personal and meaningful ceremonies. This made all the difference in the world for our family.”

Covering Costs

One of the most common reasons for family conflict after the death of a loved one is the costs associated with a funeral and final disposition. While pre-payment is never required when pre-planning a funeral, many people find it helpful to get an idea of costs in advance at a time when they are not overwhelmed by emotion and can think clearly. If they so choose, they can pre-pay the funeral home to be held in trust.

Pre-paying your funeral means that costs are covered ahead of time which alleviates the financial strain that is often put on families and allows them more time to heal.

At Keohane, advance planning can save money through our cost protection program and through the irrevocability option protecting the funds from the high costs of long term healthcare. Keohane has been on the forefront of the advance planning movement for many years. We are fortunate to be the only funeral home on the South Shore offering a full time Certified Preplanning Consultant who has extensive experience with long term care and Medicaid issues.

Discussing funeral arrangements may be difficult, but pre-planning gives you the chance to tell your loved ones what you want ahead of time in order to avoid confusion or conflict for those left behind.

To discuss pre-planning or our cost protection program with one of our knowledgeable funeral directors, please contact Joe Reardon, Vice President for Community Development and Advance Planning at Keohane Funeral Homes at (617) 773-3551.

1 Comment

Elle Jones

10/07/2023 at 2:55 pm

You made a fantastic point about how peace of mind is the main advantage of funeral preparation in advance. Making funeral preparations becomes less stressful for those left behind when they are aware of your desires and that your family and loved ones won't have to act on your behalf. My aunt would benefit from this since she became overwhelmed handling my uncle's burial service after he passed away. She wants everything to be ready for her when she dies because of this. She can begin pre-planning her funeral as soon as she reads this piece, so I'll be sure to share it with her.

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