When Is the Right Time to Start Planning My Final Wishes?

time-to-planBenjamin Franklin once said that there are only two certainties in life — death and taxes.  And while most Americans have detailed financial plans, we avoid thinking of our mortality and what we want after we shed our mortal coil. But the truth is that any person over the age of 18 should have written instructions for the disposition of his or her body and final arrangements.

It’s Never Too Early to Plan

Whether we are blessed with long life or pass unexpectedly, death is a certainty. Preparing for our own death gives us the opportunity to make our final wishes known and spares our loved ones the stress and chaos of making arrangements during an already difficult time.

Control Costs

The average person will spend more on their final arrangements than most things purchased during their lifetime, with the exception of things like cars and homes. Also, like most things you pay for, costs will rise over time. When you preplan your final arrangements, you have the opportunity to compare prices and choose a service that will lock in today’s lower rates.

Choose How You Want to Rest

Which would you prefer, burial or cremation? The ceremonies and final disposition of your body should be personal choices you make while you’re able to consider the pros and cons of each. Some things that may influence your decision are family tradition, religious beliefs, emotional triggers, travel concerns, and cost.

This Plan Should Be Separate From Your Will

Your will should be the document you use to divide and distribute your property and directions for who should get custody of your children if they’re still young when you pass. Because final arrangements need to be made fairly quickly, your will may not be located and read for some time after your death. If the will is contested, this could take even longer.

Except in New Jersey and New Mexico, you can express your wishes for final arrangements and name the person you want to carry them out in a healthcare directive or other written document. The two states mentioned will require that you name this person in your will.

What to Include In Your Plan

While this is a personal decision that will likely be dictated by religious custom, preference, or your own whimsy, the information typically included in a document outlining final arrangements will be:

  • Whether you want to be buried or cremated
  • The name of the institution who has your plan on file or who you will want to handle these services
  • The type of casket or container you wish to be buried or cremated in and, if you’ve already made this purchase, instructions for its retrieval
  • The details for your preferred ceremony: funeral then burial, funeral then cremation, cremation then memorial service, etc.
  • The people you’d like to serve as your pallbearers
  • Where and when your family should bury, store, or scatter your ashes and any ceremonial details that accompany this event

Who Can Help Me Prearrange My Final Wishes?

Choosing an institution to handle your cremation or burial is likely the most important financial decision you’ll make. Many people join a memorial society that can help them find an honest local mortuary that won’t take advantage of their loved ones or charge unreasonable rates.

Neptune Society is the largest cremation society in the nation. Since 1973, our team has assisted families, their loved ones, and caregivers in carrying out final wishes with dignity and respect.

Get a free guide to cremation and find the answers to all your questions.


The Neptune Society is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan cremation services in advance, we are always available to assist you and your family.

Call 1-800-NEPTUNE (800-637-8863) today or contact us online to learn more.