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Funeral planning: consider it part of your estate plan

Funeral planning should be part of everybody's estate planning process. That is especially the case for those who want more than the standard funeral. More and more, folks are choosing to do something more untraditional for their funeral. Part of this is possible because of more technology and a market that caters to people's wishes.

A recent Reuters article gave some tips on funeral planning. Among the interesting points made is that funerals are for the living, and funeral planning is meant to help people grieve the loss of a loved one. That is part of the reason why people are beginning to personalize their funeral plans. Doing so can be comforting for the one planning and, later on, for loved ones grieving their loss.

Funeral planning can be as detailed as the planner wishes. Important aspects to consider, though, are the disposition of the body. Cremation is becoming more and more popular since it is cheaper than a traditional funeral and burial, is easier to transport the remains, and become more accepted in many religions. Almost 41 percent of those who died in 2010 were cremated, compared to 15 percent in 1995. Cremated remains are typically stored in urns or scattered in a particular place. Sometimes people choose to have remains embedded in pottery or placed in lockets for family members.

Traditional burial has more options than it used to as well. Green burials, in which the body is not embalmed but allowed to decompose in the earth, are increasing in popularity. Caskets made from recycled materials are usually part of this process.

Some choose to be buried with certain personal items or pets, depending on the rules of the cemetery.

Setting aside money is a very important aspect of funeral planning. In our next post, we'll pick up on that topic, as well as what family should do when there is no funeral plan.

Source: Associated Press, "Funeral planning can save money, heartache," Tom Murphy, December 7, 2011.

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