Online Funeral Planning
When a loved one passes away and you are left in charge of the funeral, it’s normal for you to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. These problems and feelings are even further compounded when you’re far away or have other difficulties that keep you from getting to a funeral home and speaking with a funeral director. Fortunately, however, in today’s world, it’s possible to do a large chunk of the funeral planning online. All you have to do is find a funeral home that offers online funeral planning and then follow the steps laid out for you.
What Can Be Taken Care of Online?
Typically, with online funeral planning, you can do a lot of the “setting up” online. What is meant by this is that you can make decisions about what kind of funeral or other service you would like, when and where that service will be held, and what kind of products or services you will require. You can also provide the funeral home with all of the necessary information and documentation it will need to proceed with the funeral arrangements. That way, when you are finally able to speak with the funeral director in person, everything will be arranged and taken care of already, leaving you with less to deal with.
Information About the Deceased
Before you begin the process of online funeral planning, you will want to make sure you have gathered all required information about thedeceased. Much of this information you will know offhand, but double check just to be sure. For best results, you should know:
- The deceased’s full, legal name
- The date and time of death
- The deceased’s birth date
- The deceased’s state of birth
- The deceased’s social security number
- Names and ages of the deceased’s spouse
- Names and ages of the deceased’s parents
- Survivors who should be listed in the obituary and their current cities
- Information about the deceased’s military service, if applicable
A Word About Social Security Numbers
It is very common for funeral homes that offer online funeral planning to have you fill out a form with basic information about the deceased. All funeral homes will require your loved one’s social security number at some point during the funeral planning process. However, this number is very private and secure and, for your safety, should not be provided via online forms. Only provide a social security number in person or over the phone after you have thoroughly checked out the funeral home and know that it is a legitimate and trustworthy organization.
Decisions About the Service
Not only can you lay the general groundwork for a funeral service through online communication with the funeral home, but you can also let your service preferences be known as well. Talk with friends and family members prior to the online planning so that you can be sure you are providing the type of funeral that will make everyone happy and allow everyone to grieve properly. Furthermore, find out if the deceased left behind any last wishes for how he or she wanted to be honored in death and make sure you respect those wishes. Decisions you should ideally make before planning include:
- Whether you want an actual funeral service
- Whether the service will be held at the funeral home, at a church, at the graveside, or elsewhere
- Whether you want to have an open or closed casket (when applicable)
- Who will be allowed to attend the viewing if a viewing is scheduled
- Who the officiating clergy or other person will be
- Who the pallbearers will be
- Any flower/decoration preferences you may have
- Music preferences you may have
- What the deceased will be wearing
- Whether any jewelry or other items worn by the deceased will be buried or given to family
- The cemetery name and location
Unfortunately, paperwork and documentation is as much a part of death as it is of life. As such, you will likely be required to provide various forms of documentation to the funeral director. Some of these forms can be faxed in for your convenience. Also, your funeral director can let you know specifically what forms you will need and where you may be likely to find or get ahold of them. Some paperwork that you will likely be required to have includes:
- Any account statements belonging to the deceased
- Tax return forms
- Life insurance policy documentation
- Living trust documentation
- Beneficiary designations
- Real estate deeds
- Automobile/boat/other property titles
- Stock and bond certificates
- Loan or lease documentations
A Word About Scams
It’s impossible to believe, but there are people out there who will take advantage of you in your grieving state. While the online world offers a convenient way for you to plan for your loved one’s funeral, it also opens you up to scams and makes you vulnerable. To avoid losing money or having your deceased loved one’s identity stolen, you should make every effort to research a funeral home before providing any information whatsoever about your loved one or about the funeral and certainly before paying any type of money or fee to the funeral home. Legitimate funeral homes do not ask for money in the early stages of funeral planning.
Make sure that you can verify the location of the funeral home. Does it have a professional website? Is it listed as a legitimate business in the town where it claims to be? Are there reviews, news, or other verifiable information about the funeral home online? You can check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the funeral home actually exists and that it hasn’t had a lot of complaints filed against it.
It’s sad that you have to think about protecting yourself against fraud during this difficult time, but you do. Putting in the effort to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate funeral home, however, will be well worth it, as you’ll have the peace of mind you need to plan a proper funeral for your loved one.