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Your Family, The Funeral: Choosing Roles and Obligations

  • Oct-17-2013
  • Richard Reich
Funeral Roles and Obligations

Nothing is more difficult than trying to deal with funeral arrangements among family members when you’re grieving over the loss of a loved one in the family. Everyone experiences grief and pain in different ways, and sometimes even the family’s acknowledged leader might hesitate to lead after a death.

Compounding the stress is the high average costs of funerals. In 2012, the average funeral costs was upwards of $7,045, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Add in other ancillary costs like newspaper site obituaries, a resting vault, flowers and catering and you could easily see that number rise above $8,000.

But through the grief and the costs, old family squabbles might come up while deliberating over simple tasks like arranging a funeral service, writing an obituary, planning a memorial or going through the deceased’s financial situation. When a loved one is lost, it’s tough to get everyone together under these circumstances. But come together they must, whether it’s to celebrate a great life or mourn a loss too soon. Here are some insights into managing those roles and obligations.

Choosing Roles

What are specific things that family members can do, especially if there have been heated disagreements in the past? It’s up to the leader of the clan to set the roles. That might mean choosing the eldest offspring of the deceased to lead the family roles. Identify where family members can fit in best. For instance, at my father’s death two years ago, I wrote and compiled his life story, along with photos, in a pamphlet to hand out at the funeral ceremony. It started as the obituary, but many online sites charge exhorbitant fees for more than just basic information on a dead person and immediate family.

Removing Online Accounts

After certain deaths, family members should appoint someone to go online and begin the process of updating social accounts with news of a death, change the site into a living online memory, or delete the files. Managing the deceased’s persons accounts is part of this management. Another is using malware removal methods to scrub the deceased’s online identity to ensure no foul play with social security numbers, voting records or similar scams down the line.

In the U.S, according to the Wall Street Journal, a total of five states (as of Jan 2013) had passed laws giving estate executors power over a person’s digital assets. Indiana, Idaho, and Oklahoma have passed laws that include rights to social networks and blogging accounts, while Connecticut and Rhode Island laws cover only email. Google also has an account tool called Inactive Account Manager that lets active users set up their account for particular uses after they die or no longer use the account. Users alive today can designate trusted spouses or close friends to receive their account information after dying.

Burial and Cremation

Prior to finalizing funeral arrangements, the family must choose between a burial or a cremation. Some non-religious families are sensitive to cremation. For instance, an open-casket funeral gives some a sense of closure and the chance to say goodbye. But in deeply religious families, there are choices to be made that have both religious and sentimental implications. Catholics, for example, discourage cremation over burial whereas Buddhist and Hindu cultures mandate the body be cremated.

Understand what the deceased had indicated in any kind of will or last testament. If the death was sudden, and no will is ready, the family leader should gather everyone and discuss the matter. ┬áLet everyone’s voice be heard and don’t dismiss any option. In the end, everyone wants what’s best for their departed loved one and the best decision will prevail.

To make matters easier for your loved ones in the event of your passing, you should have a life insurance policy in place that, minimally, will cover funeral expenses.  Visit LifeInsure.com today for your free, no-obligation quote.

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