SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – About 2.5 million people die in the United States each year, each leaving an average of five mourners.
Almost everyone will go through this, as well as the time-sensitive situation of making important and expensive decisions related to funeral arrangements.
“Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be even more stressful when there are financial issues or deeper family issues,” said licensed funeral director and embalmer Jennifer W. Torney of Baker McCullough Funeral Home & Cremation.
“Loss causes strong emotions for many. Imagine adding to that emotion that there are limited or no funds to work with.’
Torney said that makes the loss even more difficult for most families.
“Families can be irreparably broken by the stress and trauma of loss. Plans are put on hold until financial arrangements are made, causing more excitement and emotion for the family,” she said. “In some cases, families have had to go against the wishes of their loved ones due to financial concerns. This causes them deep anxiety, especially when a close relative who may have communicated their wishes has died.’
In Savannah, the cost of a traditional, full-service funeral can range from thousands of dollars to nearly tens of thousands of dollars, so planning ahead for your funeral expenses can be a smart choice that will help you avoid stress down the road.
Torney explains what pre-planning a funeral can look like financially.
“Pre-planning is valuable in that it achieves many things: peace of mind for the pre-planner and also for the family that arrangements have been made in advance.”
Torney said it also fixes prices at the time of pre-planning.
“If you pre-scheduled your services and paid for them in advance, even if you don’t go 15 years, the prices of all guaranteed items will be maintained, even if the price has tripled since then,” she explained.
It also lays out your wishes so there are no guesswork, Torney said.
“There is less stress for survivors because the choices are already made and laid out — in most cases there is little for the family to do other than plan the actual service,” she added.
For those loved ones left behind in a situation where a full-service funeral wasn’t financially planned, Thorney has some advice.
“Collect information from several funeral homes, find out about prices and services offered,” she said. “Make an informed decision that is appropriate for your situation and family. Know what you can afford and stick to it. Remember, there are ways to minimize the cost of a funeral or cremation.”
Thorney said you can save money by choosing a more economical casket, having a same-day visitation instead of the night before, providing your own registration book or memorial folders and posting the obituary only on the funeral home’s website.
Some families choose cremation as a more economical option out of necessity rather than a more traditional burial.
“I’ve seen it many times. But every case is different. Plans may have been made but never completed or paid for,” explained Thorney, who also said the pros of cremation include a long time to decide when and where to provide services, it is cost-effective and includes the ability to keep cremated remains nearby. until ready to scatter, bury or bury.
There are also downsides, such as cremated remains ending up in storage to be sold, or lost in the process of moving, etc.
Overall, Torney says it’s important to plan.
“Know what you want and at least tell your family what you want,” she said. “Be sure to find out about all insurance policies and keep them up to date. Keep all your documents in one place so they can be easily found as you go. Remember that certain policies may not pay out in the event of death – accidental, natural, etc.
She concluded: “For everyone living now, regardless of what you believe in, religiously or otherwise, there will be a passing time. Prepare for it as much as you can now.’