Help Planning Cremation
August 7, 2007 3:40 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I are doing estate planning. What's the best way to pre-arrange cremation?

We're filling out our Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, and so on, and now we're trying to make the "final arrangements."

We both were particularly inspired by handling my father's funeral arrangements last month. My parents had pre-arranged his and my mother's funerals when they retired, knowing that they intended to remain in the same city for the rest of their lives. When he passed away, all I had to do was give the hospice the name of his mortuary. Then when we arrived in town, there were just a few final decisions to be made. Summing up, he made it easy on us, and we'd like to make it easy on those we leave behind.

We've both decided that we want to be cremated and that we want an informal non-religious memorial gathering in lieu of a funeral. But we don't know if we'll be living here for years to come, so we're reluctant to make "local" arrangements like my parents did. We're also don't know what is really the best way to shop and compare and consider these services. Where to begin...?

I've looked at the web sites of the Neptune Society,, and even Funeral Depot (ugh, the name). But we don't feel confident in what we're doing. Any first hand stories or guidance (paging ColdChef?) would be appreciated.
posted by Robert Angelo to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
well, as with a will, you'll have to update it as your situation changes. get your plans in order for where you are now (just in case one of you gets hit by a bus tomorrow) and then all you'll have to do if you move is find a new mortuary. just put it on the list of to-do's like finding a new bank.

good opportunity to get your living wills and powers of attorney in order, as well. if your partner is not a legal spouse, it's especially important to document everything.

finally, as with organ donation, etc, the key is communication. make sure both of you know where the plan is, and make sure your next of kin does, to.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:17 PM on August 7, 2007

Thank you, thinkingwoman. To clarify, my parents had actually paid a couple thousand dollars in the late 1970s to "pre-pay" almost all their funeral expenses. The cost of my father's funeral in today's dollars would have been $6000 to $8000, if they had not paid years ago, chosen then caskets, etc, etc.

What we want to do now is make a similar pre-arrangement plan (except with cremation) so that our survivors won't have to worry about that later, including the financial aspects. This includes making arrangements with pre-payment that are, in fact, "transportable" if we move or that handle extra costs should one of us die when traveling away from home.

Thus, this is beyond the scope of just choosing a mortuary. We actually want to sign the contracts and pay the money.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:27 PM on August 7, 2007

Is there a memorial society in your area? You can join this sort of non-profit society and gain access to preferred pricing and funeral service planning. I used one for my grandfather's funeral 2 months ago (he wanted a Catholic graveside burial), but I could just have easily gone with a cremation service. It saved us about 60%.
posted by acoutu at 5:13 PM on August 7, 2007

Ditto the memorial society suggestion. Also, I'd be very cautious about pre-paying, especially since there's a chance the mortuary would go out of business and take your pre-paid money with it.

You could always put the money you want to set aside for the funeral/cremation costs in a high-interest savings account, and make the account joint with a trusted (younger) family member. The family member would have ready access to the funds and could use them for paying any funeral expenses. The interest growth would be adequate to keep up with any inflationary cost increases - the $2000 that your parents paid in the 1970s, assuming 30 years of growth at 5%, would grow to around $9000.
posted by gwenzel at 7:11 PM on August 7, 2007

Good thinking, gwenzel, though we don't have a "younger family member" we would want to take that responsibility. FWIW, my mother is still alive. That ~$2000 they spent back in the 70s will probably translate to over $15000 worth of funeral expenses.

I'm also aware that the Neptune Society is almost nationwide, with lots of local affiliates, although they appeared to be more expensive than some other options I looked at online. Has anyone used their services?
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:17 PM on August 7, 2007

(paging ColdChef?)
Sorry. Batteries on my pager must have died. Feel free to email me with any specific questions.
posted by ColdChef at 7:35 AM on August 20, 2007

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