Lisa Conway – Hometown News

Q: When my mother died, the final arrangements caused family turmoil. How can I prevent that for my kids?

A: I am sorry for the loss of your mother.  Life (and death) come at us fast and failure to plan can make a tough situation worse. You’ve just described a common family scenario, where no one knows what Mom or Dad wanted or who will pay for it.

Why pre-plan?

Although it might make your children uncomfortable to think about it, deciding now what will happen immediately after your death is actually a final gift for the people you leave behind.

AARP suggests you start by considering your options.

“Embalming or cremation? A funeral home service, graveside service or a DIY ceremony? Who attends? Will there be a viewing? In-ground burial, or a scattering of ashes?”

Planning in advance doesn’t necessarily mean paying in advance. Situations change and companies go out of business. Some experts recommend creating an account with accessible funds to be used for the event.

The cost of dying

In 2019, the national median cost for a funeral with burial was $7,500. The national median cost of adult cremation with viewing and memorial was $5,150.  An honorarium is also customary for any clergy.

AARP has more advice.

“Some funeral homes are reluctant to reveal prices, but if they resist, insist. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires them to quote prices over the phone or in person.”

Talk it over and write it down

Conversations about the future can be uncomfortable. Initiating the talk will make it easier on everyone. Putting together a pre-need plan can eliminate confusion and financial hardship for your family, while ensuring your wishes are met. Their minds will be at ease executing the plan they know you wanted.

Pick up a copy of the “Five Wishes” at One Senior Place. It is an excellent free tool to help you think through options leading up to, and after, the inevitable.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.comLisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.