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NewsA small piece of planning can make a big difference to your final act

A small piece of planning can make a big difference to your final act

I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to live your life but forgive me if I give a little advice about something we all have in common and is very simple- what happens after we die.

There’s plenty people tend to avoid around this already, such as making a proper will, but I’m more interested in how active we are in making choices about our interment be that burial or cremation.

You might be aware of late of various stories about the poor practices in the funeral industry brought to light by consumer group CHOICE and ABC’s Four Corners.

While some of the details are shocking to hear, the same question remains - what should we do to ensure we have the funeral we want, deserve and can afford?

The fact you have read this far and not succumbed to a fear of even thinking about this subject is a plus, sadly too many people put their head in the sand and ignore it.

Like trying to book a flight on Christmas Eve, last minute funeral arrangements can be costly, frustrating and limiting in choice.

The more you think, write down and wisely store the details about what kind of send-off you and your family and friends want, the more likely you are to get it.

I’m not talking so much here about what music or readings or the kind of beer you’d like served but more about the often-overlooked basics such as burial or cremation or maybe something else?

There’s an upswing of various community groups, like the Salvation Army, offering lower cost and more down to earth funeral services.

Today you can buy cut price coffins at Costco or BYO a casket to the funeral directors.

Even David Bowie opted for a very low cost, no-frills service called a direct cremation with no funeral service.

There’s also a growing demand for greener funerals all around the world which tend to let nature do its work in the time-honoured way. Certainly more people are looking critically at cremation because of the energy used and the emissions going up the chimney.

Whatever you choose it’s worth doing a little research and let others know. You can pre-plan and even pre-pay for funerals but beware of funeral insurance which doesn’t offer much value.

A colleague died after a long illness last year and after learning they hadn’t made any plans, I offered to help. I was able to put them onto a reliable funeral director who handled everything to their satisfaction.

So do think about it and make some plans. Share with your family. Talk about it. Death can be distressing enough without our families coping with second guessing what kind of funeral we’d have appreciated—if any at all.

I’m opting for a plain pine box. Burial in the city is costly but venture outside to some beautiful old cemeteries and it can be more affordable.

There’s no choice we are going to die but there’s a multitude of options best considered beforehand as to how we’d like our mortal remains to be treated.

PS For the past five years I have sat on the board of a state-based regulator in this area Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW. This is my advice not theirs.

Any information contained in this communication is general advice, it does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs.

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