Here’s Why Funeral and Estate Planning Should Be Among Your New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, December 18, 2023

The decisions we make in funeral and estate planning shape our legacy of love and deliver unparalleled peace of mind.

New Year’s resolutions are the things we vow to do to better ourselves in the coming year. While they often focus on things like exercising more or eating healthier, planning for the future has its place, too. Two smart things you can do to ensure a better future are establishing an estate plan and a funeral plan. While it can be unsettling to think about your own demise, all too often, people put off estate and funeral planning until it’s too late.

Please read on as we explore six important questions and answers about these essential end-of-life preparations. 

1.     What does estate planning involve?

Estate planning is the process of detailing how your assets will be managed during your lifetime and who will inherit your estate once you have died. This plan is comprised of a will and several other legal documents. When constructed properly, it can minimize taxes, legal fees, court costs, and stress.

2.     I have few assets and they are of little value. Do I still need an estate plan?

The short answer is yes, because regardless of its size, nearly everyone has an estate. It is comprised of everything you own, including your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and personal possessions. Whether your estate is massive or very small, you can’t take it with you when you die so it’s wise to outline how you wish your assets to be distributed.  

3.     What happens if I pass away without an estate plan?

While most Americans believe that estate planning is important, only 33% of adults in the U.S. have documented their end-of-life plans. If you should pass away without a will, the probate laws of the state in which you reside when you die determine how your assets will be distributed. That’s why it’s essential to start planning your future now, so that unintended beneficiaries don’t benefit from your assets and create an additional burden for your family at an already difficult time.

4.     What are the elements of a proper estate plan?

In addition to detailing how your assets should be bequeathed through a will or living trust, it also takes into account the management of your financial and health considerations if you should become incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney outlines who you want to make your financial decisions on your behalf should you become debilitated. Without this document, no one will have the authority to step in and handle financial matters like the payment of bills. The Healthcare Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you name someone as your healthcare decision-maker in the event that you can’t make choices yourself. A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive, outlines your wishes regarding medical care if you should become incapacitated, terminally ill, or unable to communicate. Planning your estate will also help you organize your records and ensure that your beneficiary designations are correct.

5.     What are the advantages of preplanning my funeral?

Planning ahead relieves the burden on your loved ones at a difficult and emotional time. It also gives your family direction regarding your funeral or memorial service preferences so they can feel confident that they are giving you the perfect final farewell.

6.     What things should I include in my funeral plan?

The elements of your funeral plan are entirely up to you. It can be very general or extremely detailed. If you wish, you can outline virtually every facet of your funeral or memorial service in your plans, such as:

  • Choose burial or cremation
  • Select the type of casket or urn you would prefer
  • Choose the type of service you want
  • Indicate the funeral home
  • Designate pallbearers
  • Choose the music and readings for your service
  • Outline your preferences for the repast

With these properly prepared plans in place, your family will be protected and your mind will be at ease. It is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and those you love. Be sure to contact a qualified law firm or estate planning attorney for guidance with your legal documents. For your assistance with your funeral plans, our knowledgeable, compassionate funeral directors are always here to help.

As we approach 2024, we hope you will look to the future with clarity and hope. Funeral and estate planning are powerful tools that allow you to define your legacy in a way that resonates with you.

If you have questions about advance funeral planning or wish to make arrangements, we are here for you. Please contact us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African-American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at

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