“When I lost my mom, it was a very sudden death,” said Kimberly Kramer. “I’m a funeral director – I’ve been a funeral director for 22 years – and when I called the funeral director and said my mom passed away, I could not give him my mom’s date of birth. I couldn’t come up with other information as well.”

Kramer got a first-hand account of what it’s like to try to prepare a funeral when you’re grieving, and why preplanning could help relieve a family of certain burdens at such a time of crisis.

“There’s 125 decisions that have to be made when someone passes away,” said Kramer, who concentrates on preplanning for J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory Inc., Sharon. “A lot of them are little, and some are larger decisions that need to be made.”

Not all of those decisions have to be made ahead of time – a person can leave some decisions up to their loved ones – but the more that are settled, the less the family or the funeral home has to worry about, she said at a preplanning workshop in May at the White Rose Spaghetti House in Masury.

Preplanning can head off some of the disagreements between family members that arise, and the interpretation of your wishes that inevitably crop up.

“You may tell your children, you may tell your grandchildren, you may tell your spouse – they don’t listen,” Kramer said. “They DO NOT listen. They never want to think of something happening to a loved one.”


Even if you don’t settle on an extensive preplan, just having biographical information – including correct spellings – on file makes it easier when the time arises to prepare an obituary or apply for a death certificate, Kramer said.

The preplan process allows one to consider all the different types of funeral and burial options and preferences for a service – if you want one – and can take care of certain costs that may rise over time, such as copies of death certificates, obituaries and flowers.

“They (funeral home) do not upcharge those items,” she said. “Whatever they charge us is what we charge back to you. We just pay those bills. That way the family doesn’t have to write out 10 different checks when they’re going through this time.”

The preplan process also discusses payment options, and the funeral home can review your life insurance policies to see if they will still be relevant at the time they are needed, Kramer said.

Laws concerning funerals, Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits can change from state to state and even county to county. The funeral home would discuss relevant provisions where the person lives.

McGonigle invests the preplanning money into an insurance policy that can only be used for funeral expenses, with the interest going toward inflation.

Kramer added that preplanning payments are transferable to any funeral home in the United States or Canada, should the funeral home you preplan with go out of business.

“You would get your original investment, plus interest,” Kramer said.