Pre-planning and Pre-paying, Part 2: Family Dynamics and Funeral Planning

Pre-planning and Pre-paying Family Dynamics and Funeral Planning

by Ron Threadgill • January 24, 2020

Perhaps the most challenging portion of pre-planning is the challenge of involving your extended family in your personal choices. Here are the most common difficulties:

  1. While it is important to you, your spouse or life partner wants nothing to do with pre-planning.
  2. Your extended family informs you of the choice they (the family) require.
  3. A plan is desired that is beyond your financial capacity or the financial capacity of your extended family.
  4. Your family decides, regardless of your pre-plan, they will change the plan when death occurs.
  5. At the time of death, the pre-planned decisions and documents are not accessible.


Here are some suggestions on how to mitigate each of these difficulties:

  1. Perhaps the most difficult input needed is from your spouse or life partner. For individuals. If you are married or have a registered spouse, your spouse is the next of kin and has legal authority at the time of death. If you are not married or do not have a registered domestic partner BUT are living together, it is important you understand that your partner does not have legal authority as next of kin to make disposition choices (even if you have or share children under or over the age of 18). The disposition and other related decisions revert to the legal next of kin and can become a confrontational issue. (*See definition of “next of kin” below.)
  2. It is very difficult within family dynamics when an individual or individuals (family members)  inform you they have no intention of carrying out your final wishes per your wishes and instructions. At this point you may seek legal support from an attorney, engage a guardian or conservator, and also set aside funds as “irrevocable.”  If you are dependent on your family to pay for services at the time of disposition, you will need to have further discussions about choices.
  3. When final wishes exceed financial resources, it becomes a default decision which your surviving family or representative can make changes to according to their budget.
  4. Unless your decisions are clear and legal documents supporting your decisions are in place there is no way of knowing or enforcing your decision. This is why making pre-planned arrangements are so helpful and important! To prevent changes to your decisions, you should include instructions in your will and the name of the funeral home. You should also have a copy of your will on file at the funeral home, and include a copy of your pre-paid plan. (This is not legal advice; contact your attorney for specific instructions and details.)
  5. Documents, if kept in a safe deposit box, should have at least one family member as a signer authorized to access the safe deposit box. If your documents are kept at home, a family member should know where you keep them and have access to that location.


Making arrangements beforehand gives you time to consider all your options and truly make arrangements that are unique and important to you. There are many questions we hear on a regular basis when we discuss pre-planning and pre-paying. A pre-planning professional can help you think through the options, navigate the challenges, and determine how to communicate it with your loved ones. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Or you can get started with our pre-planning tool.


* The definition of NEXT OF KIN  is: “Spouse by marriage or registered domestic partner, children over the age of 18, parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, nephews/nieces.” An executor of the estate typically does not have legal authority to make decisions regarding human remains unless they are the only person involved and become a personal representative. Those with a POA (Power of Attorney) only have authority to make arrangements prior to death – once death has occurred there is no one alive granting authority for the POA to make decisions for the deceased thus the POA is no longer in place.


In Part 3 of our series we will discuss “Selecting a Funeral Home, a Cemetery, and Type of Payment Program.” Are you wondering why you should consider pre-planning your funeral? Find out in Part 1 of this series!


Ron Threadgill is a Funeral Director and co-owner of Threadgill’s Memorial Services LLC in Beaverton, Oregon, with over 20 years’ experience in the Funeral and Pre-planning industry. He has an extensive Estate Planning background and understands the variables of ethical final expense planning and how it fits into an estate. He has had an Oregon Insurance License for almost 25 years and previously held a Securities 6 & 63 license.

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