A checklist helps avoid extra funeral-planning stress

This was originally published on Monday, September 22, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

The passing of a loved one is always a difficult and emotional time. Dealing with the funeral adds on extra anxiety and tension. It is hard to make funeral decisions when in this state. There are a lot of little details that need to be worked out, especially when it comes to the funeral. Creating a budget and a checklist will help you from adding any undue stress.

•  Venue: Most churches or places of worship charge to hold a funeral service on their premises. Usually the loved one or family member wants the funeral service at their place of worship so the location is usually not negotiable. If there is a choice in location, take the time to get quotes from as many venues as you can. If the loved one was not religious, talk to the funeral home about venues they can offer at a discount or as a package deal.

• Officiator: Sometimes the cost of the officiator is part of the cost for the venue. Occasionally the officiator may not have a set cost and will preside over the funeral by donations. If that is the case, ask around and find out what most people think is a good donation amount.

• Music: The cost of music can vary depending on what format of music is wanted. If the music is pre-recorded, the cost may be in purchasing or downloading the music. If a live choir or band is wanted, there will most likely be a cost to have them play. The music may also be included in the cost for the location of the funeral.

• Flowers: Pricing depends on how many and the type of flowers used. Often family members, co-workers/office or friends may also donate a wreath or bouquet as well. Some venues have volunteers that normally decorate the church or place of worship. You may have to purchase the flowers, but the work may be done at a donated price. Funeral homes often partner with florists that offer a discounted price or part of a bundled package.

• Video/pictures: Many of us want to document the funeral through video or pictures. Videographers or photographers can be pricey. Shop around for the best deals. If you have a family member or friend that is skilled in either, perhaps they would be willing to help out.

• Webcast: Technology has made it possible for loved ones or friends to be present at the funeral without a pricey trip. Some venues or funeral homes offer this service. Family members may not be able to make the funeral and being able to say goodbye may be worth the extra cost. If the venue offers the usage of their Wi-Fi or Internet, you may be able to use a smartphone or tablet to stream the funeral live as well.

• Funeral booklets: Printing prices can differ depending on the quantity printed, the number of pages, and if the booklet is printed in color. There are businesses that can create the booklet, but if you know someone who has decent computer skills, you may be able to pay for just the printing costs.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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