Step-by-step funeral checklist

Step-by-step funeral checklist

This checklist will help grieving family members during the funeral planning process and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. 

coffin at funeral istock
Coffin at funeral / iStock

The thought of your funeral may seem quite grim - yet planning it yourself might be wise.

While you don’t have to have everything sorted down to a T, there are several steps you can take now to ensure that you don’t place unnecessary financial burden or stress on your family.

Making sure all your financial affairs are in order is the perfect final gift to your loved ones as it will provide them with guidelines and support at a time when they must come to terms with their loss.

Securing a funeral policy should be at the top of your list of priorities, according to financial services provider African Unity Life Limited’s head of client services, Pierre Schoeman.

“If you are working through an intermediary, like a funeral parlour, church group or Burial Society, then you as the policyholder should know who the policy underwriter is and make sure that it is a registered insurer with an FSP number,” he explains.

“Consider different funeral policies and choose the one that will suit your financial needs. Research the exact benefits the policy provides, who it will cover and whether it includes additional pay-outs. Also look at whether it covers all aspects of your funeral, so that you can make provision for the things your family may have to pay for, such as administration costs. Undertakers usually add different fees to their final cost. This would include obtaining the death certificate, storing your body and other services,” he adds.

READ: Expert advice on the importance of taking out a funeral cover for your child

Planning your funeral doesn’t stop at the policy, though. Once all the boxes are ticked, you’ll need to make a list of all the essential documents and information your family will need. Schoeman notes that one of the most important documents you need is a participation certificate which should list all relevant terms and conditions related to your funeral cover.

“This document is crucial, as it indicates exactly who and what is covered by the policy,” he explains.

“Often, when submitting a claim, people are told that the deceased was not covered by the policy - so insist on receiving a participation certificate once you have signed up for the policy.”

“You should also be aware of different waiting periods for different causes of death,” says Schoeman. “Find out if there’s a waiting period before receiving the pay-out,” he says. “It is common for insurers to pay out within 48 hours if the correct documentation is submitted to them timeously.”

“In the case of death due to natural causes, you will need to wait six calendar months from the date of inception of your policy,” he continues. “In the case of death resulting from an accident, there is no waiting period provided that you have paid your first premium, and in the event of a suicide, the waiting period for your funeral cover will be 12 calendar months from the inception date.

Equally important, is sharing policy details with a designated relative, preferably the nominated beneficiary, to make sure that they will have access to documentation such as your ID, marriage certificate, life insurance and funeral cover policies, and your will.

A last will and testament is a legal document in which you disclose who is to inherit your possessions after your death, and details such as whether you want a burial and need a coffin or are planning on being cremated. You would appoint an executor, who will make sure that your assets are divided according to your wishes. The executor will also evaluate the estate and the debt you leave behind.

They will settle any outstanding debt, then distribute the remainder, as per your final wishes. If you don't choose an executor, the court will appoint someone - usually a family member.

If you don’t know how to draft a will, you can approach a lawyer to help you. Banks also offer this service, at a cost. Alternatively, you can download an example or purchase a simple will form from a stationery shop. It is important to remember that you need to sign each page of the document, including the last page. It should also be signed by two competent witnesses.

It is, however, a good idea to get legal advice about drafting a will to make sure that all the legal requirements are met.

“If you have an account with a clothing retailer, check whether your debt is covered, in the event of your death,” Schoeman adds. All this information must be added to the checklist pack. 

READ: What you need to know about funeral cover – expert advice

Schoeman’s funeral planning checklist is as follows:

- Have all necessary documents filed and accessible to the designated family member.

 - Policy document or participation certificate.

- Copies of all relevant personal documents (including ID, marriage licence or divorce settlement, and last will and testament), and 

- A list of all debt and settlement for the debt.

Don’t only keep these documents in a safe place but also ask a family member or close friend to keep a copy with them.

Tell your family to make sure the relevant claim form is completed and all supporting documents, as required by the underwriter, are submitted as soon as possible. The sooner the claim form and supporting documents are provided to the insurer, the faster the claim can be processed and paid.

“Along with the checklist, also remember to pay your premiums every month,” urges Schoeman. He adds that keeping a record of your payments is just as important as you don’t want your family to be further traumatised by an unexpected financial crisis,” he concludes.

Lastly, should any of your information change, remember to update it with your insurer immediately.

Article source: Press Release by HWB Communications

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