Save your family thousands of dollars and painful hassles.

Consider a total hypothetical for just a second. You die. It might happen someday, right?

Let’s say for some reason you die, outlandish as that might seem. Presumably you’ll be leaving behind not just a body but you’ll also leave behind people close to you who are going to have to deal with all the messiness that comes with a death.

Among the zillions of other details, your family or someone close to you will need to arrange a funeral costing $7,000 to $10,000 on average not including grave site, marker, and the actual costs of burying you. All that’s probably going to cost close to $15,000, maybe $20,000, once they’re done. Consider that your family is already in pain. This tough time will be even worse if they have no idea what your wishes were.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if, for a couple grand, your family could dial an 800 number to have your body picked up, cremated, and then brought back a couple days later in an urn? For a fraction of the cost of traditional burial arrangements, you can set things up so they can do just that. Which means that if that time comes…well, let’s be honest, when that time comes… your family will know your wishes, will have most of the necessary expenses and logistics taken care of, and can focus on dealing with both their grief and the many other tasks they’ll have to deal with.

It’s all pretty simple to set up but there are three essential steps to make sure this plan works out as expected without your very valuable presence there to make it happen.

Step 1: Talk to your family

This is probably the hardest part but it’s likely to be a lot easier if you do it when you are healthy and the topic is not an urgent one. If you’re not critically ill, maybe you can make it quick and keep the discussion hypothetical and light: ‘This is what I want to happen. Any objections? Thank you and have a nice day.’

On the other hand, you must remember that what happens after your death is for your survivors, not for you. Yes, it was your body or at least it had been for some number of years and that should count for something but, still, your survivors are going to have a lot of grief and financial issues to work through and the time immediately after your death will be important for them, not for you.

Here are some key topics to cover:

  • Is your family willing to accept cremation or are you just wasting your time with this plan?
  • Is there anything special you want done with the ashes? If so, you should be very specific about those wishes.
  • Is there anything special you’d like them to do for a memorial? Home memorial services are becoming more and more common. This might be an option you want your family to consider.

Once everything is established, be sure to write it down and store it some place where it can be secure and easily found when the time comes, such as

Step 2: Select a service

Google the words ‘cremation society’. This will list a bunch of good options both local to you and national. Regardless of who you select, there are more things to consider than just price.

  • Make sure the service can be transferred to a new location if you move.
  • If you travel a lot, check if the service covers everything if you die overseas.
  • Be sure they’re an established and reputable organization. Depending on your state’s laws, you could lose your money if your selected provider goes out of business.

Another feature that might be important to you is the ability to plan now and pay later. This way you can get everything set up with the provider of your choice so your family has everything they need, including an understanding of your wishes, to proceed with the choice you want at the price you want them to pay. Most cremation societies expect payment in advance or financing but you can find services that will allow you to pre-plan without pre-paying.

Once everything is set up and ready to go, you’ll have a contract. You need to be sure this contract is easily available to your family so be sure to store it in a safe place where you know your family can find it. Of course, is, without a doubt, the best option for this.

Step 3: Make sure your family has access to this information.

None of this will do your family any good at all unless they have this information.

First, write it down. Here are some critical pieces of information they should know.

  • What phone number should they call to get your body and take care of the cremation? What is the name of the company?
  • What are your wishes for your ashes? Is there anything special you want them to do for a memorial?
  • Who should be invited to your memorial or know that you have passed? There are probably people, old friends and far flung family, who will feel hurt or saddened if they find out you’re gone from your Facebook page. Be sure you’ve listed these people who might otherwise be forgotten.

Now, be sure your family can find all this information.

There are a few good ways to share this information but none better than Just go sign up and take the ten minutes or less to put this information into a secure online vault so you know they have or will get the information. With AfterVault, all this information will be organized and encrypted and available only to you or, if you wish, those closest to you from any computer you can sign in to. Perhaps most importantly, we can check on you periodically and alert your family if we think something has happened to you.