How to Plan Your Own Funeral

The best way to plan your funeral is to do it yourself, even if you won’t be there. Your loved ones will be eternally grateful.

(Image credit: Smileus)

Americans are rethinking how they observe their demise. Not so long ago, a proper funeral consisted of a viewing (usually with an open casket) or visitation one day, followed by the funeral service another day, followed immediately by the procession to the cemetery. But last year, nearly half of Americans who died were cremated, according to the Cremation Association of North America, and the number is expected to keep growing. That allows families to forgo the traditional trappings and hold a memorial event whenever, wherever and however it suits them.

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Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.