Gen Xers: It's Not too Soon to Start Thinking About Burial Planning

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According to Pew Research, 53% of the members of Generation X are not confident about having enough money for retirement. If you were born between 1961 and 1981, you’re a Gen Xer. And if like most Gen Xers you’re concerned about finances, this article is designed to help you plan for the future with a topic you may not have ever considered before.

While many Gen Xers say paying for their children's college education is a prime concern, they should also be thinking about their own financial future, including planning their funerals. We hear a lot of advice directed at Baby Boomers regarding burial planning, but not so much toward Gen Xers.

Why Gen X Should Expedite Their Burial Plans

Funerals and burials can be expensive, which is why it pays to plan ahead. If you make your funeral arrangements now, for you or another loved one, you'll lock in current prices, before decades of inflation. Failure to pre-purchase can also result in overpaying for services when the time does come, when you or your loved ones are in a more vulnerable emotional state.

Planning your burial can also save your children and other survivors extra grief. Think about it. If you have teenage children, you know how they can butt heads now over minor matters – imagine the conflicts that would ensue over wondering how one of their parents would want to be memorialized. Doing it now means you get to make all the decisions about what you want your legacy to be.

Choosing a Cemetery

When it comes to Gen x burial planning, where do you start? The first step is choosing a cemetery.

Of course, it may be difficult to know where you'll be living after retirement, but you don't have to worry about that now. Ownership of cemetery plots can be transferred for various reasons, such as moving out of the area in which the cemetery is located.

You also might want to take into account where your children, other relatives or close friends live or plan on living. After all, they will be the ones visiting the site.

In any case, you should have a few basic preferences in mind as you begin your search for a cemetery:

  • Do you have specific religious requirements?
  • Where is the cemetery located/is it easily accessible? What burial options does it offer?
  • Do you need more than one plot for a spouse or other family members?
  • Do you want to be buried near trees?
  • In an indoor mausoleum where all visitors will be protected from any weather conditions?
  • Cremated?

Once you've decided on the basics, you can begin your search. To narrow down your choices, consider starting with geographical location. Your best bet is to search by state or zip code.

The best way to determine whether a cemetery is right for you is to visit the location. Take a look at the grounds. Are they well kept? Is there ample shade for visitors? Are benches nearby for rest and reflection? Is a view important to you? Many cemeteries offer picturesque settings.

Selecting Your Burial Type

In some cases, gen Xers are burial planning differently than their parents. New options, such as natural burials, mean you can do so much more than before. But if you're unsure how you would like to be buried, keep your options open. That is, select a cemetery with a wide range of burial services. It may sound a bit morbid now, but there are six types of burial options to consider. Now's a good time to learn the differences, so that you can make an informed decision:

  • Traditional in-ground burial — with casket and gravesite
  • Above ground/community mausoleum — indoors with crypt and crypt plate
  • Above ground/lawn crypt — for two people (not available in New Jersey)
  • Cremation — typically less expensive, unless the urn is buried at a gravesite (which is the preference of Catholic cemeteries)
  • Above ground/private mausoleum — usually for an entire family Natural burial — an eco-friendly choice

Take Care of the Details

Once you determine the type of burial you prefer, you'll have additional decisions to make. These include what type of casket or urn, a vault, flat in-ground marker or tombstone-type monument, whether you’d like a memorial bench near the site, etc. Keep in mind that different religions may have different requirements. For example, traditional Jewish burials call for a plain wooden casket.

Another consideration is which funeral home will handle all the details. You can even pre-pay your funeral so that your family won't be burdened with the cost. Various options are available, including term life and burial insurance.

It may sound selfish, but think of it this way: By planning your funeral and burial, everything will go exactly per your wishes. After all, it is your funeral.

But really, planning your burial is one of the least selfish things you can do for your family. You'll save them the emotional and financial strain of having to plan it for you. When the time comes and they’re overcome by grief, at least they will have this process already taken care of.

So, if you're a Gen Xer thinking more about colleges than coffins, begin to consider burial and funeral planning as well. Then, once you enter retirement with it already taken care of, you can focus on your golf swing instead of gravesites.