What’s an Aftercare Program? (+What Happens after a Funeral)Aug 03, 2023 | 7 MIN READ
Dealing with the end of a loved one’s life can be incredibly stressful under the best of circumstances. Discussing the end of your own life with your family and helping them prepare for life after the funeral can also be uncomfortable and difficult.
One of the things that can help families following the end of the funeral is an “aftercare program.” What is an aftercare program? What happens after a funeral that might require post-funerary care? How can you better prepare for life after a loved one’s funeral (or prepare your loved ones for life after your own funeral)?
What Happens after a Funeral?
We know that there are a lot of things to prepare for before the funeral. Things like finding the right funeral home, setting up a budget for the end-of-life celebration, sorting out the guest list, finding someone to officiate the service based on the deceased’s religious and cultural preferences, decorating the venue—the list goes on and on.
But what happens after the funeral? What are the next steps that you should expect to go through once the service is over? Some of the things that can happen following a funeral include:
- Interring the Remains. After the service, the body will be transported to the cemetery or, if the deceased was cremated, then their remains in an urn may be transferred to the family to store or scatter the ashes in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
- Resolution of Funeral Costs. If the funeral costs weren’t all paid upfront, then the funeral home may send invoices to the family or the executor of the deceased’s estate requesting payment for services rendered. Some funeral homes may help with applying for certain funeral expense assistance programs to make it easier to pay for the service.
- Grief Counseling. Some families may want to go through grief counseling following the funeral. Statistics cited by The Recovery Village note that about 2.5 million people die in the U.S. annually and that 1.5 million children have lost one or both parents by the age of 15. Grief counseling, or even just informal support and discussions with friends and family members about your grief, can be a crucial part of the healing process that helps promote emotional wellbeing.
- Handling the Deceased’s Estate. Following the funeral, there may be a reading of the will where the deceased’s intentions for their assets are revealed or, in the absence of a will, the court divides their assets based on the intestacy rules for the state they were living in. For example, in Florida, if you’re married with children and don’t have a will, half of your assets are distributed to your spouse and the other half are divided as evenly as practicable amongst your children. Some assets may not be subject to the will if there are other beneficiaries built into the agreement for that asset, such as some bank or investment accounts with designated beneficiaries.
- Collection of Life Insurance Death Benefits. The family, employers, and others who knew the deceased may be eligible to receive funds from the deceased’s life insurance death benefit. This typically requires the insurance company to be informed of the deceased’s passing so they can pay the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries, in turn, may be able to choose the nature of the payment—whether they take a lump sum payment or take payments over time. Here, consulting with a financial advisor may be in the beneficiary’s best interests to go over their options and which payment arrangement best suits their needs.
These are just a few of the major events that may follow a funeral. So, where does a funeral aftercare program fit into this?
What Is an Aftercare Program?
A funeral aftercare program is a service offered by some funeral homes that provides families with care and support following the funeral. This can mean different things from different funeral homes—and not all funeral homes have built a formal aftercare program.
Some of the forms of support that a funeral aftercare program provides can include things like:
- Grief Counseling Recommendations. Some funeral homes may have relationships with therapists and grief counselors in your area and provide recommendations to help you and your family cope with your loss.
- Post Funeral Contact. Staff from the funeral home may make calls or send mail offering information and advice about dealing with grief, uplifting and life-affirming messages, or serving as a proverbial shoulder to cry on should you need to confide in them.
- Grief Workshops and Support Groups. Sharing your grief with others can be an important part of the healing process. Some funeral homes may either host or have connections with groups in the areas that host workshops.
- Providing Resources about Inheritance Management. Some funeral homes may recommend that you consult with a financial advisor about how to manage your inheritance, provide you with information about managing the transfer of assets, and other financial resources. This can help you learn a bit more about what to expect when dealing with an inheritance.
- Online Memorial Website Services. Some funeral homes may offer a service where they (or a contractor working with their business) create a personalized website memorializing the deceased (or providing resources for a page on a social media site such as Facebook or Instagram). These services can help you extend the celebration of someone’s life well after their passing and allow those who may be unable to attend the funeral in person (because of distance or other issues) to connect with the grieving process and find some closure as well.
These are just a few examples of what an aftercare program could offer. When searching for a funeral home with an aftercare program—whether for your own funeral or for a loved one’s memorial service—it’s important to ask them what they include in their specific program so you know what you or your loved ones can expect.
Preparing for Life after the Funeral before It Starts
If you’re planning a funeral, you may want to make sure that you and your loved ones are ready for what comes after. There are some things that you can do now that could help you make the transition to life after a funeral easier on your loved ones.
Finding a Funeral Home with an Aftercare Program
When in the initial planning stages of your funeral planning, one thing you may want to do is to check to see if the funeral home offers an aftercare program—and what, specifically, that program entails.
During your search for a funeral home, consider looking at their websites to see if they have an aftercare program. If they advertise one, be sure to contact the funeral home and ask them directly to see what their aftercare program entails. This can help you know exactly what to expect and whether they will be able to provide some care and support to your loved ones after the funeral is over.
If you’re already in a preneed insurance contract with a particular funeral home, consider contacting them to ask if you can add aftercare to your service package (if they haven’t offered them already during the initial contract negotiation).
Preparing for Final Expenses
Another important step for preparing your loved ones for life after the funeral is making arrangements for your final expenses—not just the funeral, but your medical bills and other expenses that can accompany the end of life. Although debts usually aren’t passed on to your inheritors and beneficiaries, debtors may be able to take assets and funds out of your inheritance before they’re disbursed—affecting your estate planning arrangements.
Some of the things you can do to help prepare for these final expenses include taking steps like:
- Acquiring Life Insurance. Life insurance, whether it’s a term life or whole life plan, can be crucial for paying end-of-life expenses and providing your loved ones with a security net to cover the cost of living after your passing.
- Adding Final Expense Insurance. Final expense insurance is a supplemental form of life insurance that is specifically designed to help cover common end-of-life expenses like medical care and funeral costs. These policies tend to have a lower benefit amount than more traditional life insurance but are also less expensive and often easier to qualify for.
- Making Preneed Arrangements with a Funeral Home. Rather than waiting for your passing to plan your funeral, you may be able to get preneed insurance. Here, you make your plans for your funeral ahead of time and start making insurance premium payments to fund those arrangements. This helps prevent your funeral costs from impacting your loved ones and allows them to focus on mourning rather than preparing (and funding) the funeral themselves. However, preneed plans only cover the agreed-upon expenses and tend to lock you into working with a specific funeral home.
Some individuals who are independently wealthy may choose to set aside a fund to cover their end-of-life expenses and the cost of a funeral. However, it’s easy to underestimate the cost of a funeral and related end-of-life expenses.
Also, you may want to establish what your preferences are for your funeral and communicate them to your loved ones before your passing so they can fulfill your wishes without overspending.
Need more help preparing for end-of-life expenses while ensuring that your loved ones can be taken care of financially? Reach out to ELCO Mutual to learn more about your life insurance options today.