Talking about funeral plans – for your own or a loved one’s funeral – isn’t exactly a fun discussion.
In 2021, Americans appear to be growing more intentional with the ways they choose to memorialize a loved one. Among the memorialization trends, highly detailed planning and personalized touches are key along with a rise in pre-paid funerals that take the stress off of loved ones.
Read on to learn 3 trends in funeral service planning as well as where estate planning stands for Americans post-COVID.
Trend #1: Funerals and Memorial Services are More Personalized
In 2021, funeral services, memorial services, and celebrations of life are growing much more personalized, detailed, and relaxed than their former traditional counterparts.
For example, a family member or friend spearheading the planning of a service for a loved one might:
- Line up a list of speakers to share personal stories from different times in their loved one’s life
- Curate a special playlist of songs a loved one adored to serve as background music for the service
- Offer food and cuisine reflective of their loved one’s tastes
- Plan a theme that’s a culmination of their loved one’s personal and work passions as a way to bid farewell and honor his or her contributions
Funerals and memorial services are also happening more often in our own time and in our own ways, in part, because of delays caused by COVID-19.
It’s now more acceptable to wait a little while to host a celebration of life for a loved one, which gives the planner ample time to plan the details. Online services, whether via Zoom or streamed on Facebook live, are also popular and now valid options over a traditional service at a funeral home or church. Celebration of life services might also take place on location at a favorite spot of your loved one.
Trend #2: New Novel Ways to Memorialize the Deceased
In 2021, more people are opting away from the traditional funeral service and burial in a cemetery.
Instead, they’re opting for cremation and lower key celebration of life services. Afterward, they’re choosing more creative, meaningful ways to memorialize loved ones.
Eco-friendly green funeral preparation and burials are growing in popularity. This may include planning sustainable burials using a biodegradable casket or urn and using formaldehyde-free embalming fluids – or forgoing the embalming process all together.
Some people are also choosing more creative and eco-friendly final resting places for cremated ashes.
The Neptune Memorial Reef is a man-made reef off of the coast of Miami that uses cremated ashes of loved ones to help build its growing ecosystem.
The fully biodegradable Living Urn grows a tree with a loved one’s cremated remains.
You can even opt to send your loved one’s ashes into space on a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight.
Cremation keepsakes and jewelry are also popular now. Some are opting to have diamonds created out of a loved one’s ashes, creating locket pendants that preserve a portion of a loved one’s ashes, and creating thumbprint necklaces, memorial glass, or smooth stones made with cremated ashes.
Trend #3: Pre-Paid Funeral Services and Planning On the Rise
Setting up a prepaid funeral plan is now becoming more commonplace. This is especially true in younger generations who want more individualistic control over their end-of-life plans.
Like estate planning, this option helps relieve the stress and potential burden that might be placed on loved ones during end-of-life preparations. Prepaid funerals can also help the family save money by locking in costs for portions of the total funeral cost and prevent family disagreements over preparations.
Estate Planning is Still Lagging Among Americans
Even though pre-planning services and an interest in creating more personalized funerals and memorial services is on the rise, estate planning is still lagging among American adults.
According to a recent Care.com study, over the past 4 years, the percentage of U.S. adults with a will has actually decreased, from 42% in 2017 to 32.9% this year. The main reasons cited were:
- I haven’t gotten around to it.” – 34.2%
- “I don’t have assets to leave anyone.” – 28.1%
- “I don’t know how to get a will or living trust.” – 7.6%
- “It’s too expensive to set up.” – 5.6%
Also according to study findings, COVID-19 has encouraged younger adults to draw up wills. The number of young adults with a will has increased by 69% since 2020. And this year, for the first time, 18-34-year-olds are more likely to have wills over middle-aged Americans, ages 35 to 54.
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