I can give you an easy "how to" answer for the title of this post. Ready? Be informed. Know the facts.
Here is what I mean. I am not saying that every funeral providers is unethical in there practice of planning and sells, but what I am saying is that knowledge is the best defense to acting on emotion or intimidation. There are local and federal rules that govern burial. Even if you do not pay for prearrangement, it is prudent to know the rules and laws ahead of the need to bury a love one or for preplanning.
For instance... are you aware that outer containers are not required by state laws and are only required by some private cemetery owners? Federal rules require providers to offer you a price list with the various price options for their services. It is federally illegal for a provider to claim that there is any process that will keep a body for decomposition. Burial providers can not refuse a burial container obtained for another source. I could go on and on with the many misconceptions or lies told or believed by consumers. Here are some sources and alternatives to make you a better informed buyer of that one thing we can not avoid...the disposition of your body, a family member or friend.
The FEDERAL TRADE COMISSION provides federal rules that govern burial providers and consumer's rights in regards to funerals.
For several decades, NATIVE CASKETS located in Colorado, has been offering natural wood crafted caskets, coffins and urns as a burial option.
CASKET BUILDER SUPPLY offers DIY wood coffin and casket kits well suited for home funeral arrangements with various add-on options.
With chapters across the country, The FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE provides valuable federal information and local chapter links.
The HOME FUNERAL ALLIANCE provides valuable information for home funeral options.
"PREPARE for your care" is an online program that provides step by step plans for your care in the form of Advance Directives, if you are not able to speak for yourself. AD provides your family, friends and medical professionals with the information you would want them to know in the instance of any chronic or terminal illness care.
There are two very important Advance Directives that can be and should be completed in advance of, by anyone 18 years old and older. The first is the Living Well. When completed, witnessed and signed, this form will direct your medical care team of your wish for care should you be unable to competently speak for yourself and be facing chronic/terminal illness. A Living Will informs your doctor what care you want as well as the care you will not want at end of life. There are a number of things to address in a Living Well. For instance, if you will like all life supporting efforts or will rather have "comfort care". You can designate if you will prefer to die at home or in a care facility. Perhaps you want to chose whom or what is at your bedside or not there, at your final weeks, days or moments. All these circumstances can be address in your Living Well.
The second form is the Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney. This document allows you to stipulate a person/agent to legally advocate for you if you are unable to speak for your own medical decisions. This person, the proxy, represents your values and concerns. Being appointed and documented, this person doesn't have to wait until you are terminal. They may act on your behalf when you are unconscious and temporarily ill, yet your proxy will also be aware of your Living Will and work on your behalf to unsure that your wishes are carried out if a situation is life ending. This person also has access to your medical records, avoiding the constraints of HIPPA. In picking your proxy, it is best to chose a person or persons you trust, whom is willing and able to speak up for you. So have a conversation with at least 2 people and list them in order of authority in case your first selection is unable to fulfill the duties.
The third is Appointment of Agent for Body Disposition. This form, like the the above, appoints a person to act on your behave but in this case, it is after you are dead. So it is not related to healthcare or your Will. This person will be aware and appointed to follow your wishes related to the care of your body after you are deceased.
Below are several additional resources to completed these documents. Some you are able to complete online then print. Others will needed to be downloaded, printed and completed by hand. Follow these steps...
Lastly, consider the utmost importance of these completed documents. If you are unable to advocate for yourself during a medical emergency or end of life, there are no guarantees that medical professionals will act in your best interest and may even consider your lack of advanced planning as indifference to the care you receive.