Death Facebook Twitter Instagram Social Media Passwords

Death and Social Media Passwords
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

What is Your Digital Legacy Plan?

Most people plan to document their final wishes in a last will and testament but not many consider including instructions on what should happen to their Facebook page when they die. With over 1.9 billion users on Facebook, over 300 million on Twitter, and who knows how many on other online sites, having a digital legacy plan is becoming more important than ever in these modern times.

Where do you Start?

It’s difficult enough trying to remember login passwords, so creating a detailed plan for all your email and social media accounts can seem like a daunting task. Still, it’s best to start planning sooner rather than later, and some of the media apps already have documented plans for dealing with accounts of the deceased. Here’s how Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handle it:

What happens to my Facebook page when I die?

Facebook is the most popular networking app in the world and they offer two options for your profile after your death:

1. Memorialization – your profile can be memorialized to serve as a gathering place for family and friends to post memories and remembrances. You can choose to memorialize your page in advance by selecting a “legacy contact” to administer the account after your passing. The legacy contact (who needs to be a Facebook friend) will be responsible for managing the account, e.g., updating profile pictures or responding to friend requests. However, they have limited capabilities and cannot read your private messages or gain full access to your profile.

2. Permanent deletion – this option can also be requested in advance. Once your account is permanently deleted, it will no longer be seen on Facebook and cannot be reactivated. You’ll still need to select a legacy contact for this, but the person won’t be able to log into your account or make posts/updates.

Note that only verified immediate family members can ask Facebook to remove a loved one’s account, and they must provide either a valid death certificate or proof of authority and proof of their loved one’s passing in order to get the account deactivated.

What happens to my Twitter profile when I die?

Twitter’s policy states that they can only deactivate a dead person’s account based on a request from a verified family member or estate executor. After the deactivation request is received, Twitter ensures validity by obtaining details such as the death certificate, obituary information, and requester identification. Only then will the deceased’s account be removed from the site.

Twitter also states they are unable to provide account access to anyone other than the account owner, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. So without the necessary proof of death, vital statistics, and no memorialization options, a dead person’s Twitter account is often left as is, which can sometimes lead to unfortunate tweets from beyond.

What happens to my Instagram account when I die?

Instagram is owned by Facebook so they also offer account removal or memorialization based on a valid request from an immediate family member. The requester must fill out a form to get the process started and provide proof of death (death certificate, obituary notice) as well as evidence that they are related to the deceased. Unlike their parent company, Instagram does not allow you to choose removal or memorialization in advance, and they do not provide account access or login details for a memorialized account.

Creating a Digital Legacy Plan

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram comprise only a small share of an average person’s digital legacy. Other digital assets include various online accounts such as:

  • Email
  • Personal & business websites
  • Social media profiles (LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Snapchat)
  • Communication apps (Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime)
  • Gaming (Xbox, Wii, PlayStation)
  • Financial service sites (banking, trading, retirement)
  • Shopping sites (Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, brand stores)
  • Entertainment accounts (Netflix, Hulu, cable tv)
  • Other apps & accounts (Uber, Airbnb, Expedia, PayPal, etc.)

The list can go on forever depending on how extensive your digital footprint is. That’s why it’s important to make a digital legacy plan and select a “digital executor” to manage, protect, and preserve your online assets. Getting started on the planning process early is the only way to ensure all your accounts are handled properly in accordance with your end of life plans and preferences.

Choose a digital executor who is technically savvy and sensitive to the confidential details of your digital estate. Whoever you select will need to be aware of state laws governing access to a person’s digital assets.

The Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, completed by the Uniform Law Commission and currently enacted in 35 states, allows fiduciaries or executors to manage digital property like computer files, web domains, and virtual currency. However, the Act restricts access to electronic communications such as email, text messages, and social media accounts unless the original user consented in a will, living trust, power of attorney, or other record. If you already have a will, you can add your digital legacy plan to your will to ensure legality.

Creating a digital legacy plan to manage your online assets is just as important as having a will to protect your physical assets when you die, so make sure to include one in your end of life decision-making process. It will give you and your family much-needed peace of mind when the time comes.

Contributed by Christine Gatuiria at FuneralContentCreative. She writes and creates engaging content for the funeral and death care industry.

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes are Certain

Most of us have heard the old adage; “the two certainties in life are death and taxes“.  As a result of this statement, National Healthcare Decisions Day comes every year on April 16th, the day after taxes.  The goal is to attempt to bring these two matters together.

Jane Markley tells her clients; “Most of us dutifully complete our taxes every year.  So why not also make time to review your end of life plans and advance directives as well?”  Truth be told, completing your plans for death requires much less time and effort than completing your taxes.  Furthermore, completing your death matters only needs to be done once, whereas taxes must be completed each and every year.

It’s NEVER Too Soon

For those of you who haven’t had “the end of life conversation”, and/or documented your healthcare wishes and other final plans and preferences, please remember this all-important statement:  It’s only too soon…until it is too late.”

Knowing you love your family and loved ones, ask yourself this question;  “What is holding you up from completing key matters such as your end of life planning, funeral estate planning, last will, power of attorney, and advance directives?”

Plan NOW!  We Can Help

When it comes to death and taxes, it is very easy to find reasons to procrastinate and postpone these matters.  However, please let us help you preplan and “give the gift of love” to your family and friends.

Don’t wait for the crisis.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Don’t leave your loves ones in a difficult situation.  Don’t wait until it’s to late to learn how to prepay funeral expenses.  Let us help you make this difficult situation a little easier.  Let us help you have “the conversation” now, plan and prepare in advance today!

Your First Step is EASY

A great way to start is to click here and access our free Family Record Guide.  You won’t regret it, your loved ones will thank you, and you will leave a legacy of love!

Final Expense Insurance

Final Expense Insurance

Is it Ever too Late to Insure for Final Expenses?

You’ll be happy to know that it’s never too late to insure for final expenses; however, it’s not the type of purchase you make every day, so it’s always best to consult with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you towards the best choice for your circumstances. By its very definition, insurance is an agreement where someone pays a premium in exchange for a guarantee of compensation at an unknown future time of loss, like death.

With regard to purchasing insurance for final expenses, the general rule of thumb is to buy it when you are young and healthy. There is good reason for that.  Nearly all life insurance and final expense polices require some degree of underwriting. Generally, rates are based upon age and health, so older individuals will almost assuredly pay higher premiums.

What is Final Expense Insurance?

Final expense insurance policies are not one-size-fits-all. Here’s a quick preview of a few different types of policies:

  • Preneed Funeral Insurance – a policy, linked to a specific funeral service provider, that is in effect for your entire life once premiums are paid in full.
  • Final Expense Insurance – a policy that isn’t linked to a funeral service provider and can be either term or permanent insurance.
  • Burial Insurance – usually a term life insurance policy for a specified amount that is payable upon death to a named beneficiary.

Funerals are Expensive – and Prices Will Only Grow Higher

Few things are certain when planning for end-of-life expenses. However, one thing that is certain is that funeral expenses are increasing. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the cost of a funeral with burial has risen 28.6% over the last decade. Considering  current funeral costs of about $10,000 and future rising costs due to inflation, you’ll want to consider purchasing a policy sooner rather than later. As with any type of insurance, there comes a point where the cost of insurance surpasses the benefit that it provides. That’s the point where wise consumers choose to self-insure from their personal savings or other assets.

What is the Best First Step?

How do you decide which plan to purchase or if it makes sense to buy one at all? This is the time that it makes sense to consult with a funeral insurance professional that specializes in final expense planning—one who can review your individual needs, present you with sensible options, and guide you towards the best decision for your family. The best time to make insurance decisions is when you are calm and clear-headed. Give yourself peace of mind in knowing that you already have a plan for final expenses, so that you can focus on more important things at a future time that is sure to be wrought with emotion.

Chronic Illness, Death, and Medicare

Medicare and Chronic Illness Death

End-of-Life Care Facts

According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, below are some important end-of-life-care facts:

  • More than 90 million Americans live with at least one chronic illness.
  • Seven out of ten Americans die from chronic disease.
  • Among the Medicare population, the toll is even greater.
  • Patients with chronic illness in their last two years of life account for about 32% of total Medicare spending, much of it going toward physician and hospital fees associated with repeated hospitalizations.
  • About nine out of ten deaths are associated with just nine chronic illnesses, including:

 

1.  Congestive heart failure

2.  Chronic lung disease

3.  Cancer

4.  Coronary artery disease

5.  Renal failure

6.  Peripheral vascular disease

7.  Diabetes

8.  Chronic liver disease

9.  Dementia

What do patients want at the end of life?

Do they want their physicians to do everything possible to extend life? Do they want more time in the hospital? If additional treatments offer little possibility of benefit, do they want more invasive care? Research suggests that the care they get is not necessarily the care they want.

To read more about these end-of-life care facts at the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, click here

By |January 25th, 2015|Categories: Chronic Illness, Chronic Illness Death, Death, end of life, End-of-Life Care Facts, End-of-Life-Care, Medicare|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Chronic Illness, Death, and Medicare

How to Talk Death with a Doctor

Advance Care Planning

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Death

Jane Markley,  one of the most widely-recognized experts on advance care planning, was kind enough to share dome very valuable information about end of life planning.

Jennifer Brokaw, MD is an Emergency Department physician, and the daughter of commentator Tom Brokaw.  She is another excellent specialist who emphasizes the importance and value of advance care planning.

Although most people don’t like to talk about death and dying, the harsh reality is death is something we cannot avoid, postpone, or predict.  In fact, Dr. Brokaw believes that in order to live your best life, you need to think and talk about death.

MUST-SEE Video – How to Talk to Your Doctor About Death

In this extremely informative and educational video, Dr. Jennifer Brokaw opens up about the uncomfortable but vital conversations we should all have with our doctors, our families, and ourselves – well before we near our end of life.

Click Here to Watch This Video:
How to Talk to Your Doctor about Death

By |January 24th, 2015|Categories: Advance Care Planning, Death, death and dying, end of life, end-of-life planning|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on How to Talk Death with a Doctor

Are Your End-Of-Life Care Wishes Clear

End-of-Life Care

Are Your End-of-Life Care Wishes Clear?

As acceptance of end-of-life planning grows in the U.S., new concerns are emerging about how well patients and their doctors understand the forms they are signing about the care they want in their final days.

In September, the Institute of Medicine’s “Dying in America” report called for a national effort to improve medical and social services for end-of-life care, both to improve quality of life and to help reduce the outsize costs of unwanted care at the end of life.

Some health plans are reimbursing doctors who help with advance care planning, and the federal government is weighing doing the same for doctors who talk to Medicare patients about options. A growing number of states are starting programs known as Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or Polst, a form offered to patients who might die within a year so they can document their wishes in a medical record, signed by the doctor.

Read more of Laura Landro‘s article in the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.

By |December 14th, 2014|Categories: Advance Care Planning, Advance Directive, Advance Directives, end of life, end-of-life planning, End-of-Life-Care|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Are Your End-Of-Life Care Wishes Clear

Death is Not Failure

Death is Not Failure

As I am preparing this newsletter, I am awaiting a call from a longtime colleague with the knowledge that it will be the last time we have a chance to talk.  Recently diagnosed with multiple brain tumors that are inoperable she has chosen to let her life run its course and to enjoy what quality time she can for as long as the tumors allow.  Tragic, sad, emotional; you bet, but not a failure, as far as we can tell, on anyone’s part.  Remember I said before, death is not an option.  Fortunately, her healthcare providers understand this type of terminally ill planning.

In this day and age so many healthcare providers feel like they have failed if they are unable to cure their patients.  They frequently continue to offer alternative treatments when they know that the chances of doing anything truly helpful are miniscule.  They talk about end of life planning matters extending life, but not about the quality of that life.  They are also confronted by patients and/or loved ones who want “everything” done.   They offer treatments that they themselves would not take were they in the same condition.  The healthcare professionals’ role in life has always been to make people better, to cure them, and when they can’t they feel inadequate or like they have failed so they keep trying even as hope wanes.  It is a reasonable response considering their training focuses on the cure.  But, death is just a part of life and it is sometimes best to accept.

As you might guess, the call came before I had finished this.  I was floored.  In fact my friend was ecstatic when I spoke with her.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  She kept telling me how wonderful it is to have time to talk with people who love her and who share with her what a difference she has made in their lives.  She said that this truly has been the best experience of her life and she is so pleased that her life will be ending this way because she never really thought that she had made a difference in anyone’s life.

She’s living fully in the moment.  She is making plans for the “celebration” of her end of life, when she is gone and where to scatter her ashes.  And given the advent of the Internet and advanced technology tools today, there are many new memorial technology options for cremations.  She has made peace with what is happening to her and is embracing the experience better than anyone I have ever met.  Surely there are down times but to everyone with whom I have spoken who has spoken with her they all are getting the same vibe.

Death for her is not a failure but truly is an experience she is cherishing.  Talk about acceptance!  And yes, she has her advance directives in order.

The bigger question is when will you:  Have ‘The Conversation’ And Give ‘The Gift’

Courtesy of M Jane Markley Consulting 

 

Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

End of Life

Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

After several years of relentless chemo and radiation to check her cancer, Rebecca decided to die with dignity.

She consulted with family members and some close friends and then contacted a nearby hospice. Whatever ‘tough conversations’ there might have been were brief, open and honest. How could anyone object to Rebecca’s decision after all the various treatments that she had undergone? Everyone was in the loop: family members, close friends, some neighbors and a few former colleagues.

When Rebecca became so weak that she could no longer eat or take care of herself, we all knew it was time. I recall one of Rebecca’s last cognitive acts was to view a DVD of her grandson performing in a piano recital. Then she rested, grateful for having viewed her grandson’s artistic triumph.

For the three or four weeks that she lay in bed, a constant stream of family, friends and neighbors visited with Rebecca. She lay in her furnished basement apartment. Soft music penetrated the space. A scented candle burned. Each visitor brought his or her own special treatment ‘modality.’ Some sang, others massaged her limbs, a few talked quietly, reminiscing about happier times they had spent together. What was so impressive was the solace that pervaded the room.

Except for the early hours of each day, Rebecca was never alone. When she died, everyone was at peace…with her and with themselves. We felt sad, but not depressed. I learned that her last breaths were labored and short. Then nothing. We all shared a part in Rebecca’s passing. Because she gave us a bond that we will never forget, our gratitude to Rebecca is boundless. She allowed us to be part of her vigil of peace.

Contributed by Sig Cohen of Beyond Disputes Associates, www.toughconversations.net

 

By |October 6th, 2014|Categories: Death, Death with Dignity, end of life, good death|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

Advance Directives and Advance Care Planning

Advance Directives

Are We at a “Tipping” Point?

How is it that 24 years after the Patient Self-Determination Act went into effect we have not made significant progress in increasing the percentage of people who have Advance Directives?  Death has been hidden behind hospital doors for almost a century, new funeral and memorial technology has advanced, and people still seem to think that death is optional and prefer to avoid the end of life discussion.

Current research shows that only about 25% of the population has completed Advance Directives, yet 80% of the population states that they wish to die at home.  Many of us have talked till we are blue in the face, much money has been spent, and many different initiatives have been started but the number hasn’t budged.

All of this may seem discouraging but there are several different moves afoot that may open the subject up and bring it into the mainstream.  Things like:

  • Respecting Choices – an advance care planning model that has been inculcated into the fabric of the community in La Crosse, WI and has been around long enough to demonstrate significant community, personal, and financial impacts that are being noticed and shared.
  • Institutes of higher learning have started and/or increased their emphasis on end of life care and Advance Directives in their medical and nursing school curriculums planting the seed for better communications with patients in the future.
  • Accountable Care Organizations and Medical Home models are being encouraged by Health and Human Services to collect and report data on the advance care planning, that they are providing to seniors, which will eventually impact their reimbursements.
  • Ever increasing numbers of people, bothered by the lack of discussion and emphasis placed on the needs of people at the end of life, have taken the initiative to develop electronic tools on the internet to guide and help people address these issues before the need arises.
  • And, as I referred to in last month’s newsletter, Death and Dying Cafes and Dinner Parties are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as the underlying need to talk about death and our beliefs about it are being met through this informal yet growing medium.

Making advance care planning and Advance Directives a part of the mainstream of American life, where it is considered inappropriate not to discuss our thoughts and feelings on these issues, will go a long way towards increasing percentages in the future.  With the pace of change upon us we may just be at the beginning of that tipping point.  More people will be willing to have “the conversation” and give “the gift”.

Contributed by M Jane Markley LLC, www.mjmarkley.com

By |March 17th, 2014|Categories: Advance Directives, Death, death cafes, death dinner parties, end of life, Memorial Technology|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Advance Directives and Advance Care Planning

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties??

Death Cafes

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties

 

I know what you are thinking.  “Why would anyone participate in something like this?  I like to enjoy my dinner and this doesn’t sound like fun.”  Talking about death over dinner might not be the usual way you get people over to your house for a meal, but it couldn’t be more crucial.

Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.  Having “the conversation” about end of life care wishes with family, friends, and even total strangers is an important step you can take to ensure that those wishes are understood and respected.

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties

These types of activities, also known as Tea Parties, Death Cafes, etc., have taken off worldwide.    And why is that?  It is because they work.  They allow people to discuss death and related issues and be open to a variety of opinions and issues in a non-judgmental and safe environment.  A colleague of mine, Laurel Lewis, has been hosting these dinner parties for several years with growing interest and attendance such that there is usually a waiting list.  You can learn more about her and what she does at http://laurelllewis.com.

You can also see a sample of one of her dinners on You Tube at http://youtu.be/N2SOlsDTXK8  (Deepak Chopra @ a death and dying dinner party!).  This dinner is rare as it includes a well known physician but that is certainly not necessary.

The Death Cafe which started in Europe is now in the States and lets you know what is happening so check it out at http://www.deathcafe.com .   Another site provides a tutorial on how to set up such a get together.  You can check it out here at http://www.deathoverdinner.org.  An alternative approach used by Paula Schneider of Nevada is to host “Open Forums on End of Life Issues.”  Whatever terms you need to use to get people there, listening, and engaging is what is important.

Why Not Take the First Step?

These dinners and teas are meant specifically for any person who is going to die.  Does that describe you?  So, you need not wait till Thanksgiving this year to have the conversation with family and friends.  You can start now either hosting your own party or getting on line and seeing what meeting is in your area that you can attend to have the experience.

Yes, as I always remind you, it is time to have ‘the conversation’ because you never know when the crisis will occur.  Your discussions will help you feel more comfortable about documenting your wishes allowing you to give ‘the gift’ to your friends and loved ones.  Unless you are certain of your immortality, now is the time to get started!

*Contributed by M. Jane Markley Consulting, LLC

 

By |February 15th, 2014|Categories: Death, death and dying, death cafes, death dinner parties, death over dinner, end of life|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Death Cafes and Dinner Parties??

10 Advantages to Burial Insurance and End of Life Planning

Burial Insurance

10 Key Things to Know About

Burial Insurance

 

The Average Cost of a Funeral: $7,000-$10,000
The Average Cost of a Burial:  $5,000-$7,000
TOTAL Funeral and Burial Costs:  $12,000-$17,000

 

According to AARP (www.AARP.org), the average cost of a funeral for most families is approximately $10,000.  Depending on a wide variety of individual factors and circumstances, this average cost could arguable by much lower…or much higher.  However, when you consider the fact that your family and loved ones could be forced to deal with a large number of financial choices and decisions that add up to such significant funeral costs, creating an end of life plan and looking into burial insurance is something that nobody should overlook or ignore.

Top 10 Advantages of Burial Insurance:

 

1.) NO medical exam required

2.) Premiums NEVER increase

3.) Accumulates CASH value

4.) Insurance NEVER decreases

5.) EASY to obtain up to age 85

6.) Protection is GUARANTEED

7.) Prepays ALL funeral costs

8.) Prepay OTHER outstanding debts or expenses

9.) Your beneficiary can ALWAYS be changed

10.) QUICK and EASY protection from $2,500 to $50,000

Click Here for a FREE Burial and Funeral Insurance Quote

 

 

By |November 20th, 2013|Categories: average funeral costs, Blog, burial, burial insurance, end of life, Funeral Costs, Funeral Insurance|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on 10 Advantages to Burial Insurance and End of Life Planning

Talking About Death and Funeral Planning

Death and Funeral Planning

Why are Funeral Planning and Death

Considered Taboo Conversations?

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.

As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes.  However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.

Fear of Death and Dying

It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement.  There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.

Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.

Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.

Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos

If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.

According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000.  Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available.  So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.

An Open Conversation About Death

Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.

If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered.  This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.

Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.

Conclusion

Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.

Article contributed by Memorials of Distinction

Death of a Loved One Funeral Planning Checklist

Plan a Funeral

Death of a Loved One Checklist

Checklist to Help Families Get Through a Difficult Time

Losing a loved one is arguably one of the most difficult experiences in life.  In addition to coping with the grief and loss, there are also a variety of challenging tasks and important financial decisions to be completed, some of which include:

– Making final arrangements

– Reviewing funeral costs and funding options

– Settling an individual’s estate and heirlooms

– Notifying family, friends and co-workers

– Working with various companies and government agencies

– Providing important vital statistics for insurance claims and death certificates

– Securing the financial security of the remaining spouse

Time-Sensitive Tasks

Contact all close family members, friends, co-workers and clergy first.  This is not only important to notify them of this loss, but because you will need their help with funeral planning and emotional support.

Begin working with the family and loved ones to arrange the funeral, burial or cremation and memorial services Since everyone knows that death is a guaranteed event, my hope is that financial professionals have properly planned and prepared their clients and prospective clients in most of these End of Life arrangements ahead of time.

Review all of the important paperwork and documents to identify any instruction containing their final wishes. In most cases, these key End of Life and estate planning instructions can be found in his or her Last Will, Living Trust, or other estate planning preparations.

Notify family, friends, co-workers and loved ones of the final arrangements.  These final arrangement notifications should include details such as cultural and religious rituals, funeral etiquette details, and funeral flowers or donation preferences.

Notify the decedent’s place of work, professional organizations, unions, associations, military branch, and any other organizations where he or she may have been a member or volunteer.

Recommend that each of the decedent’s loved ones notify their own personal employer and arrange for bereavement leave.

Make sure that an obituary is created in your local newspaper as well as on the Internet.

Promptly begin obtaining certified copies of the death certificate. In most cases the family doctor or medical examiner provides a death certificate within 24 hours of the death. The next step is for the Funeral Home and/or Funeral Director to complete the form and file it with the state. Note: Be sure to request and obtain many original copies, since photocopies are not always accepted. These death certificates become important for tasks such as applying for benefits and settling an estate.

Be sure to review all financial affairs, particularly focusing on estate planning documents such as a Last Will or Living Trust, deeds and titles, marriage certificates, birth and adoption certificates, military paperwork and other relevant documents.

If applicable, locate and contact the decedent’s estate planning attorney for all copies of estate planning documents, particularly the originals.

Contact the decedent’s local bank to verify if they had a safe-deposit box.  Note: If the decedent did not leave behind instructions or details regarding who is authorized to open their safe deposit box, you can petition the probate court for an order to open.

Contact the Social Security Administration to report the death.  Also note:

– If your loved one was receiving any benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death — and thereafter to Social Security as well.

– Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.

– Surviving spouses and other family members may be eligible for a lump-sum death benefit and/or survivor’s benefits. You can visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Prepare a comprehensive list of all of the decedent’s assets.

If applicable, be sure to put safeguards in place to protect any key property.

Make sure any mortgage payments and insurance premiums continue to be paid while the estate is being settled.

Regarding the decedent’s place of work, be sure to:

– Request to receive their belongings.

– Inquire about collecting any salary, vacation or sick pay owed.

– Ask about continuing health insurance coverage and potential survivor’s benefits for their spouse and/or children.

– Review all employer, union, or association death benefits details.  Be aware of the fact that if the death was work-related, the decedent’s estate or beneficiaries may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Contact the decedent’s past employers regarding any pension plans, survivor benefits, as well as any other forms of defined benefit or defined contribution retirement savings plans.

If the decedent was a military veteran, inquire about any potential eligibility for burial and memorial benefits. This can be accomplished by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs by either calling (800) 827-1000 or visiting their website www.va.gov.

Contact any IRA custodians, trustees, and guardians. Be sure to review and confirm all of the IRA beneficiary designations, as well as understand all of the IRA distribution options.

Locate and review all life and funeral insurance policies, which could include individual insurance, group life insurance, mortgage insurance, auto credit life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, credit card insurance and annuities.

Contact each insurance company to find out the necessary procedures and documents needed to file claims.

Promptly contact all credit card companies to notify them of the death and, assuming there are no other names associated, cancel all credit cards.

Retitle all jointly held assets such as bank accounts, automobiles, stocks and bonds and real estate into the surviving parties’ name.  If the decedent was an owner, principal, or had a controlling interest in a business, review all corporate documents and details. Be sure to check to see if there are any additional business agreements such as a buy-sell agreements, split-dollar agreement, etc.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 Months:

If the decedent created a Last Will or Living Trust, be sure to file these documents with the appropriate probate court. If there was any real estate owned out of his or her state of domicile, be sure to file ancillary probate in that state also.

If the decedent did not leave behind a Last Will or Living Trust, contact the probate ask the court or a probate attorney for instructions and assistance.

With regards to any of the decedent’s creditors, be sure to notify them by mail as well as by placing a notice in the local newspaper.  Any debtor’s claims must be made within the statute of limitations.  Although this varies from state to state, the standard time is usually 30 days from actual notice. Once a claim has been made, be sure to insist upon proof of all claims.

With regards to estate taxes, you may be required to file a federal estate tax return within 9 months of the date of death. Due to the fact that state laws vary, there is the possibility that state estate tax and/or inheritance tax returns may need to be filed.  Federal and state income taxes are due for the year of death on the normal filing date, unless an extension is requested. Should there be any existing Trusts in place at the date of death, a separate income tax return may need to be filed. It is highly recommended that all financial professionals and their families seek the advice of seasoned tax and estate planning professionals.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 to 12 Months

One of the most important tasks, which can often be overlooked or postponed, is to update your own estate plan — or your client or prospective client’s estate plan — if someone was a beneficiary or appointed as an agent, trustee or guardian.

Along the same lines, it is also extremely important to revise and update all beneficiary designations on the decedent’s or surviving parties retirement plans. This includes accounts such as IRAs, Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts, pension plans, life insurance policies, annuities and any other accounts on which the decedent was named as a beneficiary.

Review the impact of the “big picture” financial situation, which includes changes in the household income, expenses, budget, as well as short and long-term goals and objectives.

Review the families insurance needs, including the insurance amounts, types, beneficiary designations and most importantly, any needs for insurance.

Reevaluate whether or not the existing investment options still make sense. This includes reviewing details such as existing asset allocation, goals and objectives, risk tolerances, income and estate taxes, income distribution and legacy planning.

Other Key Considerations

Although this is a matter that most families and loved ones wish to complete and have behind them, take your time and do not try to rush the settlement of a loved one’s estate. When it comes to estate planning and distribution, there are many important decisions that must be made in compliance with the Last Will or Living Trust and applicable state and federal laws. This is exactly why it is so important to seek the help and advice of an experienced estate planning attorney.

If your client, prospective client or loved one did not leave behind any End of Life plan with regards to their final plans and preferences, you can visit www.funeralresources.com and www.memorialtechnology.com. These are family-focused resource centers that contains the large majority of information most families seek help for when it comes to funerals, burials, memorial services, End of Life Planning and much more.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Funeral Insurance

End of Life and Funeral Insurance

Everything You Need to Know About
Funeral Insurance

The Average Cost of a Funeral is $10,000 (AARP.org)

 

10 Important Things to Know About
Funeral or Burial Insurance:

 

1.) NO medical exam required
2.) Premiums NEVER increase
3.) Accumulates CASH value
4.) Insurance NEVER decreases
5.) EASY to obtain up to age 80
6.) Protection is GUARANTEED
7.) Prepays ALL funeral costs
8.) Prepay any expenses or debts
9.) Your beneficiary can ALWAYS be changed
10.) QUICK coverage ranges from $2,500 to $50,000

Additional Helpful Resources:

3 Most Common Ways to Plan a Funeral

How to Prepay Funeral Expenses

Key Burial Insurance Details

Top 10 End of Life Plan Benefits

 

Funeral Memorial Technology Services Options

MemorialTechnology.com Offers Families and Funeral Industry New Ways to Memorialize Loved Ones

 

Vienna, VA – The beginning of a New Year is always special for those who have lost loved ones, as well as the funeral and cemetery industries.  However, 2012 is going to be particularly special because families can now take advantage of some of today’s new and innovative memorial technology and memorial services options.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder of FuneralResources.com, recalls “When my family and I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day, we never knew these new memorial options existed.  I can assure you we would have used at least three of these memorial tools.”

Hill’s personal loss inspired him to create www.memorialtechnology.com, a new educational website which simply makes it easier for families and Funeral Directors to raise awareness, education, and access to these new ways to better heal and remember.

MemorialTechnology.com particularly helps the funeral and cemetery industry by offering Funeral and Cemetery Directors a quick and easy way to educate every family on excellent additions to their funeral and memorial services planning.

Top Six New Funeral and Memorial Technology Options

MemorialTechnology.com contains six options that studies show most families are choosing to add to their funeral, memorial, or cremation planning:

1. New Gravestone Technology – Amazing way to see much more than a name and date
2. Video Tribute – A very powerful combination of video, pictures, and funeral music
3. Funeral Webcasting – Allows families to “attend” a memorial service “live” online
4. Memorial Diamond – Customized Genuine Diamonds for family heirlooms
5. Memorial Reefs – Green Burials at sea offer an underwater living legacy
6. Memorial Website – Personalized websites so families can share together anywhere

View This Brief Video Which Explains Today’s New Memorial Technology Options:

As we approach the New Year, Hill stated; “You will see that MemorialTechnology.com provides a true win-win situation.  For the Funeral and Cemetery Directors, they can now offer even more valuable services.  For the families, the can learn and maybe take advantage of ways to enhance and improved a loved one’s life tribute. I hope my mother is proud to know she inspired such a wonderful opportunity.”

FuneralResources.com is the funeral industry’s leading online Resource Center for both families and Funeral Directors.  This comprehensive website offers easy access to help regarding how to plan a funeral, memorial services, and end of life plan services.

For more information or media contact, you can call (800) 379-2511, or email at info@memorialtechnology.com

Digital Death Online and Digitial Estate Planning

Digital Death and Estate Planning

What Happens Online When You Die?

While it’s a scary thought, the thought usually passes quickly, possibly accompanied with a new status update and a quick image change. However, there are a lot of people who have given the issue of digital death a lot more thought.  This is particularly true given today’s new and innovative funeral and memorial services technology options.

Leading technologists around the world are grappling with the possibilities of what will happen to our online selves when we die. Currently there are no uniform policies across social media and online profiling sites regarding what happens when one of their users dies. As a result this raises questions about:

Privacy. Do you want anyone else accessing your Facebook or Twitter profiles and going through your emails after you’ve died? What about digital assets which are jointly held?

Access. Are you leaving behind the login details and passwords needed for a friend or family member to deactivate your accounts? Should the sites themselves automatically grant access to a deceased profile if a family member wants to close the account?

Legacy. Do you want your online self to remain ‘live’ as a legacy? Do you want friends and family to continue posting in your name? How do you want to preserve your digital estate planning online interactions, and how will that data stay relevant as file formats and technology change and develop?

Digital Death Day

While there may not be a holistic approach to what happens online when you die, there are a number of unique initiatives raising awareness and trialling new ideas and systems to make digital death easier to manage. For example, when the Digital Death Day conferences were held in North America in May 2011 this was the third time that attorneys, entrepreneurs, funeral directors, estate planners, researchers, archivists and leading thinkers gathered to have the conversation about the issues of family, privacy, digital property rights and the archiving and curating of data for anthropologists and future generations.

Digital Death Day calls itself an ‘unconference’ where all of the attendees work closely together to explore options for dealing with online profiles after death. Everyone is able to contribute and the first morning is spent creating a multi-track agenda from the feedback of all attendees, which makes for vibrant and relevant content. Digital Death Day explores the fact that while death is a part of life, what does that mean when most people’s end of life planning become largely digital?

Digital Death Resources

The conversation about what happens online when you die is of course taking place online too with blogs such as Death and Digital Legacy http://www.deathanddigitallegacy.com which covers topics such as how to download data from a deceased Facebook profile, how to make sure your online storage of posts, photos and files are really preserved electronically and whether you’d want your family to notify your friends of your death using your own Facebook profile.

John Romano and Evan Carroll have even written a book called Your Digital Afterlife http://www.yourdigitalafterlife.com which compares the legacy of photo albums, diaries and video tapes left behind by our grandparents, to the plethora of thoughts, feelings, images and memories we leave behind online. Your Digital Afterlife also discusses the issues surrounding passwords and who really owns your online content, as well as how that content can be preserved as file formats change.

Adam Ostrow takes the preservation of our online selves a step further in his speech at a TED conference http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com/2011/08/digital-legacy-presented-at-ted-global-2011.  Ostrow’s speech titled After Your Final Status Update asks whether we could, or should, be putting our online profiles in the hands of evolving technology in order to live on – there are already programs which can predict your next tweet based on your past posts, so why not upload the collective of your online interactions into a robot, or project your personality as a hologram to go on interacting with your family and friends after you die?

Digital Death Used to Save Lives

The conversation around digital death is also being used to stop unnecessary deaths from HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. The Digital Death Campaign to Keep a Child Alive began on World AIDS Day, 1 December, with the world’s most followed celebrities sacrificing their digital selves. This means that the celebrities’ Facebook and Twitter profiles go silent until a donation of $1,000,000 is reached to bring their online selves back to life. Plus, you can sacrifice your own digital life and encourage your friends and family to donate to the Keep a Child Alive campaign, and bring you back to life online.

Three Facebook Users Die Every Minute

At this rate that means that there will be 1.78 million Facebook accounts in limbo in 2011 because those users hadn’t prepared for their digital death. That’s the equivalent of the population of Western Australia, and as users and status updates continue to grow exponentially, how many deceased pages will there be in 10 years, how will Facebook and the probably non-tech savvy families of these people manage this amount of digital content?

In 2011 there are over 500 million people on Facebook and that number is expected to double by the end of the year to 1 billion users. As you think about those numbers, consider the fact that around 1 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook every day. That is a staggering amount of information that we all felt compelled to share, so if it was important enough to post, isn’t it important enough to preserve?

However, despite digital content growing so rapidly, there are no plans for a way to manage, archive and remove our digital content when we die. For example, if you die and your friends or family want to close down your Facebook account they have to fill out a form and provide a link to your obituary search. If a copy of a key vital statistics such as a Death Certificate is sent to MySpace or eBay the account will be closed however, closing one of the 20 million eHarmony accounts can only be done by using a Last Will, Living Trust, and power of attorney who even then can’t gain access to the account.

There are 100 million tweets being posted each day from the 175 million users, and Twitter will allow a family member to save a copy of your tweets if you die, but no one else will be given access to your account.

Leave a Digital Legacy?  Or Have Your Digital Self Euthanized?

While you are alive you have absolute control over your online profiles and this is one of the main attractions of the medium – the fact that you can share your thoughts, your feelings, your questions and your experiences freely, with whomever you choose. As a result you are creating a rich database of yourself and your life experiences and isn’t that exactly why we put photos in photo albums, create a video tribute, keep diaries, have children and grow businesses – so we can leave something behind to be remembered by? So would you want to live on through your online self or would you rather leave the physical and the digital plane all together?

Digital Privacy

While most social media and online accounts have a policy to dictate what happens to your account when you die, there is still an overarching policy to protect your privacy when you are gone. For example, do you want your parents reading your Facebook status updates or do you want your partner reading through your private emails? Take a second to think about the contents of your inbox or the photos on your Facebook page – what digital dirty laundry would you be leaving behind if you died? However, it’s not only your own privacy that you should be protecting when you die, consider what would happen to the private messages stored in your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or emails which contain private information about friends, family, clients or colleagues. When you die, once private information is no longer bound by the terms and conditions of your friendship, but by the terms and conditions of your email provider or social network.

The various deceased policies of social media sites you may use include:

Twitter. Family and friends can notify Twitter of your death and your account will be removed. Family members can also save a backup of all of your public tweets. Twitter simply needs the name and contact details of the family or friend deactivating the deceased account and their relationship to the deceased, the username of the deceased Twitter account or a link to the profile page, and a link to a public obituary or news article. Twitter has the specific privacy@twitter.com email address for this process.

Facebook. Facebook has a feature where you can download all of your photos, videos, wall posts, notes, messages, events and friends which can be great for your records, as well as help your family manage your account after your death. Your family will need to know your username and password to access your account and archive the information and deactivate your account. However, even when a Facebook account has been deactivated, Facebook itself retains a copy of all information and there is currently no way to permanently delete a profile. Or family or friends can also complete a form and provide a link to an obituary to confirm your death and your profile will be officially memorialized. This means you won’t show up in Facebook suggestions and status updates won’t show up in the news feeds but your profile will remain as an online memorial technology.

MySpace. If MySpace are sent proof of death they will cancel a deceased user’s account.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn will also close your account if they receive confirmation of your death.

YouTube. YouTube allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content.

Google + and Gmail. Google will provide account information to family members at their discretion.

Yahoo and Flickr. Yahoo owns Flickr and as a result both sites have a strict digital death policy, that once they receive a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents so that no one but you can access them.

Hotmail. Hotmail will send a copy of all email messages which are stored on the account and the current contacts list to help your family notify your contacts of your death. Hotmail will then close the account on request.

eBay. Your family will need to fax a copy of your death certificate to eBay to close an account and all customer details are then deleted from the eBay database. eBay may also need to call to verify the account information.

PayPal. PayPal will need to view a death certificate before closing an account, and if there is money in the account a cheque will be issued in the name of the account holder.

Match.com. Match.com will block the account of a user who has died so that it is no longer visible on the site and your power of attorney will need to contact Match.com to retrieve account information.

eHarmony.com. Your eHarmony account will remain open until a family member or power of attorney contacts the site. Even then no third party will be allowed to access your account and eHarmony will close the account.

 

End of Life and Death Donation Options

Consider Funeral and Death Donations

Afterward…

Dividing and Donating Your Loved One’s Estate

A Guest Blogger Shares His Personal Story:

 

When my grandmother passed away, my mother was named as executor of her funeral estate planning and was left with a house full of memories and possessions to distribute. After she and her siblings divided those belongings that they wanted, there were still many items left. My mother didn’t feel right selling these things, so she donated everything, in order to help others in need.

Clothing and Shoes

Clothing items can be donated to second-hand stores, homeless shelters, or battered women’s shelters. There are often used clothing drives in the fall and winter, and coats, gloves/mittens, scarves and boots are especially important donations during this time.

Bedding

If these items are in good condition, homeless shelters will put them to use, especially in the winter months. Additionally, hospices can always use quality donations in order to make their patients as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Books, Videos and CDs

With budget cuts, many schools and libraries are unable to buy new materials as often as they would like, which negatively impacts their students and patrons. By donating to these establishments, you are helping your community and aiding in the education of others.

Dishes, Silverware, and Food-Related Utensils

Homeless shelters that cater to families are often divided into small apartments, complete with kitchens.  By donating to these organizations, you can help a family sit down to a home cooked meal, thus providing stability during a difficult time.

Knick-Knacks, Artwork, and the Like

These are often tricky to donate, as many are personal mementos or are considered clutter by others. Residents of nursing homes, and those suffering from a terminal illness, can often live in drab surroundings.  Therefore, items such as these can brighten their rooms and bring smiles to their faces.

Furniture

Craig’s List is a great place to find people in need of free furniture. When posting, be sure to include a photo, and request that prospective owners pick up the furniture. Be cautious when using sites such as these, though, and use common sense when allowing strangers into your home.

Used Medical Equipment

It is not uncommon to have used medical equipment left after a loved one’s death, especially in the case of a prolonged illness or severe injury. When left with a wheelchair, walker, shower chair, or other equipment, find an area hospice in need of your items. These are often nonprofit, and can always use quality donations.

The death of a loved one can be a devastating time. The last thing you want to worry about is what to do with their possessions once they are gone.

However, with a little thought and end of life planning, you can make this a relatively painless process, and one that can be handled quickly and efficiently, so you can begin to move past your tragedy and start the grief and loss and healing process.

Courtesy of Joseph Baker

4 FREE Guides to End of Life Planning

Four Key Guides to End of Life Planning

Our Personal Gift to You and Your Loved Ones…

4 FREE Guides to Creating a Smart End of Life Plan

(Note: You can download, print, or save each guide below at NO COST)

Please Watch This Brief Video About Creating Your End of Life Plan:

1.  Completing Your Family Record Guide:

• Benefits of keeping all of your financial affairs in one place

• A complete list of key matters to have readily available

• Who can access and how often to update this information

2. Guide to Knowing Your 3 Best Options to Pre-Pay Funeral Expenses:

Pre Need Plan – How this plan works, who it fits, pros and cons

Final Expense Plan – How this plan works, who it fits, pros and cons

• Cemetery Pre-Purchase Kit – Burial Versus Funeral Pre-Planning

3. Guide to Choosing a Will Versus a Trust:

• The importance of creating an estate plan and how to start

• Easy-to-understand difference between a Last Will versus Living Trust

• Helpful ways to determine which is one is best for you

4. Guide to Creating a Love Drawer:

• Benefits of keeping all of your financial affairs in one place

• A complete list of key end of life matters to have readily available

• Who can access and how often to update this information

See Exactly Why a “Love Drawer” is So Valuable For EVERY Family:

 

Best Ways to Prepay Funeral Expenses

How to Prepay Your Funeral Expenses…
And Why?

According to AARP (www.aarp.org), the average cost of a funeral today is approximately $10,000.  So by preplanning a funeral and creating an end of life plan, your are certainly doing a wonderful thing by helping to alleviate many of the funeral planning challenges.

Therefore, over 60% of people who are willing to selflessly take the time to create an End of Life Plan will also choose to prepay their funeral expenses.  By taking care of your funeral costs and expenses in advance, this is yet another added value.  Prepaying your funeral costs is another way of leaving behind a memory of how much you cared for your family and loved ones, rather than leaving them to deal with these financial challenges.

While you need to learn and understand the three most common ways to preplan a funeral, you should also be familiar with the various ways of prepaying your funeral expenses, since this is  one of the fastest growing and widely-accepted aspects of the funeral planning process.

Similar to preplanning your funeral, most financial professionals agree that prepaying your funeral expenses should be a standard topic of discussion when creating a financial plan and estate plan.

The most common and widely used strategies to prepay your funeral expenses are savings, life insurance, and funeral insurance (also referred to as burial insurance), mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other finance advice strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:

Savings

Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for their end of life plan and funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.

Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as your funeral or memorial services, burial expenses, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.

In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, and college.

Funeral Insurance

Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as funeral flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more. Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral planning packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer funeral insurance policies.

Pre Need Trust Agreements

Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.

Get Help

Although the large majority of the funeral industry will tell you that most funeral costs can range anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000, it is very common for funerals to cost much more or maybe even less.

Also, as with any important financial decision or investment, there are many advantages and disadvantages to each of the options mentioned above. Before choosing a policy, it is important to consider many things, including but not limited to your age, health, financial status, objectives, liquid assets, tax issues, estate tax issues, family needs, etc.

In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, and everyone should consider including an end of life plan.

Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor before applying or purchasing any of these policies, pay close attention to your specific state requirements, and also the financial strength and claims paying abilities of each company, funeral home, etc.

 

Who Really Needs an End of Life Plan? And Why?

Who Really Needs an End of Life Plan?

See Exactly Why This Makes Sense…From the Heart

The sad truth is that the financial planning industry largely overlooks the fact that creating an End of Life Plan needs to be a part of a sound comprehensive financial plan.  To prove my point, as a Financial Advisor for nearly 25 years, I have never been trained or educated on how to help my clients prepare their end of life plans and preferences.  Furthermore, I have also never been trained or educated on how to help my clients deal with the funeral planning process after a loved one has passed.

See For Yourself Why This Makes Sense:

The Missing Piece of the Financial Planning Puzzle

The reality is that a client should logically turn to their Financial Advisor for anything that has to do with not only their money, but also  the best interests of their family.  This involves a detailed review and analysis of things like insurance, investments, estate planning details (How to Choose a Last Will or Living Trust), minimizing or eliminating taxes, college planning, mortgages, and so on.

The key point here is that as Financial Advisors, arguably the most important role we play is helping protect families against unexpected events that can cause major financial or emotional challenges…and possibly irreparable damages or losses.

Most Financial Advisors typically protect their clients by implementing traditional financial products and strategies such as life insurance or creating a Last Will or Living Trust with Estate Attorneys.  They also recommend and promote important insurance policies which are designed to protect against specific losses, such as disability insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, car and home insurance, and many other options.  These recommendations can vary, since  of course, each family’s situation is usually unique and different.

To be honest, I considered myself to be extremely well-versed in how to protect my clients, as well as my own family, against unexpected events.  However, everything changed on Thanksgiving Day of 2008 when I lost a close loved one and had to go through this experience personally.

Very Few Families Know “What to Do Next”

Losing a close loved one is, by far, one the most difficult experiences anyone can face in their lifetime.  I remember feeling so disappointed as we went through this experience…thinking that since I was a Financial Advisor, I should know better.  However, the enormity of the situation really hit me when I realized that I was never trained or educated on how to plan and prepare my clients for this particular situation.  I am almost ashamed to admit, I was totally unprepared.

I can remember looking at my family, and without saying a single word, you could tell we were are searching for the same answers to “what happens next”?  Sadly, these are the questions that most families are forced to deal with every day when they lose a loved one, such as:

1.  What do we do now?

2.  Who can we turn to for credible help and advice?

3.  How do we get started?

What Could I Have Done Differently?

As I look back, I remember how comforting and gratifying it was to see our family come together and accomplish so many things in such a short period of time.  At the same time, I also remember feeling frustrated because we lacked the knowledge on how to deal with many of these challenges, and we also had not idea where to turn to for the help and answers we needed.

After experiencing all of the emotional ups and downs, the funeral planning challenges, planning all of the memorial service details, and even working out things like;  how to write a funeral eulogy, choosing funeral flowers versus donations, and choosing among the many cremation urns, I can honestly tell you that planning a funeral is overwhelming.

May I Offer Some Valuable Advice?

So after all of this, here is what I think so many people need to hear.  Consider these facts:

1.  There is nothing more difficult than the loss of a loved one
2.  Planning a funeral and memorial service is an overwhelming process
3.  The large majority of families are uneducated on the many details involved in this process
4.  Very few families are left with any end of life plans – telling them “what to do next”

The truth is it really doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, we are talking about death and dying.  No, it is not fun, and not something we like to even think about.  However, the harsh reality is that some day we will all die.  So when you break it down to these simple facts, you are left with two choices:

1.   Do nothing – and let your family add insult to injury
2.   Plan in advance – and minimize or eliminate some of the burden you will leave behind

What is the Key Message Here?

Again, I fully understand that nobody likes to talk about death, dying, or end of life planning.  However, we have to face and accept the fact that not are we going to die some day, but it could happen much sooner than anyone ever expected.

So my sincere hope is that I can encourage anyone who is reading this…every son, daughter, spouse, grandchild, or loved one…to have this discussion with your family. And since nobody knows what the future might bring, have this talk sooner versus later.

There is no such thing as preparing your End of Life Plan too soon.  On the contrary, the worst thing you can do is take the attitude of “I don’t need to do this now, that won’t happen to me, or, I can do this later“. As the old adage goes;

“By Failing to Plan…You are Planning to Fail.”

You Can’t Go Wrong:

By creating an end of life plan in advance, here are a few of the meaningful benefits you will experience from this selfless act of love:

1.  Peace of mind – You will sleep better at night knowing that you have completed this all-important plan, and that your family and loved ones will be forever grateful.  This is the true definition of a win-win situation.

2.  You control how you will be remembered – Knowing this will be a time of great loss for your loved ones, you will be remembered for showing how much you cared by sacrificing the time to do something very special, and easing the burden when it is needed the most.

After going through something like this helps you realize that every day is truly a gift.  I guess that is exactly why they call it “the present“.  So please, take advantage of “the present” you are given today and build a plan that allows your loved ones to celebrate your life, and focus on how grateful they are today…and will be after you are gone…for all of the great memories they were able to share with you.

Get Started Today – Your First Easy Step:

I would like to personally congratulate you, in advance, for taking the first step towards creating a smart End of Life plan for you, your family, and all of your loved ones!

The first step to getting started is clicking on this link below to access our:

Four Key End of Life Planning Guides

(Note: There’s NO COST to download, save, or print these four guides)

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

10 Questions About Estate Planning, Living Trust, and Last Will

Estate Planning

10 Most Common Questions Families Ask About Estate Planning, Last Wills, and Living Trusts

1. What is a Will?
A Last Will is signed writing in which a person (often referred to as the “testator”) directs what is to be done with his or her property after death. Each state has its own very specific laws as to what is necessary for a Last Will to be valid in that state.

2. Who Can Create a Will?
Any mentally competent person who is at least 18 years old may make a Last Will. However, later proof of any fraud, duress, or undue influence by another person or the testator may cause the Last Will to be invalid.

3. Who Should Have a Will…and Why?
Every mentally competent adult should have a Last Will. Here are a few of the reasons:
• You can direct how you want your property divided at your death.
• You can name the person you want to handle you estate (called the “executor” or “personal representative”).
• You can reduce the expenses of administering your estate.
• You can save taxes.
• You can nominate a guardian for your minor children.
• You may provide for a trust for the support and education of your children without the necessity of costly court proceedings.

4. Does a Will Need to Be Witnessed? Does a Will Need to Be Notarized?
Generally, most states require that the signing of a Last Will must be witnessed by two competent persons, who also must sign the Last Will in front of the testator. (An exception to the witness requirement is made if the testator writes out the entire Last Will in his or her own handwriting, and signs and dates it.)

Although the law does not require a Last Will to be notarized, it is a highly recommended practice, followed by most lawyers. If the testator’s and witnesses’ signatures have been notarized, the Last Will is presumed to be properly executed and is accepted by the court without testimony from the witness.

5. How Long is a Last Will Valid?
Your Last Will is valid until you revoke it generally either by physical destruction (tearing or burning it up, for example) or by signing a superseding Last Will or written revocation.  However, if you get divorced after signing a Last Will, the law may consider the Last Will partially revoked. Also, if you are married, your spouse may have rights in your estate regardless of what is provided in your Last Will.

6. Can a Will Be Changed?
Your Last Will does not take effect until you die; therefore, it can be changed at any time during your life as long as you are mentally competent. Traditionally, Last Wills were changed by an amending instrument called a “codicil,” but with the development of modern word processing technology, it is usually better and just as easy to sign an entirely new Last Will when you wish to make changes.

7. What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will?
If you don’t have a Last Will, a state statute directs who receives you property, regardless of your wishes. For example, in my home state of Virginia, if you are married, your estate generally passes entirely to your surviving spouse; however, if you have children who are not also the children of your spouse, your children divided two-third of your estate, and your spouse takes the other one-third.

8. Is Joint Ownership a Good Substitute For a Last Will?
In most cases, joint ownership is not an acceptable substitute for a Last Will. Contrary to popular belief, joint ownership of assets between husband and wife often results in excessive estate takes. Joint ownership between parent and child may foster disputes between family members and cause unexpected and unnecessary gift taxes.

9. Is a Trust (Also referred to as a Revocable Living Trust) a Substitute for a Will?
A properly funded Revocable Living Trust can be a valuable and important part of the estate plan for many people, but it does not eliminate the need for a Last Will. If you have a Living Trust, you will still need a Last Will to dispose of those assets that have not or cannot be placed into the Living Trust.

As useful as they are, Living Trusts are not appropriate for everyone. Only your lawyer can tell you if you should consider one, and only you lawyer should prepare it.

10. Who Should Draft Your Last Will?
A person who drafts a Last Will must be familiar with the law in order to avoid the many pitfalls and to comply with the formalities necessary to assure the Last Will’s validity. Only a practicing lawyer is professionally qualified to give you advice regarding your Last Will, to prepare your Last Will, and to supervise it’s signing.

A Few More Practical Suggestions:

More than 70% of Americans Die Without Leaving Behind a Last Will.  Planning your financial affairs, and coordinating this with your estate plan, is a very personal and individual matter. You should decide for yourself the general purpose you wish to accomplish, and then consult with a seasoned estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA if you want to have a coordinated and comprehensive plan, which integrates and accomplishes all of your financial goals and objectives.

Four practical steps to save time and help assure a sound result:

1. Inventory you assets. List in reasonable detail all of your property, real and personal, life insurance policies, and retirement plans, with your best assessment of their values.

2. Inventory your liabilities. List all debts and obligations, including principal amounts, payees, and essential terms.

3. List your family members and any other persons whom you wish to participate in your estate. Decide who might be an appropriate executor, trustee, or guardian for your minor children.

4. Decide what you want to accomplish. Determine what your objectives are, and to whom you wish your assets distributed.

Getting Started is Easy:

It just takes five easy steps, where your only cost will be your time:

Step One: Spend some time with your existing financial advisor, or an experienced financial advisor in your local area, so you can review the basic details your “big picture financial plan” together

Step Two: Your financial advisor will review this information and help you assess confirm exactly what your estate planning needs and preferences are

Step Three: Once your financial advisor reviews your overall estate planning needs, they can help you understand exactly how Wills and Trusts work, as well as which one they feel fits your situation best

Step Four: After you are fully comfortable and confident with their recommendation, you can consult with a seasoned estate planning attorney who can help you properly draft these documents and details

Step Five: Arguably the most important step, and often overlooked, is making sure that your estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA are all working together to ensure all of your estate plans and preferences are coordinated and working properly with your “big picture financial plan”.

 

By |September 2nd, 2010|Categories: end of life, Estate Planning, Funeral Estate Planning, Last Will, living trust|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on 10 Questions About Estate Planning, Living Trust, and Last Will

Preplan Funeral Expenses

Pre Need

Preplanning for Funeral Costs and Expenses

The final expense cost of regular adult funeral including basic items, can be significant. To give you a quick overview of the funeral costs, we’ve developed a quick chart.  Keep in mind, these basic items do not include cemetery costs, cemetery monuments, or grave marker costs – nor any other miscellaneous charges such as for funeral flowers or obituaries.

$1,595             Non-declinable basic services fee

$  233              Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home

$  550              Embalming

$  203              Other preparation of the body

$  406              Use of facilities/staff for viewing

$  463              Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony

$  251              Use of a hearse

$  120              Use of a service car/van

$  119              Basic memorial printed package

$2,255             Metal Casket

$1,128             Vault

Total Cost  $7,323

For  more information about specific Final Expense Costs or strategies to Prepay Funeral Expenses and End of Life Planning, you’ll find a wealth of information throughout our website, FuneralResources.com.

 

FREE End of Life Planning Guides

End of Life Guides

Creating a Love Drawer

Many financial professionals believe that life insurance should be referred to as “love insurance”. As cliché as this may sound, it certainly has a tremendous amount of merit. What better gift is there to give your family and loved ones upon your death than a large sum of money to be used for such things as income replacement, college tuition, retirement, taxes or estate taxes, charitable gifts, and much more? And if you really think about it, the last thing you would want to add to your family at the time of their emotional loss and grieving is financial pressure.

Watch this brief 2-minute video on why a “Love Drawer” is so important:

Most of us would agree, including financial professionals, that life insurance plays an large role in creating a sound comprehensive financial plan. So in keeping with this theme of love, here is an even better idea. How about also adding another layer of love towards your end of life plan – with a love drawer.

What Exactly Is a “Love Drawer”?

Simply put, a love drawer is a place where the person (or people) you choose can turn to, should you pass unexpectedly, to find all of your important information. This includes complete and instructions for all of the aspects of your life including things like your last wishes, financial affairs, special instructions, personal messages, and even your end-of-life plans and preferences.

What Key Information Should be Kept in This “Love Drawer”?

Below you will find a list of most (but certainly not all) of your personal and money matters that should be needed and addressed:

1. The firm name, address, and phone number of your Estate Planning Attorney
2. Your actual Last Will or Living Trust
3.  Insurance Information
4.  IRA’s and Life Insurance Information
5.  Investment Information
6.  Employer Information
7.  Social Security Statements
8.  Debts and Corresponding Contact Information
9.  Deeds or Titles
10.  Burial Wishes
11.  Love Notes
12. Any Other Important Documents and Vital Statistics

A Few Other Ideas – Our recommendation is that you tell at least three people who you love and trust where they can find this love drawer. These people can be anyone such as your spouse, parent, child, friend, or even your financial advisor or attorney. In addition, even though it may seem obvious, I would ask them to please respect your privacy and never open this drawer until it is absolutely necessary. These entrusted loved ones will be the ones who help ensure that someone will be there to step up promptly and act upon the details and instructions you have carefully assembled in your love drawer.

We encourage you to update this love drawer at least every two years. One of the few things we can guarantee in life is that things will change. Given the fact that we have many things in our lives that are constantly changing like taxes, estate taxes, family, age, health, wealth, our final wishes, etc., we should regularly review and revise this love drawer. These updates help to reflect any financial or personal matters that should be added, revised, or removed.

Receive our Free Guide – How to Create a Love Drawer

By |July 6th, 2010|Categories: end of life, vital statistics|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on FREE End of Life Planning Guides

Preplan Your Funeral

Funeral Costs

Top 10 Reasons to PrePlan Your Funeral

When You Die, Show Your Family How Much You Love Them…
Minimize Their Emotional and Financial Pressures

When you die, it should be obvious that your family and loved ones will be emotionally devastated as they try to cope with this grief and loss, but adding the stress of funeral costs and funeral plans is a burden you can help relieve.  So knowing these facts, one of the greatest gifts of love is to minimize (or preferably eliminate) as much of the emotional and financial pressures as possible.

The sad reality is that more than 70% of those who die today fail to leave behind as much as a Last Will for their family and loved ones.  As unacceptable as that may sound, it gets even worse.  More than 85% of those who die today leave their family with no knowledge of their end of life plans, preferences, or how to pay for their funeral expenses.

Top 10 Reasons to Preplan Your Funeral

1.  Upon your passing, most people don’t have any idea how to get started, what they should know, or who they can turn to.  If you preplan a funeral or burial arrangements, this significantly minimizes the stress and pressures that can accompany such a difficult time of grief and loss.

2.  This advanced planning offers you the opportunity to decide and control just about every detail of your memorial service and how you will be remembered.

3.  By documenting your last wishes, you can ensure that you and your remains are handled, cared for, and placed somewhere that fits you and your preference.

4.  By creating a plan for your final affairs, this can also minimize or eliminate any uncertainties or disputes among your family members. For example, one of the small details that can actually cause serious family disagreements are special family heirlooms.

5.  Preplanning takes the guesswork out of the common questions of “what do we do next” or “what would you have wanted”? A properly structured preplan ensures that your loved ones know exactly what to do, as well as instructions on how to most efficiently implement your bequests.

6.  After suffering the loss of a loved one, some of the biggest challenges your family will face are thing like time constraints, little or no experience with these matters, and limited access to the best possible help and guidance.  Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of creating a sound end of life plan is that, if it is properly structured, it can reduce (or even eliminate) the large majority of these difficulties.

7.  Through preplanning your funeral, as well as paying for your burial and covering your final expenses in advance, this creates a much better overall experience and memorial service for you, your family, and even your Funeral Director.

8.  Since preplanning reduces or avoids a great deal of the obstacles involved in planning a funeral, this extra time allows your family to work through other important matters such as dealing with the grief and loss, planning your memorial service, notifying your loved ones, creating your obituary, writing a funeral eulogy, etc.  The more free time your family has, the much more likely it is they can create a truly special celebration of your life and memories.

9.  After completing your preplanning preferences for your family, this actually ends up enhancing your future too. By having these details planned out in advance, you can now enjoy the “peace of mind” to live every day knowing that you have taken the time to leave behind one of the greatest gifts of love.

10.  By selflessly taking the time to create a comprehensive end of life plan, you will always be remembered in a special way. Your family and loved ones will never forget the fact that you sacrificed your time and resources to take care of these all-important details. In reality, what you’ve done is created an everlasting memory that shows just how much you truly love the ones you care most about.

Action Item – Give Your Family What They Deserve:

When it comes to the things that are important in our lives, proper planning and preparation are some of the key to a successful outcome.  In this situation, my sincere hope is that these 10 reasons serve as an inspiration and incentive to start this planning and preparation today, and become proactive about these all-important estate planning matters. 

Although most families never talk about these kinds of things, just about every family member and loved one would prefer to have these plans in place.  Quite frankly, I think they should demand this from you.  So at the very least, leave your family with two things they absolutely deserve:

1) A Last Will or Living Trust
2) A comprehensive end of life plan, which includes pre-arranging your final plans, preferences, and also your funeral costs

I can assure you that your family will thank you, see how much you loved and cared about them, and also remember your efforts as being one of the greatest gifts you have ever given them.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

How to Create an Solid End of Life Plan

End of Life Planning

Your Family-Focused Gift of Love

Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next. Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to.

Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating and choosing a Last Will or Living Trust.

However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family’s immediate concerns.

The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame…usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help them tremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.

Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time.  To preplan a funeral gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end of life plan.

When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:
* Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
* Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
* Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process
* Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
* Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
* Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
* Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
* Itemize your costs
* The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled “Caskets and Burial Vaults” (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.
* The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge.

What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?

Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging or a Pre Need Plan) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.

Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.

When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:

Savings

Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.

Life Insurance


Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.

In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.

Funeral Insurance

Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more.

Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies.

Pre-Need Trust Agreements

Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.

Take the First Step Today

In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Seven Ways Funeral Directors Can Help You Plan a Funeral

 Plan a Funeral

How a Funeral Director Can Help

You Plan a Funeral

After losing a close loved one back in 2008, I am constantly trying to find ways I can help both families and Funeral Directors find new ways to make the funeral planning process easier.  After working closely and researching extensively, I have learned a lot about how to plan a funeral and end of life planning industries.

However, since I am not a licensed Funeral Director, I have also focused on learning how challenging and meaningful of a role a Funeral Directors can play in a families life, and therefore, I have gained a tremendous amount of well-deserved respect and appreciation for a Funeral  Director’s selfless contribution to this valued public service.

So given the importance and sensitivity of this matter, I am not only constantly trying to learn more each day, but also searching for any possible new and innovative ways to help add value to this industry.

When I look back on my personal experience, below are some of the key things I truly believe would have helped my family as we worked through the many funeral planning challenges:

1.  I believe it would be helpful if the Funeral Director could give a brief history about their Funeral Home, Cemetery, as well as their personal background and experience.

This would help families learn more about choosing a funeral home or cemetery, funeral director, and feel more comfortable about the qualifications, experience, and credibility of who they are dealing with.

2.  I think it could be helpful if a Funeral Directors would ask if anyone involved has any history or experience with planning a funeral.

This would help the Funeral Director and the family, since this lets the Funeral Director know if they need to begin slowly, starting with the basics, or whether things could be a little easier and streamlined based on any past experience.

3.  Before the Funeral Director begins to review the basic outline of the funeral planning process, it would be helpful if they ask the family if they have any important questions on their mind that they feel like they need to find answers.

This allows the family members to ask about things that might be of concern, time-sensitive, or important to know regardless of the planning process.

4. The Funeral Director could explain the general outline of what the funeral planning process involves and what they will review and work on together. Ideally, this overall outline would be great to have in writing, so they can see it, read it, plan ahead, and follow along step-by-step.

This helps the families to get an idea of what to expect, and also begin thinking about the many funeral planning challenges.

5. The Funeral Director could tell the family members to feel free to interrupt him/her at any time, and ask any questions that come to mind, no matter how basic or uncomfortable they might feel.

This helps families feel like it is OK to ask questions, since from my personal experience, I was very reluctant to ask things that I now wish I had.

6.  After the funeral planning process, the Funeral Director could find a way to help families learn about some of the new and popular memorial technology tools, resources, services, and funeral home services. In fact, I would even recommend offering families a printed list of these options so you can talk about them with the families, or simply let them research these things on their own to find out more.

In addition to the common funeral home services such as funeral programs, caskets, cremation urns, funeral flowers, etc., I firmly believe that families should also be aware of some of the new and increasingly popular new memorial technology tools such as Funeral Webcasting, Video Tribute, Memorial Website, Memorial Reefs, Memorial Diamonds, and the amazing new Gravestone Technology that includes microchips which can now show pictures and tell stories.

Why not let every family know about all of these options? If  families don’t choose to add these to their funeral or memorial planning, they are still better off from knowing these options were available.  And if families do find these options to helpful tools that can allow them to better heal, remember, and pay a special tribute to a loved one, everyone wins!

7.  Last, I would suggest Funeral Directors consider providing every family with helpful details, such as these below, at the end of their funeral planning discussion:

– Key things to consider when planning a memorial service
– Several phone numbers to contact for any questions or concerns, 24/7
– Grief support information, grief books, and local grief support
– Information on how to give a eulogy, funeral etiquette, how to write an obituary, and other common families needs
– Contact information on Charitable Organizations, and ways to help families donate funds “in lieu of funeral flowers”
– Key reasons and benefits to consider an End of Life Plan, and where they can go to learn more
– Names and contact information for people who you recommend that would be willing to help offer free advice for any financial planning matters, such as funeral estate planning, tax planning, wealth management, etc.

Again, these are just some thoughts I had after looking back on my personal experience, as well as some of the details I have found that most families are searching for – and today this is being done largely on the Internet.

I truly hope this helps both families and Funeral Directors, as I continue my quest to make this difficult process easier!

Chris Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Funerals for Children

Grief and Loss

Funerals For Children

Losing a child is never easy even when the child is not your own. Children are the hope for the future and should have so much of their life ahead of them. When a child is lost so are the dreams and the hopes of the future. It seems unnatural to be taking care of any end of life arrangements of a child. Because of this, many funeral homes don’t display caskets, burial vaults, or items related to child loss.  There is for many a sense of loss of innocence when a child dies. Expectations are cut short, and the deep, unexpected grief and loss of the parents of the child is an additional factor that makes taking care of the child and the family difficult.

Here are some things you might do to take care of yourself while helping a family who has lost a child:

Be Prepared: Mentally prepare yourself that eventually it will be your task to help a family who has lost a child. We tend to push things out of our minds that are extremely unpleasant. Spend some time thinking about what you need to help yourself during this time. It is easier to plan ahead when you are not emotionally involved at the moment.

Be Aware Of Triggers: If you have children be aware that a loss of a child around the age of your children might affect you more. For some it is easy to think that the deceased child could be my child lying on the table. Remind yourself that your child(ren) are healthy and alive. Stop yourself from thinking in terms of the “What If’s”, and realize that your being so affected can help others feel your compassion.

Delve Into Your Spirituality: Even though you work with death every day are you comfortable with what happens to the spirit after a person dies? Do you have a strong faith system? Does it encompass the loss of a child? The more you are secure in your belief system the less rattled you might be at the time of a death of a child. Your stability will be an asset the family of the child can draw upon during the funeral service.

Have Resources Available: The loss of a child tends to bring out the community in force. Make sure to have avenues for people to express their grief. They will rely on you less if they have other places of support. Some items to keep on hand would be:

  • Online Journal with a guestbook. People can write in the guestbook at your funeral home, from home or school. It is accessible 24/7.
  • Grief Therapists and others who can help people through the grieving process can be written out and can be placed on tables or given out at the service.
  • Virtual Candles can be put on your website for families to light at the wake, service or at a later date.

Finally, remember to stick to the basics. Remember to eat complete meals three times a day. Put away the sugar and the chips. Drink lots of water and skip the caffeine and alcohol. Rest as much as you possibly can. Fatigue exacerbates difficult situations so when you can take a quick nap. If a child’s death is still affecting you after a month or two consider talking to a your doctor or seek grief counseling. Even those in the funeral profession need and can consult outside professionals to help them through emotionally trying times.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Children and Death

Grief and Loss

Children at the Deathbed

The topic of children and death is a hard one for many people in our society.  Keeping kids sheltered is thought to protect the children so that they will not suffer as much.  However, when we keep children away from a dying family member or don’t allow kids to attend a funeral we cut them off from the cycle of life. In addition, children realize they have been “left out” and because of this, some children can grow up feeling excluded in other important activities as they go through life.

One of the important ways children learn about death is through socialization. If we do not allow our children to socialize and learn the process of death, then they will not know about coping with loss when they are adults. Death is a natural part of life. In this instance, it most likely will not be as traumatic for these children to be with their mom as you might think–as long as you discuss what death is and where people go after they die. Since discussing death in our western society is a difficult subject for people, this topic is usually handled with evasiveness. Encourage the family of the children to discuss the death of their mother openly and honestly. Be sure to answer any questions the children ask honestly using correct terminology.

The kids are going to comprehend death differently depending on their ages and stages of grief. The seven year old in this case perceives death differently then his/her siblings. Children ages four to seven DO know something is wrong. They think in black and white so it is very important for the adults not to say something like “Mommy is going to heaven in an airplane.” The child will literally think this is happening. The older children can think in conceptual terms and do understand people die and go elsewhere.

I would suggest to the family that they utilize their local hospice, if there is one. The nurses through hospice are wonderful people who can explain in detail to the children the process of death and what might happen at each stage. They will know age appropriate words and concepts. They often can predict the time of death fairly closely.  Sometimes dying people see loved ones that have passed away in the room with them and they might talk to them. Dying people can hear music that no one else hears and/or they may see sparkling lights. Prepare the children for end of life behaviors that have happened to others dying for similar reasons.

Having the kids present can help their healing down the road. I would make sure to have them part of a grief support group or they seek some form of professional grief support. One final thing to note is people don’t always choose to die with others present. Some people wish to die alone and will wait to pass until is someplace else, or it is the middle of the night.

Remember that the children need to honor their own feelings, as well as that of their mother. If they want to be at her bedside, then make that possible for them. If they do not want to be there, allow them to feel good about their decision to stay away. Either way, there should be no guilt involved with the choices the children make.

Death is hard regardless if you are in the room with the person or not. Assist your family to know what supports are available to them.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

End of Life Conversations and Understanding

End of Life, Death, and Dying

Death and End of Life are

the Great Equalizers

No matter what we believe, what we have or have not studied, how young or how old we are, the end result of life is death. All of us are going to die. All of us will have the same journey to reach a new level of being. Therefore, it would be a great opportunity for compassion to understand those around the world, no matter what color, what country, or what religion, to realize that we are the same – and we are going to do the same thing as every other. Yes, unfortunately we will all die some day.

How will that affect what I think, how I treat others? What if someone wants a cremation rather than a funeral? Can I accept that concept? (For example, cremation is the norm, not the exception, in Asian countries.) How do I feel about the burial of a body within twenty-four hours, with no cremation or embalming? How do I feel about some religions that do not allow women to come to the funeral of a man?

There are as many different customs and rituals to plan a funeral as there are different religious belief systems. Many times I hear of funeral directors that are doing amazing things to help their families that have a different funeral ritual than what many in America have called “the traditional” memorial service. It would be impossible to learn all the rituals, but that may not be important. Perhaps the bigger question is have you as a funeral director thought of your own comfort level to the rituals common in other cultures or belief systems?  Ask yourself if you are opened minded enough to foster different services, and to be at ease during those services.

To help ponder these end of life planning matters here are a few questions and exercises to help you discover your comfort level.

1. When is the last time you had a service in your funeral home that was different than you traditionally hold? For example, did you serve a family that was Hindu but you are traditionally a Christian firm? How did that service make you feel? Comfortable? Out of place? Wishing it was over quickly?

2. When you are presented with something that is out of your comfort zone how do you cope with the situation? Do you have systems in place to help you process the new information?

3. What resources do you have in your community to help you learn about other cultures and their burial practices? Would you be willing to have someone from a different culture come and teach you and those you work with about their rituals and needs?

4. How can you expand your services to include “new” forms of service to families you have not ministered to before?

5. Can you discuss with friends and colleagues what they have done to incorporate the needs of other cultures? Can you be open and dialogue about how comfortable/uncomfortable you can be with opening your business and your psyche to something different?

Funeral Service is a great profession that gives service to people in need. If you can find great compassion for that ritual you do not know about, or agree with, you will not only be assisting your families, but yourself. Because, after all, we are all going to do the same thing –die, right?  It is the people left on earth who make it look like we are not doing the same thing…but we are!

In today’s world, we need to find our commonness, that which makes us the same, rather than focus on differences. You are in a rare business to recognize you are the one that can create harmony and understanding across cultures. You, of all people, know what we are like in death, and that we all face it alike, and all those left behind feel the same grief and loss.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Terminal Illness Considerations and Planning

Terminal Illness

Helpful Considerations When

Facing a Terminal Illness

No one wants to talk about death or dying. Nor do they want to think about how to plan a funeral for someone they love, especially if they have not passed. Although extremely difficult, planning the funeral arrangements of a loved one who has been diagnosed as terminally ill is one of the best decisions you can make. However, we strongly encourage you to seek professional help!

When you combine the death of someone you care for with wanting to make the right end of life decisions, especially given the fact that you have a limited amount of time to attend to all the details, it usually leaves many families feeling overwhelmed.

Our Funeral Advisors, Family Counselors, and Funeral Directors can help answer some of the more common, and more difficult, questions that people have about many of the funeral planning challenges that may lie ahead.  They can also help guide you to become empowered by providing you with the information and resources you need – and deserve – to know.

Facing a terminal illness and loss is hard enough to deal with, but the end of life planning shouldn’t be. At your time of need, our nationwide network of pre-screened Funeral Advisors/Directors/Counselors are here to both educate and assist you in making the best possible decisions.

 

How to Find the Right Funeral Home Help and Funeral Home Services

 Find Funeral Help

Find a Pre-Screened and Qualified™

Funeral Professional Near You

To plan a funeral is widely recognized as an extremely difficult task, mainly because you are trying to cope with a combination of difficult decisions that usually involve your emotions, finances, religion, conflicting opinions, grief and loss, and time constraints. Therefore, when it comes to end of life planning for something so important, we strongly encourage you to seek the help of one of our Funeral Professionals:

What to Look for in a Funeral Professional:

  • Work through arrangements with the next of kin or responsible party
  • Clearly explain all the services they can provide, as well as those services they cannot help you with
  • Help coordinate the appropriate funeral home services and merchandise
  • Provide informative, educational, and compassionate advice and support
  • Assist in all forms of counseling with the family including planning, budget analysis, grief support, as well as legal services and connections
  • Review all of your financial options, work within your budget, as well as review their General Price List (which is required to be disclosed and readily available by state regulations as well as the Federal Trade Commission)
  • Discuss your options regarding transportation and choosing your preferred funeral home or cemetery
  • Help in your decision for burial or cremation options
  • Provide assistance with funeral options such as preparation of remains, embalming, restorative art, etc.
  • Help coordinate the use of their facilities to assist with memorial services, use of their chapel, hearse, etc.
  • Conduct cemetery or graveside burial service
  • Perform the funeral service
  • Coordinate your funeral plans with religious affiliations such as your Church, Synagogue, Catholic Funeral Planning, etc.

Three Main Reasons Families Seek Funeral Planning Help Online

Funeral Planning Help

Three Most Common Reasons Families

Need Help Planning a Funeral

There are three common situations where families need funeral planning information, guidance, and support:

1. A loved one has recently passed:

One of the best ways to reduce the stress and pressure involved when you need to plan a funeral is to make sure you’re well prepared. This involves being able to access helpful information, people, places, and resources.  It also helps to start with a plan.

FuneralResources.com is solely designed to help you find complete details regarding everything you need to know when facing any type of funeral planning. Our goal is to help you organize this process and ensure educated and clear decision-making, as well as provide access to pre-screened funeral homes and professionals.

2. A loved one has been diagnosed as terminally ill:

There is usually a tremendous amount of chaos surrounding funeral planning, especially when the loved one in question has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  At such a time, you will likely be overcome with grief and loss, and need someone slightly more removed from your loved one, such as professional grief counseling, to act objectively and handle the many options and responsibilities of planning a funeral in advance.

Key considerations when faced with a terminal illness:

a) Review the Last Will of your loved one to learn of any special or unique arrangements they might have in place. The goal here is to find any plans or preferences regarding their end of life planning, as well as to see if they might have accomplished any preplanning.

b) If established, be sure to review their Living Will and Advanced Medical Directives. These documents can become extremely important in the event certain difficult health circumstances arise. The goal of these documents is to ensure their last wishes are carried out by the people closest to them in the event they become physically or mentally incapable of making these choices on their own.

c) If everyone mutually agrees that the Last Will or Living Trust is not going to be discussed or reviewed until after death, we strongly suggest that you consult with a funeral estate planning attorney to review the Last Will and identify if there are any special instructions concerning their last wishes.

d) Inform certain key people of what likely lies ahead including immediate family, friends and relatives, co-workers, insurance companies, a family doctor, the Cemetery or other burial place, other organizations such as churches, social clubs, etc.

3. Preplanning your end-of-life plans and preferences

In the past, planning for your death in advance was considered to be taboo. Today, preplanning a funeral and the accompanying arrangements is a popular decision and should be considered an important part of planning for the future. There are many reasons to consider learning more about the 3 ways to preplan a funeral. The most important reason is because it reduces or eliminates the emotional and financial pressure of making difficult decisions during life’s most challenging circumstances. In addition, prearrangements also let you choose exactly how you want to be memorialized and allows for personal preferences in all aspects of the funeral service. Not only is this becoming a widely accepted part of a sound comprehensive financial plan, but we firmly believe this is one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones.

 

End of Life Planning Personal Story

End of Life

My Personal Story…

That’s Not So Easy To Share…

I would like to ask you to please spend some time reading this personal story of mine.  I am FULLY confident that you will find something in this story, some special message, that will make your life better, and end up being worth a few minutes of your time.

When it comes to financial planning, I will spare you the boring details about the importance of having a plan in place for the unexpected, using products and strategies like Umbrealla Policies, Life Insurance, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Disability Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance. etc.

In the past I might have boasted about how well-versed and experienced I was with helping my clients design and create strategies to protect my clients, and my own family, against the unexpected.  But the truth is, my life has been forever changed since I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day of 2008.

Looking Back…

Since nobody in my family had ever really dealt with losing a “close” family member before, we had no idea what to expect.  In fact, we didn’t know and we didn’t plan for this outcome in any way, simply because we never once thought about – or talked about = being in that situation.

Once my mother became sick, the thought never crossed our minds to talk about what would happen “afterwards”.  Truthfully, in those situations, talking about someone’s death is an unspoken, unlikely, and unacceptable outcome that never crossed your mind.  All you can think about, and all you can talk about, is how they are going to be ok.  They will make it.  Stay strong.  You have loving family, friends, and medical support – all of which will help you get through this.

After she passed, I can vividly remember that feeling of being so confused, uncertain, and disappointed.  Why?  Because I didn’t know what to do next, or who to turn to.  I also remember realizing that I didn’t know the any of the details regarding what my mother would have really wanted with regards to her end of life plans and preferences.  Why?  Because I did not have the courage to ask while she was still alive and healthy.  Once she back sick, it was simply never the right time to discuss death or dying.

Even after almost 5 years now, I still don’t feel comfortable talking about it.   But what I do feel comfortable talking about is what happened after.

What Happens After a Loved One Passes?

My next memory is, right about the time the enormity of the situation was just starting to sink in, we were sitting in a local Funeral Home, surrounded by various types of caskets and cremation urns, reviewing a two-sided legal page (General Price List) which is filled with countless options on how to plan a funeral – all of which probably add up to well over $200,000.

Now please keep in mind that, at that time, the last thing in the world any of us wanted to talk about or think about was planning a funeral and memorial service, much less having to make decisions regarding any of the financial aspects.

Things I Bet You Never Thought About…

Here is a list of some other funeral planning challenges we faced that.  Keep in mind that, like our family, all of these decisions are usually made within a period of a few days, and with little or no education or professional guidance:

  • How do we determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
  • How do we arrange and notify family members and/or loved ones who live out of town?  Who contacts who?
  • How do we determine exactly what type of memorial service is most appropriate?  Do you celebrate a life?  Do you mourn?
  • Knowing whether there was a preference to be cremated or buried?
  • Choosing among many different types of caskets or urns?
  • Where should the final resting place be for the cremated remains?
  • How should our plans and preferences work with regards to your religion?  Which Church?  Which Priest?
  • Who should be invited, and how do you locate all their names and numbers?
  • Who will pay for these funeral expenses, and how will this be paid for?
  • Who will give a eulogy at the memorial service?  Who will do a reading?
  • What is funeral etiquette with regards to dress, time, date, day?
  • Will there be a gathering after the memorial service?  If so, who should be invited?
  • How do you place an obituary? What should it say?  Who should handle this?
  • Do you want to request funeral flowers or donations?
  • Choosing among pictures, funeral music, videos, and much, much more…

 

It is Time For Change…

They say “everything happens for a reason“.  Well, even though I believe there is never a valid “reason” to lose a loved one, I can say that this experience has opened my eyes to a lot of things that have previously gone unnoticed.   And as time passes, the one thing in particular that is becoming crystal clear is the fact people and families need to prepare their end of life plans and preferences in advance.

In all my years of financial education and training, I have never once heard someone so much as talk about how to help the families we serve by encouraging them to create an end of life plan.

Well my friends, it is time for change.  Maybe losing my mother is the “reason” and inspiration behind my serious movement to help families make a difficult situation easier.

So from this day forward, I will be seeking the help the finest associations, organizations, and people in the funeral and financial planning industries.  Along with their help, I am going to be speaking loudly, boldly, and clearly, about the need for change when it comes to financial, retirement, and estate planning.  There is a missing piece to the financial puzzle that needs to be fixed, which is helping families Create an End of Life Celebration Plan.

How to Create Your End of Life Celebration Plan…

Below is a link to four guides I have put together that will help you learn more about how to create your End of Life Celebration Plan:

 
In the financial planning industry, it is very rare that a financial advisor can use the word “guarantee“.   And usually the word “guarantee” needs to be accompanied by a prospectus and/or extensive legal disclaimers, documents, and details.

However, when you look at this from a real-life experience like I now can, financial advisors actually have something that we can guarantee every client – which is the fact that some day you will die.  Regrettably, this may happen much sooner than anyone could ever imagine or plan.  But regardless of the timing, some day your life will end.  So begins the two all-important questions…

We All Have Two Choices…

1.  Continue to Do Nothing

Do not plan for this guaranteed outcome in any way.  After reading this article, you are well aware of the fact that you will be leaving your family behind to unnecessarily suffer through a tremendous amount of difficult emotional and financial decisions, during an extremely difficult time, in addition to coping with their grief and loss over your death.

2.  Pre-arrange and/or Pre-Pay Today…

Set aside the time, put in the effort, and create your End of Life Celebration plan that you would want – and that your family deserves.  If you are ready to take this step, here are some easy options:

1.  Call (800) 379-2511 to speak with a Licensed Funeral Counselor
2.  Email me at info@funeralresources.com
3.  Visit this page www.funeralreosurces.com/funeral-help
4.  Complete this easy 10 question survey in about a minute:  www.funeralresources.com/funeral-help-survey

My Mission Going Forward…

My passion is to take this personal experience, learn from it, and turn it into a positive experience through helping other families make a difficult situation easier.  Helping families become more educated, empowered, and most importantly, more prepared.  My hope and prayer is that I can make my mother very proud one day.  I pray that some day she looks down and sees that her never-ending selfless love and legacy will live forever, and that her death has become an inspiration to help others.

Preplanning is Not Fun or Easy…

Like many of the best things in life, nothing good comes easy. So as you would expect, talking about. thinking about, and planning about death and dying is not fun.  However, a legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said;

“The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the
amount of time and preparation put into planning for the future.”

A Gift You Give – and Receive…

After all, what better gift can you leave your family than showing them that you selflessly made time, took that extra step, and sacrificed a small part of your life to show how much you love them. Imagine knowing that one of the last memories you leave behind is that your family knew that you did everything possible to make their lives better.  What memory could be better?

After sharing my own personal experience, I hope you can see that this kind of unselfish love actually provides you a huge gift too, and that gift is called peace of mind.

Lastly, I hope watching this video helps too…

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
www.funeralresources.com

Your End of Life Plan is the Gift of a Lifetime

End of Life Plan

Creating an End of Life Plan…

And Leaving the Gift of a Lifetime!

Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in America who is speaking about one of the most important plans you can create, an End of Life Plan. The harsh reality is that very few individuals, families, or even financial professionals are regularly teaching, practicing, or implementing End of Life Plans.

Nothing Good Comes Easy

Why is that that more than 80% of people in America die without leaving behind their End of Life Plan and preferences?  I believe it is because these are the only types of plans that directly addresses death and dying.  Therefore, most people would prefer to overlook or ignore this type of conversation.  The problem is that, in doing so, you are leaving these matters to your spouse, children, and/or family members – to pile on top of what is already one of the most difficult times of their lives.

The fact of the matter is that an End of Life Plan should be a standard and routine part of a comprehensive financial  or retirement plan.  Period.  It is the missing piece to the financial services puzzle that needs to be fixed.

Fact:  Some Day You Will Die

Sure, the last thing any of us want to do is talk or think about is how to plan a funeral. And this is not just “a funeral”, but rather your own personal funeral.  So I get it.  I fully understand why an End of Life Plan is not such an easy and comfortable discussion.  However, some day every single one of us will die (hopefully later versus sooner), but we will die.  So this means that “someone” is going to be forced to deal with planning your End of Life Plan and preferences.

So ask yourself this question; “Would you rather take care of your final arrangements yourself, or leave it to your loved ones who are already suffering from the grief and loss of your death compounding insult to injury?”

We all know for a fact, with absolute certainty, that we are all going to die some day, right?  So why is it that most people are not talking about this?  Why are financial planners not learning the best ways to plan their clients and families for their inevitable death?  Why is it that, at the very least, everyone is not taking a few minutes to simply document their End of Life Plans and preferences for our loved ones?

 

Financial Planners Should Encourage an End of Life Plan

In addition to being the Founder of this website, I have worked as financial planner for over 23 years and currently own my own Wealth Management practice.

I mention this because, for the most part, the financial planning industry overlooks and ignores End of Life Plans, Pre Need Plans, and Final Expense Plans.  These plans are not widely-recognized as an all-important additions to a comprehensive financial and retirement plan.

To prove this point, here is a fact:  Prior to losing a loved one and experiencing how to plan a funeral myself, I had never heard some talked about this subject.  This includes all of my 20+ years of studying, training, attending classes, getting licenses and certifications, and more.

How About You and Your Financial Plan?

Has your financial planner discussed this with you? Does your financial plan include your End of Life Plans and preferences?  Are these details documented and written down in a safe place?  Do you currently have a plan in place for your pre-arranged funeral or cemetery arrangements?  Have you created a plan to specifically designate which monies will prepay funeral expenses and funeral costs?  Do the people you love know what you really want?  Have you notified them regarding the fact that you have taken care of these End of Life Plan details?  Do they know where these plans and details are located?

You are Not Alone

If you do not currently have an End of Life Plan in place, you are not alone.  Given my personal experience, I can tell you that losing my mother was, by far, the toughest day of my life. And like our situation, here is what happens in most cases.  Just about the time when it starts to “sink in” that your loved one is really gone, and your emotions begin to elevate, all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a Funeral Home or Cemetery, reviewing all of their funeral home services and planning a funeral.  This is probably the last thing anyone wants to be doing during a difficult time like this. 

Just Some of the Funeral Planning Challenges

• How do you transport the body?  Where do you transport it?  How soon?
• What vital statistics do we need to gather, and how soon?
• How soon afterwards should the funeral and/or memorial service be?
• How do you determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
• What if the deceased lives out of town?
• Sitting down with a Funeral Director to review all the details and options
• Try to figure out what your loved one “would have wanted”
• Making some incredibly difficult financial decisions
• Trying to figure out what type of memorial service your loved one “would have wanted”
• Did they want to be cremation or traditional burial?
• Choosing among many different types of caskets or cremation urns
• Where should the final resting place of their body or ashes be?
• How do you coordinate this with your religion/Church?
• Who should be invited, and how do you invite them?
• Arranging travel and accommodation plans for out-of-town guests
• Who will give the funeral eulogyHow to give a eulogy?
• How will this be paid for?  Were there any burial insurance or funeral insurance policies?
• Who will speak at the memorial services? Which songs and prayers do you use?
• Do you have a gathering afterwards?
• How do you place an obituary? Who does this?
• Do you want funeral flowers or donations?
• Arranging funeral programs, sending “thank you” cards, and much more…

End of Life Plans Save Money

Another huge benefit to creating an End of Life Plan is that, in addition to saving your family from going through emotional challenges and making difficult decisions, you could very likely save your family thousands – or even millions – of dollars. The reason why is when someone dies, there are many financial matters that accompany the funeral planning such as funeral estate planning, estate taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, insurance policy proceeds, investments, real estate, bank accounts, mortgages, other debts, and much more.

Plan Now – Don’t Wait!

A wise man once said, “The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the amount of time and preparation put into preparing for the future.”  By creating a solid End of Life Plan – and then adding this as a part of a sound and comprehensive financial plan – nothing could be further from the truth!

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Funeral and Death Estate Planning – Last Wills Versus Living Trusts

Funeral Estate Planning

The Differences Between a Last Will and Living Trust?

Which One is Best For You?

 

Who Should Have a Last Will?

The sad truth is that most financial advisors and estate planning attorney’s will tell you that approximately 70% of Americans die without and End of Life Plan or Last Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament.  In my opinion, this is totally unacceptable! Why? Because I am fully confident that most of us:

• Truly love our family and loved ones
• Would prefer not to place any unnecessary or additional burden on our loved ones during a time of terrible emotional loss

Please allow me to explain why funeral estate planning is so important. Should you pass without so much as a Last Will, the unfortunate reality is that state law will determine how your property is distributed, as well as take control of your estate if you should you become disabled or incompetent.

The Statute Called “The Law of Intestate”

The best way I have found to describe intestate is simply; “having a lawsuit with your state of domicile over the management of your estate”. Put another way, it will not be you or your family who ultimately decides what happens to your assets, your children, and your financial legacy – but rather your state, the government, and your least favorite uncle – Uncle Sam.

I think it is safe to say that your personal wishes for the disposition of your money, children, estate, well-being, and how you want to be remembered would not be exactly the same as that of your state or local government. Therefore, dying without a Last Will is going to put your family through an extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive ordeal…at a time when they should be focusing on celebrating your life and the wonderful memories you’ve left behind.

So I think you can reasonably conclude that I firmly believe that everyone, regardless of your net worth, marital status, or age, should have a fully completed and executed Last Will!

Why? Creating a Last Will accomplishes two extremely important things for both you and your family. First, it helps protect you against scenarios in the event something happens unexpectedly such as a disability, incapacity, severe accident, coma, amnesia, etc. Second, as I mentioned above, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones by making this difficult period easier, less emotional, time-consuming, expensive, and uncertainty.

Why Would Someone Choose a Living Trust?

Most Estate Planning Attorneys will agree that a better and more useful funeral estate planning tool is using a Living Trust, also known as a Revocable Living Trust.

One of the most common questions most families ask is “What are the advantages of creating a Living Trust versus a Last Will”?  Well, although a properly structured Last Will is a “must-have”, one of the biggest disadvantages with having a simple Last Will is that it must go through probate.

What is Probate?

Probate is a court supervised procedure by which the court ensures that the assets governed by your Last Will are valued properly, the debts of your estate are paid off, and the remaining assets are properly distributed to the persons named in your Last Will.

The probate process is typically a negative experience, to say the least. Here’s why:

It is expensive. Legal and executor fees and other costs must be paid from your estate before anything can go to your heirs. The costs are usually estimated at 1-5% of the gross value of an estate (before debts are paid).
It takes time. Often 1-2 years or longer, depending on your state. During this time, assets are usually frozen and nothing can be distributed or sold without the courts approval. If your family needs money to live, they may have to ask the court for a living allowance, which the court may or may not approve.
Your family has no privacy. Probate files are open to the public, so anyone (including a business competitor) can see what you owned and whom you owed. This knowledge can also invite disgruntled heirs to contest your Last Will.
Your family has no control. The probate process controls, and it can be very frustrating for your family to have to pay for the court to tell them who gets what money and when. This frustration very often leads to family feuds, disputes, and family members may even choose to contest the Will.

So as you can see, probate can be a very emotional and difficult process. If you ask anyone who has been through the probate process (like my father), they will very likely tell you it is something you want to avoid at all costs if possible.

That is why many families choose a Living Trust, also called a Revocable Living Trust. A Trust, if drafted by a seasoned Estate Planning Attorney, can be a comprehensive document that will allow you to avoid many of the challenges when handling a deceased estate, such as:

  • Avoid the probate process
  • It is extremely hard to contest
  • Can potentially reduce or eliminate estate taxes
  • Will preserve your privacy
  • Expedite the distribution of your estate
  • Allows parents of small children (like myself) to give specific instructions to the Trustee or Guardians as to when to make distributions to the children, what they can use the money for, and at what ages to begin letting the children have control over some (or all) of the monies
  • Many other challenges such as special needs, special instructions, multiple marriage situations, etc.

 

So Which Is Better…A Last Will or a Living Trust?

The reality is there is no exact answer to this question, simply because either a Last Will or a Living Trust can be deemed as most effective, but largely depends on each families personal situation is unique. Therefore, as with any decision that is extremely important to your financial future, the best way to make the right choice is to seek the help of qualified and credible Estate Planning Attorney who can help you determine whether a Last Will or a Living Trust makes the most sense.

One last suggestion that is very important is making sure you work closely together with both your Financial Advisor and Estate Planning Attorney when determining your most appropriate wealth transfer strategy. The reason why this is so important is because you need to ensure that, whether you create a Last Will or a Living Trust, this document is not only established correctly, but also that it is properly coordinated and integrated with the rest of your comprehensive financial plan.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to be proactive, and take the first steps towards completing this necessary part of your financial and funeral estate planning.

Personally, I am proud to say that my family and I have completed our Funeral Estate Planning, as well as coordinated it with our comprehensive financial plan.  This helps me sleep better at night knowing I have created this all-important gift for my family…and I truly wish the same for you!

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com
www.funeralresources.com

By |January 2nd, 2010|Categories: Blog, Death, end of life, Funeral Estate Planning, Funeral Planning, Last Will, last will and testament, living trust, revocable living trust|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Funeral and Death Estate Planning – Last Wills Versus Living Trusts

5 Easy Steps to Create Your End of Life Plan

End of Life Plan Steps

5 Easy Steps Create an End of Life Plan

The Greatest Gift Your Family Will Always Remember

Live As If There’s No Tomorrow

The truth is nobody likes to talk about death or dying.  However, the unfortunate reality is that all of us will be forced to deal with this difficult situation at some point, and often times it happens when we least expect it.

Another harsh reality is that the large majority of financial professionals and families overlook or ignore the importance of incorporating a smart end of life plan as a part of a comprehensive financial plan.

I firmly believe that nobody would ever want their family and loved ones to have to deal with any unnecessary emotional and financial decisions (or costly expenses), during what could arguably be the worst times of their life.  However, yet another harsh reality is that over 70% of people who die fail to leave their family and loved ones as much as a basic Will, also called a Last Will and Testament.

Use These 5 Easy Steps:

I’ve put together 5 easy steps that should help every family improve their financial plan, simply by adding these key pieces of a smart end of life plan:

1.  Finish your Last Will or Living Trust, Living Will and other end of life directives.

2.  Complete our FREE Family Record Guide, which contains funeral plans including:

• A budget for the funeral costs that will be involved
• Your preference on a burial or cremation
• The location of your burial, or where you wish your ashes scattered
• Decide if you want a large memorial service or a small one
• Pre-arrange the caskets or cremation urns you like
• Choose officiates and others you want to run or speak at your service
• Pick the funeral music and Video Tribute you wish to have played
• What you would want engraved on your tombstone

3.  Create a “love drawer”, which is a central location where you keep all your end of life plans mentioned above. Choose someone to tell, and update it every two years.

4.  Consider using funeral insurance, such as pre need or final expense plans, which are specifically designed to pre-pay for all of your plans and funeral expenses

5.  Take advantage of the new memorial technology tools such as:

• Consider funeral webcasting on the Internet, so everyone possible can “attend”
• Build your own personal DVD Video Tribute, complete with songs and pictures
• Create and design a memorial website, who loved ones can share together online

Benefits to You and Your Family

By taking these steps now and creating your end of life plan in advance, you are sending your family a very strong message – which says that you cared enough to make this difficult time a little easier.  Not only with they thank you, but they will remember this selfless gift of love forever!

Chris Hill, Founder
https://funeralresources.com

Funeral Music and Top Funeral Songs

Funeral Music

Funeral Planning and

Funeral Music Considerations

You cannot lose sight of the fact that when you have to plan a funeral, without sounding selfish, the reality is that this celebration is all about you.  Therefore, you have every right to request a grand celebration with lots of fun, laughing, dancing, and funeral music.  Some of us may not want the typical “traditional funeral” and accompanying “traditional funeral songs”.  If people know you for your great sense of humor, then you may choose to have your loved ones laugh and have fun rather than spend this special day crying over sad funeral songs and videos.  The fact of the matter is you only get one chance, so it is really your opportunity to create that “special time to be remembered”.

So if you are ready to preplan a funeral and your end of life plans and preferences, this certainly includes choosing the “right” funeral music.  The most important thing to focus on here is this:  make sure the funeral music you’ve selected fits you, and how your loved ones remember you.  This can be very therapeutic for everyone since music can dramatically heighten the ability of your loved ones to connect the great memories of those moments they shared with you. Keep in mind that you probably don’t want your loved to be bombarded with sad funeral songs during your memorial service. Music is inspiring and can be used to help remember the joy a passed loved one brought to their lives.

Who Says it Has to be Sad Funeral Music?

So, just because it’s your funeral doesn’t mean that it has to be accompanied by your typical funeral hymns, sad songs, and lots of tears.  Since you have the ability to preplan these details in advance, why not help your loved ones by telling them exactly what type of funeral music planning you prefer, and will comfort them, along with other elements of the ceremony.  Heck, you may choose to throw the farewell celebration of a lifetime.  For example, maybe you wish to have one of your favorite bands play?  Or maybe just simply crank up the rock n’ roll music on the stereo and dance all night?  Regardless of what you choose, please do yourself and your family a favor – document your funeral music planning along with all of your other preferences now here:

 

Our Top 15 Favorite Funeral Songs:

1.   Amazing Grace

2.  The Grace of God, Patti Austin

3.  My Way, Frank Sinatra

4.  Let it Be, The Beatles

5.  Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

6.  She’s Finally Home, Cissy

7.  I’ve Had the Time of my Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

8.  Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw

9.  Candle in the Wind, Elton John

10.  What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong and Kenny G

11.  I Hope You Dance, Joe Dee Messina

12.  Imagine, John Lennon

13.  Unforgettable, Nat King Cole

14.  You are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder

15.  Amazing Grace, Elvis Presley

 

Funeral Planning is Turning to the Internet

Funeral Planning

Families are Searching the Internet for

Funeral Planning Help

Although nobody likes to talk about death or dying, the reality is there are thousands of people every day who are faced with one of the most difficult decisions they can make throughout their lifetime.  For most families faced with the need to plan a funeral, they almost always begin by searching for the answer to the following question: “What do we do now?”

To get answers regarding funeral planning information, more and more families are turning to the Internet, especially given today’s new funeral and memorial technology tools available today.

Here are some eye-opening statistics that should make Funeral Directors, Funeral Homes, and Cemeteries adjust their business plans to make sure they include an Internet presence:

•    83% of families today are turning to the Internet to plan a funeral
•    There are nearly 300 million funeral–related keyword searches each month on Google
•    87% of people will research a company online before doing business
•    84% of online reviews influence buying decisions
•    Last year those ages 50+ accessing the Internet grew by over 100%

At FuneralResources.com, we believe that a quality funeral planning resource should provide families the answers they are searching for, as well as easy access the credible funeral home services, people, and products they need and deserve.

How can funeral resources online accomplish this?  First, they must contain valuable and real-life articles, information, as well as funeral planning and end of life planning resources that help families who are planning a funeral or memorial service.  This information and resources should be specifically designed to help families learn, prepare, and become more educated and empowered.

Second, if a Funeral Professional chooses to become associated with an online funeral services provider, they should find one with a “Pre-Screened and Qualified™” process.  This exclusive process is designed to ensure that their Members meet specific criteria which will likely increase the confidence families have in determining the credibility as funeral professionals.

And third, they must have different funeral services directories for all of the various funeral services families are searching for to plan a funeral.  Member listings should be equipped with innovative funeral and memorial technology that includes important details such as their full contact information, website, services provided, driving directions, sending funeral flowers, obituary search, and more.  This offers families the ability to quickly and easily find these the most credible funeral services providers, as well as make sure these providers can set themselves apart from the other 20,000+ Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, and Crematories listed online.

This is a sensible model where both families and funeral professionals can benefit.  The families can receive help searching for the funeral planning information and qualified funeral professionals they need.  The funeral professionals can be “found” by more families who are searching for the all-important family services they provide.  However, this quality funeral planning online resource center has not existed – until now.

FuneralResources.com has filled the void and created a truly family-focused online resource center.  In addition, we have also created a “sister” resource center, www.memorialtechnology.com.  This new resource center is specifically designed to assist families who are searching for today’s new and innovative memorial technology options.  They new memorial technology tools can not only significantly help in the grief and loss process, but also enhance a families ability to heal and remember a loved one in a much more meaningful way.

We welcome and encourage all comments, feedback, input, and suggestions to (800) 379-2511 or info@funeralresources.com

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com and MemorialTechnology.com

Funeral Planning Help Families are Searching For

Funeral Planning Help

What Kinds of Funeral Planning Help

are Families Searching For?

When I recently lost my mother, the terrible loss was compounded by the need for funeral planning help.  Like most families, we had never discussed and quite honestly, we avoided answering the question of; “What do we do next?”  Also, similar to most families, we had no idea who to turn to, nor did we have a clue where to begin making our funeral planning arrangements.

Through extensive study, family surveys, and my own personal experience, I now understand what most families are searching for on the Internet, and the questions they need answers to.

Three main reasons families seek funeral planning help:

1.    A recent death has occurred
2.    A death is expected
3.    There is an interest or desire to pre-plan their funeral or cemetery arrangements

Three questions most families need answers to:

1.    What should I know?
2.    Who can I turn to?
3.    Where do I get started?

In such a difficult situation, most families feel vulnerable, uncertain, and quite frankly, uneducated on what to know or ask. It is during times like this where families need the comfort and confidence to know they are working with someone who is looking out for their best interests; someone who is credible and qualified.

With more than 25,000 Funeral Homes, the Internet is loaded with Funeral Home Directories. But most families don’t really want just a name in a Directory. With the advent of the Internet and new funeral and memorial technology, families want quick and easy access to the most qualified funeral professionals, combined with the right tools to help them research all the important surrounding details.

Three reasons funeral planning is overwhelming:

1.  They are in a state of shock, disbelief, grief and loss, and more
2.  This is usually a process that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable
3.  There are many difficult funeral planning and financial decisions to make

Most common questions families need answers to:

Here are just a few of the common questions that arise;  What are the burial wishes of the deceased?  A traditional burial, cremation, graveside burial, or memorial service?  Where do they want their final resting place to be?  How, when, and where are these services performed?  And by whom?  What other funeral home services should we consider?  What is the right amount to pay for the funeral costs?  And much more.

Another detail families need to consider is the religious preference of the deceased. Planning a Jewish Funeral is completely different than, let’s say, Catholic funeral planning. In Jewish Funerals there is typically no embalming, the funeral service is performed quickly after death, and wooden caskets are preferred. Preparing for a Jewish Funeral can be quite confusing for those trying to adhere to the end of life plan set up deceased.

The list of details goes on and on but, as you can see, there is a tremendous need for families to have access to high-quality information regarding every detail of funeral planning.  This includes information about how to locate a Funeral Home or Cemetery, how to preplan a funeral, making emergency funeral arrangements, or even preparing their end of life arrangements in advance.

Families want a centralized place for high-quality and family focused funeral planning help.  It is my own personal experience and other families needs that have inspired me to offer a place where families can get all the answers they are searching for.  Families can become more confident, educated, and empowered.  In doing so, it is my passion and dream to become the most credible and trusted online funeral resource center families are turning to.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com