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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