It’s a topic most people want to talk about.
A funeral means the end.
Most of us know this is going to happen, but we don’t want to think about it.
There are some individuals who plan for everything and there are some individuals who leave the funeral planning to those around them when they are gone.
The problem is that if you don’t plan ahead of time, if you don’t leave instructions after you are gone, it’s a guessing game for those making arrangements.
Emotions Are Tender
Mom should have the really nice casket. Dad didn’t want to be in the ground. Uncle Bob said he wanted to be near the water. Aunt Beth mentioned something about just having a party when she gone.
Once you take your last breath, panic sets in for those around you, particularly if you leave unexpectedly.
Having planned so many funerals, I think it is actually lethargic to have this process to complete. It gets your mind focused on something. It gives you something to do for a few days. While you will still have a sense of loss, you will be very emotional, having something to do helps, at least for a short period.
Making The Final Arrangements
If you haven’t planned any funerals, if your loved one leaves you with making all of the arrangements, you might be in for sticker shock. Funeral Expenses can be pricey!
A simple service at the gravesite, with no viewing at a funeral home recently cost a friend of mine $8,000. That included transporting the body, the purchase of a wooden casket (Jewish tradition), paying the rabbi, and purchasing some food for the gathering afterwards.
That really nice casket that you think mom would want to be in costs $10,000. The mausoleum that dad needs to be in since he doesn’t want to be in the ground can be $3,000 and up! That doesn’t include the casket, the viewing, the transporting of the body or the embalming.
Do you have that kind of money lying around?
Most people don’t!
There might be some savings, but once you are deceased, if there isn’t a joint account, it will take awhile for anyone to access the money.
Final Expense Insurance
If there’s no money, is there life insurance? Some people purchase a small amount of life insurance to cover the funeral expenses. Insurance companies call this type of life insurance, final expense. It’s designed to do just that, cover the final expenses.
Final expense insurance might cover the funeral, and maybe a few months of expenses until the estate can be settled.
Costs To Consider
How much insurance should you purchase? In addition to the cost of your funeral, consider these ideas when determining how much final expense insurance you might need:
- Could there be medical expenses to pay?
- Do you want to leave money to family members?
- Do you have personal debt that needs to be paid?
- What are your monthly expenses that must continue until your estate can be settled?
- Will your estate need to go into probate? If so, the final expense money could be used to cover probate and potential legal fees.
If you plan your funeral when you are still alive and ticking, you can get the type of funeral you want. You can decide if you want a casket or a box. You can decide if you want to be in the ground or in a mausoleum.
Is There A Will?
If you don’t have a will, I would encourage you to have one created. Outline what you want done with your belongings, how you want your funeral and who you ant to handle your affairs. If your situation changes significantly, be sure to update your will. In the will you can spell out what you want done with your estate.
Most importantly, it’s important to let a family member know where the will is. My mom always told me her will was in the bottom drawer of her desk. After she moved 3 times, the desk disappeared and we were never able to find the contents of the desk!
As we age, we know the end is near. Maybe it’s 20 years, 30 years or 5 years. But most of us who are over 60 know we are in the last quarter of our life. When you go, try to have everything in order to make it easy for those who will still be here after you are gone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debbie DeChambeau is a native Washingtonian. She is an insurance professional who helps seniors navigate the complexities of Medicare. For fun, she produces podcasts and is the host of Seniors We Love, The Business of Insurance and Divorce Exposed.