Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

How to Write Your Own Obituary

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Composing an obituary When it comes to funeral planning, some people prefer to have everything taken care of ahead of time. In addition to setting aside money for a funeral, this includes choosing things like caskets and headstones ahead of time. And if you really don’t want to leave anything to chance, you can also write your own obituary.

After all, no one can sum up your life quite as well as you can. Awards and achievements—those things that look good on paper—might make for a nice newspaper article, but they rarely capture who you are as a person and what kind of message you want to leave behind. If writing your own obituary and placing it with your estate plans is something that appeals to you, here’s how you can best go about it. (more…)

Cremation FAQs

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Fire smoke What is Cremation?

Cremation is a way of disposing of bodily remains that is both economical and ecologically friendly. Although many people choose cremation for personal, cultural, or religious reasons, the reality is that most people opt for cremation because of its relatively low cost (when compared to burial).

How Does Cremation Work?

In the process of cremation, a body is exposed to high levels of heat and flame for 1 to 3 hours. During this time, the body is broken down into ashes and large bone fragments (which are later ground down to give the appearance of ash). Family members are then able to collect these ash remains, also known as cremains, to be disposed of however they wish.

Who Performs a Cremation?

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5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Funeral Planning

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Cemetery is the dawn's lightOnce you’ve made the decision to begin funeral planning, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and options out there. Choosing cremation vs burial, picking between dozens of local funeral homes, considering funeral insurance vs a pre-plan funeral package…these are just a few of the options that pop up in the beginning of your search.

Because few purchases will ever be more personal than the ones you make regarding your own death, it’s important to take a deep breath and relax as you move forward. Although time is one of the few things none of us has an unlimited amount of, you should never plan a funeral in haste. It’s too easy to overpay or buy services you don’t need if you feel pressured to make immediate decisions.

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How Much Does Burial Insurance Cost?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

People at funeral consoling each otherOne of the easiest ways to pre-pay for a funeral is to buy burial insurance (also known as funeral insurance). Instead of picking out details like caskets or cemeteries now, you simply set aside a lump sum that is payable out to your beneficiary upon your death. They can then use the money to fund your funeral in a way that fits with your wishes and their grieving needs.

Because burial insurance is a “guaranteed” payout (unlike car insurance, which will only pay out in the event of an accident, everyone will eventually die and collect on their burial policy), most of the costs are fixed. Your policy provider will take into account your age, your desired method of payment, and how large your payout is. From there, you will choose a policy that fits with your needs. This means that while one person (say, a 50-year-old in good health) might pay a fairly small monthly charge, another person (someone in their 70s who is a smoker) can expect larger monthly fees and even big upfront costs.

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How to Plan a Belated Funeral

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

How to Plan a Belated FuneralThere are many reasons to delay a funeral. Maybe it’s a difficult time of year for family members to get time off work or to make travel arrangements. Perhaps the deceased wished for a springtime service. Maybe you don’t currently have the money to cover funeral costs.

Whatever the reasons, it’s becoming more common to opt for direct cremation or direct burial immediately following death—and to hold a formal “funeral” or memorial service sometime in the future. You can wait weeks, months, or even years to do this, which gives you greater flexibility and more options when it comes to saying goodbye.

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Pre-Plan a Funeral Online

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Pre-Plan a Funeral OnlineIf the idea of calling funeral homes and meeting with estate planners to make advance funeral arrangements isn’t one you cherish, you may be able to find online options to save you time and money. Although unheard of just a few years ago, online funeral planning is now a viable option that allows you to plan and even pay for your funeral from the comfort of your own home.

How Online Funeral Planning Works

There are two ways you can pre-plan a funeral online. The first option requires nothing more from you than to make decisions regarding your wishes. For example, you can:

Print out a funeral planning worksheet, which you can then fill out regarding your specific wishes.
Find a funeral planning app or other online option that allows you to make decisions and email your answers to family members.
Coordinate funeral pre-plan options with a specific funeral home, which will use the information provided to contact you at a later date.

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I Want to Plan My Own Funeral, Where do I Start?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Traditional Memorial Candle of RemembranceAlthough it might sound preemptive and a bit macabre to plan your own funeral, this kind of advance arrangement is becoming more and more common. Not only does pre-planning a funeral allow you to have more control over what happens to your remains after you pass, but it can also save your family quite a bit of grief and money.

Planning your own funeral can be as simple as making a list of your wishes and ensuring your family knows where it is, or as complex as paying for everything in advance (even going so far as to purchase the casket or arrange every detail with the funeral home). There is no wrong way to go about it, but here are a few suggestions for getting started.

 Choose Your Final Interment Plan

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Are Funeral Expenses Deductible on My Taxes?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Are Funeral Expenses Deductible on My Taxes?The unexpected funeral costs that arise after a death often put a strain on family finances. With a total price tag anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars, paying for a funeral out of pocket is like asking a family to buy a new car. This is a cost few families can cover outright, which is why it’s no wonder that the question of whether or not you can make funeral expenses deductible on your taxes is one that regularly pops up.

The easy answer is no. For the majority of families, the costs they must lay out for a funeral are like any other major purchase (along the lines of a car or new furniture). Funeral expenses are your responsibility, and the government won’t give you any tax breaks come April 15.

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Is Funeral Insurance Right for You?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Is Funeral Insurance Right for You?In the funeral pre-planning industry, there are several different options you can choose from for your future memorial service. You can plan down to the last detail by advance planning an entire funeral with the home of your choosing. You can set up a payment plan to lower funeral costs down the road. Or, if you’re like one of a growing number of consumers, you can purchase funeral insurance to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of.

What is Funeral Insurance?

At first glance, funeral insurance can be slightly misleading. Also known as burial insurance, final expense insurance, or pre-need insurance, these are insurance policies that an individual takes out to guarantee funeral funding. Like life insurance, it is payable out upon death and monies are granted to the beneficiary listed on the policy. Unlike life insurance, the payout tends to be smaller (enough just to cover the funeral) and are paid out faster (so that you can have the money for funeral planning). And in many cases, the only way the policy is different from a traditional life insurance option is in the beneficiary—in funeral insurance, you may choose to name the funeral home as the beneficiary, so that the money goes directly to them.

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Paying for a Parent’s Funeral

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Paying for a Parent's Funeral In cases where an individual did not make advance funeral plans, chances are fairly good that a spouse or adult child will be responsible for planning and financing the funeral. Long held as the custom across countries and cultures, the idea that a child must bear the burden of burial is one that many of us recognize. After all, these are the individuals who brought us into the world…it seems only fitting that we send them out of it.

Unfortunately, circumstances and financial hardship often get in the way of these types of plans. In addition to the emotional toll that losing a parent can have on an individual, it can be difficult to know where to find the resources to cover funeral costs as well as what types of decisions to make to best honor your parent.

If a parent’s death has recently occurred, we suggest you sit down with other siblings and your remaining parent to go over your options and to discuss funeral planning details. Depending on what kind of pre-plan funeral arrangements were made and your financial situation, you could rely on any of the following payment types.

  • Life Insurance: Although not everyone purchases a funeral pre-plan, life insurance is fairly common. The named beneficiary (or beneficiaries) will receive a lump sum payable upon death and may use those monies for the funeral. Because these funds may take a few weeks to be processed, most funeral homes are willing to work with you to arrange the payments at a later date. (more…)

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