Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

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…)

Are There Differences between Male and Female Funeral Directors?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Are there differences between Male and Female Funeral DirectorsThe funeral planning industry has long been considered a male-dominated profession. From the funeral directors who greet you at the door to the behind-the-scenes morticians who prepare your loved one for a final viewing, men have made up the majority of funeral service workers for quite some time.

Historically, caring for the dead has been the responsibility of women. As caretakers of the home (where most body preparation took place during the pre-Victorian eras), women were responsible for washing and dressing the body, and placing it in a shroud. From there, men took over. Building coffins, carrying the body, and the actual burial was men’s work. In fact, burial was considered such a “male” issue that in many cultures, women weren’t even allowed to attend the funerals or participate in the procession.

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Death Certificate FAQs

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Death Certificate FAQsAlthough every state handles death certificates differently, there are some universal standards that should help you navigate the process of ordering death certificates, making corrections, and process other record-keeping needs.

For questions about your specific state, we encourage you to contact your state’s vital records office or the National Center for Health Statistics.

Death Certificates: Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need a death certificate for?

A death certificate is needed to settle most financial and legal affairs on behalf of the deceased. As the official legal record of death, the death certificate is needed for most insurance companies, the Social Security Administration, and other agencies that must process paperwork related to the deceased’s affairs.

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What Happens When a Loved One Dies in Prison?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

What Happens When a Loved One Dies in PrisonFuneral planning isn’t a positive experience in the best of circumstances—so when you add a complicated legal or personal situation, things have a way of becoming even more difficult and emotional.

One scenario that few people anticipate having to navigate is how to take care of the deceased when he or she passes away in a government institution like jail. However, this type of situation can and does happen, and there are options for families who wish to reclaim the deceased’s body for a personalized burial.

The Death Care Industry and Prison

In many cases, inmates who face a long time in prison—or who are otherwise in a situation in which death has a reasonable chance of occurring while they are incarcerated—make a will or other advance plans for death. Because they are already firmly in the legal system and have had contact with a lawyer, they may have been encouraged to draft a will that indicates where and how their body will be interred.

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Why It Makes Sense to Prepay for Cremation

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Why it Makes Sense to Prepay for CremationPlanning a funeral in advance is often held up as the ideal way in which to approach your financial affairs. After all, when you pre-plan a funeral, you can make all the money decisions and funeral arrangements ahead of time, leaving your family free to deal with their loss without additional strain. From choosing your casket to buying a burial plot, you’ve got it all covered.

Preplanning a cremation is a bit different. Because a cremation doesn’t cost as much as a traditional funeral, and because the process tends to be simpler from start to finish, making advance arrangements for a cremation is not as common. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Here are a few reasons why we think prepaying for a cremation makes good sense.

  • You Want Cremation: Though widely accepted by most religions and families in the United States, cremation is by no means as mainstream as traditional burial. If you feel strongly about your desire to be cremated, it’s a good idea to do all the planning (and prepaying) yourself. This way, there will be no question about your wishes.
  • You Have Specific Plans: The thing about cremation is that it can be just as varied as traditional funerals. Do you want your ashes to be kept in an urn in a columbarium, or scattered out to sea? Do you prefer direct cremation with a minimal fuss? Would you like your ashes to be buried in a coral reef or shot into space? If there’s anything out of the ordinary that you want at your funeral, now is a good time to make sure it’s attended to.
  • You Have Questions: Although you can research cremation options online, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with a funeral director or funeral preplan professional to get all the answers. If you have any worries or concerns about the cremation process, about cremation costs, or about what it means for your family, talk with someone who can put you in touch with a reputable prepaid cremation provider.
  • Your Finances are Unstable: Because cremation typically costs less than regular burial, many people think it’s not as big of a deal to put it off until after death occurs. However, the lower cost of cremation also means that it’s more affordable to prepay. If your finances are in a questionable state, or if you can handle smaller, monthly payments more easily than a lump sum, it might be a good idea to prepay for services now.

Cremation is the right choice for a lot of people. Prepaying for a funeral is the right choice for a lot of people, as well. Combining the two can be a great way to save money, settle your affairs, and relieve your family of much of the pressures that accompany death.

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