I’ve been a busy boy this year, working as a pre-planning advisor and helping people plan for final arrangements (funerals, cremations, and services).
In my most recent experience, I had a family that came into the funeral home after losing a loved one to cancer. The family had make no arrangements in advance (no pre-planning) so we were starting from scratch.
We met for an hour to make plans and funeral arrangements that included:
- Mass at church
- Funeral services at the funeral home
- Burial at a local cemetery
When the family signed the goods and services agreement, I got busy ordering supplies and scheduling services with the church, pastor, florist, and transportation services (hearse).
I got a call a few days later, after arrangements had been made, letting me know that the life insurance policy was not enough to cover the cost of the $12,200 funeral expenses and the $15,000 cemetery expenses (plot, opening, closing, vault, and monument). All told, funeral expenses were more than $29,000! We call this the “+” syndrome when families realize with no planning or pre-arrangements in place that funeral expenses are going to be prohibitively expensive. This family is now faced with the sad but perhaps necessary decision of not honoring their loved one’s wishes, choosing a cremation plan solely based on the cost of burial!
This is as cautionary tale for families, loved ones, and friends to think through end-of-life decisions ahead of time and at least investigate some kind of life insurance that is “assignable” or going directly to a funeral home for needed services. And of course, you can do some pre-planning even if you don’t purchase anything. The better prepared you are when the time comes, the smoother things will go during one of life’s most challenging times.