On February 1st, we lost our beloved Bevie. Belva “Bevie” Adams was Nathan’s ninety-four year-old grandmother. I had known her for many years, so she felt very much like my own grandmother as well. She was sweet, stubborn, rebellious, and the glue in the Adams family.
In mid-February, we headed to Pennsylvania for her memorial service. It was a long trip there, and with more than a little trepidation about how a large family would manage to say goodbye to a beloved matriarch. What we experienced was much different than I expected. When we arrived, we discovered that Bevie, with the help of her children, had planned the memorial service down to the last detail. Flowers, casket, hymns, and a restaurant for a family meal, with everything prepaid.
What did this mean for the rest of the family? We spent the evening before the memorial service eating dinner together, telling stories, and watching old family movies. We also spent time choosing our favorite pictures of Bevie to be used in a video collage at her memorial service the following day. After the memorial service, we all had lunch at a local restaurant. Ninety of us gathered there to reconnect with family and friends we hadn’t seen in years. That evening, an even larger group gathered. We looked at pictures, talked about old times at the Harford County Fair (one of Bevie’s favorite events), played music and sang her favorite songs.
You might be asking at this point, what could this possibly have to do with financial planning and investment management? It is about end-of-life planning. As sad as it might seem to think about these things, the pre-planning done by Bevie allowed us all to have a less stressful (and actually fun) service celebrating her life. That’s what SHE wanted us to do.
Here’s the planning side – some important points to know when it comes to end-of-life planning.
- When planning a funeral, you’ll need to make some decisions.
- Burial versus cremation
- Planning the ceremony – Any service at all? How large? Only family and close friends? Music? Readings? Minister?
- Interment – Burial in a cemetery? Location of ashes to be spread?
- To pre-pay or not?
- There are different views on this, with points on both sides.
- If you prepay funeral expenses with a specific funeral home, your family will most likely have very little to do when it comes to your funeral, both on the time and financial side. Some individuals have pre-paid their entire funeral services and then had to cancel because they had moved out of state or decided on different plans. They were then subject to steep cancellation fees. So, be sure you understand the cancellation terms and discuss adding some flexibility to the plan.
- In most cases, prepaying your funeral will lock in today’s prices for a future service. With funerals costing between $7,000 and $10,000, this might be a good idea. This case is best for individuals who plan to be buried local to their current home and have simple plans for the service. Most funeral homes offer the option of paying one lump sum or spreading the cost over a period of time through a payment plan.
- Pay for a package deal or a la carte?
- On this issue, there are also pros and cons.
- Package deals are one-stop, everything is included. They are often the easy choice for families if there is no pre-planning completed.
- On the downside, package deals can be more expensive and include services that are not needed. When pre-planning, it might be an easier choice to just go a la carte and pay the for the services that you really need.
What can pre-planning and prepaying do for you and your family? They can relieve emotional and financial burdens for you and your loved ones. Perhaps more importantly, you have the opportunity to express your wishes for your own service and can make decisions at your own pace.
Any opinions are those of Jennifer Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notices.