Blogs > Your Money

Dave Patterson and Erin Preston, a father-daughter team of Certified Financial Planner® licensees, provide thoughts and suggestions on a broad collection of personal finance topics.  Information provided in this BLOG is intended to be of a general nature and may not be appropriate for all situations.  Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before relying on any information contained herein.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Estate Planning Step Often Ignored

It’s not unusual that clients have not done any estate planning prior to contracting for our services. Those who have wills, powers of attorney and trust documents often have not updated them in years. But even those who have up-to-date documents often have overlooked an important estate planning step that can make things much easier for your survivors – pre planning your funeral.

We contacted Heather Coates, co-owner of Coats Funeral Home in Clarkston, Ortonville and Waterford, Michigan, for her thoughts and recommendations on pre planning funerals. Heather passed on an interesting fact to us: The British government, three months after Princess Diana’s death, asked all of the Royal Family and key government officials to prepare their respective funeral wishes. The reason being, no one had any idea of Diana’s wishes. The government had previously asked this of only elderly members of the Royal family.

Clearly, no one wants to think about the end of their life, so it’s not surprising that few have pre planned their funerals. Planning in advance can ensure that your wishes for your funeral are addressed with a clear mind, without the pressure of an illness, or the emotions following your death.

Pre planning allows you to ensure that your goodbye to family and friends is done in your own personal style and not that of someone else. It can minimize disputes between well-meaning relatives. Some other aspects of pre planning that Heather pointed out were:

Pre planning-
1) Allows one to plan financially for the respective costs of their wishes.
2) Allows for monies to be set aside for funeral expenses, protecting the asset
for individuals that may be entering a nursing home or applying for
state assistance (Medicaid) now or in the future.
3) Offers several methods of with pricing guarantees.

Heather noted that pre arrangements are transferable. Should you retire and move to another area of the country your plans can be transferred. Price guarantees do not have to be honored, when pre arrangements are transferred, but often times are.

Heather provided us with some other things to look out for when pre planning:

1) We would not make plumbing decisions with an electrician; we should not make
final disposition plans with our attorney. A will is not the place for
funeral arrangements. A will cannot address nor can it directly control
whether someone is buried or cremated.
2) Make certain your funeral planner is a licensed funeral director or a
trained funeral pre planning professional. Make certain they are
representing a licensed and reputable firm.
3) All pre paid funeral funds by law must be placed in a proper funding
vehicle. These laws are in place to protect the consumer. The consumer has
choices in the type of funding vehicle. One needs to understand these
different options.
4) Laws regarding pre paid funerals differ from state to state. The degree to
which the consumer is protected, also differs.

If you are like many people, you either have no estate planning documents or last updated the documents you do have many years ago. We highly recommend you see an attorney and get your estate plans in order. But don’t stop there. Take the next step and visit a licensed funeral director to make plans for your funeral. Your family will appreciate it when your time comes and you can rest assured that your final rites will be done as you would like them.


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