Optional Suffering. That’s how Chanel Reynolds described the aftermath when her husband died suddenly. Reynolds said “…it was hard to stay present in the room…and hear what doctors were saying, because I was so overwhelmed with not knowing how much money we had in our checking account…and whether I was going to be able to float a family by myself.”
She shared her personal experience so that other might avoid the same hardship; sorting through bills, insurance policies, bank accounts, assets and other costly life details in order to go on after death. It cost a fortune in legal fees. What saved her was life insurance. It bought her time.
Life insurance is just one aspect of what Reynolds calls “intentional financial planning.”
We all know what’s involved: a will, a review of savings and assets, and selecting people to care for children or elders. We all know. But do we do it? Hardly ever.
Making final plans is an aspect of financial planning that is often missed. It spares survivors similar optional suffering: What were his/her final wishes? What funds are available to carry out those wishes? Who can help me through all of this?
Having a trusted, holistic Financial Advisor can make a difference. Someone who isn’t just recommending certain investments and adjusting your portfolio: a trained Advisor who helps you with your finances from here and now into the future…planning for your family, your retirement, as well as for your death.
If we can’t do it on our own, hiring a professional to remind and cajole us into action could spare a lot of pain in the future. Get a referral from someone who cares about you. And make your final plans.
Ron Lieber wrote about Chanel Reynolds for the New York Times. A print article appeared on January 12, 2013, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Shocking Death, a Financial Lesson and Help for Others.
Death can cause frustration and unnecessary expense to those you leave behind when they struggle to locate assets.Your assets include passwords to social media accounts; proof of ownership for property, investments, retirement accounts, and the value of any life insurance you may have.
If survivors don’t know how to access information those assets are lost to them when needed the most – or even forever!
An 18 year old man with a rare form of cancer died before he could express his funeral wishes. His notes were stored on his iPad along with many photos of him and family members. His mother did not know the password. She is mourning his death as well as the loss of those memories.
One family was told about a valuable piece of property left behind when an out-of-state relative died. The heirs will need an attorney and a long process to recover the inheritance because they cannot find the papers they need.
Life insurance proceeds go unclaimed every year when beneficiaries don’t know about policies and cannot file a claim. Wills and trusts are often impossible to locate without time and energy better spent on mourning the loss of a loved one.
OTHER PRECIOUS ASSETS:
Think about photos: A picture from the 1930’s or those of relatives who served in WWII are irreplaceable. Medical records and DNA test results can be extremely valuable when there is a rare genetic family condition, and could be helpful many years after a death occurs.
It’s tax season. The perfect time to organize your valuables and establish a way to access, share, and preserve your assets. Don’t make your family dig through file drawers, hunt through boxes, or try to guess passwords. Set up a way to access, share and manage what you leave behind.
One suggestion is to transfer vital records to a portable thumb drive. It might work if the drive is not lost or if it travels with the individual at all times. Another option is to use a scanner like Paper Port, which converts documents to PDFs. But still the question remains: how to store and share whatever is scanned. When you die – where will survivors know to look?
A new and better way is using a service like AfterVault. Once you store your documents, you decide WHO can access everything. AfterVault stays in touch with you automatically. When you die, your designated “Guardian” knows how to locate and preserve everything you left behind.
Talk About Your Final Plans. Locating important documents should be part of the conversation. If you want more ideas, email or call me.
Does your family own a car? If you are like most Americans, you also have a car loan. New car payments in America have crept above the $500 per month mark, (USA TODAY Peter Dunn, 2016). And the average length of a car loan was quoted as 68 months… nearly six years!
Yet very few families have a plan in place to pay the final expenses for each of them when they die. Death is not just a personal loss; it’s a financial crisis. Historically, the funeral industry did not offer financing. It was cash, check or charge – and someone related to the deceased needed to put up the money. Some have endured the embarrassment of a neighborhood car wash to raise money to bury a loved one. Others turn to online crowdfunding sources like GoFundMe to ask for contributions toward funeral expenses.
Websites such as Plumfund, YouCaring, ALittleHelp and HelpAFund are mentioning final expenses specifically in their statement of purpose. And a new company, Fund A Funeral, is working directly with funeral directors to help families finance merchandise and services at the time of need. But why wait?
There is a better way. Plan ahead. Just as you researched the car you planned to buy, and found good terms for your car loan… budget for final expenses and plan for the entire family. It won’t amount to saving $500 per month either!
Don’t leave your family without the means to provide final disposition: cremation or burial. Don’t expect your adult children to foot the bill. Don’t imagine that your young family won’t experience loss: death knows no age limits. And don’t leave your spouse to worry about paying the bill after you pass away. It’s not fair to impose such financial stress on top of grief.
If you need ideas about planning and saving for your final plans, contact me. Attend one of my presentations, or invite me to speak to your family or group.
Death has changed. And little by little, we are changing, too. Once a taboo topic, it’s being talked about more openly, more often. Machines are keeping us alive, for better or worse. Death is defined differently, regarded differently.
Californians now have End of Life legislation, thanks to Brittany Maynard’s outspoken courage.Hospice care means more people can die comfortably at home if they prefer. People are talking to their loved ones, using Advance Directives, detailing how they wish to spend their final days.
There are more books, radio segments, and Ted Talks about the quality of life when death is imminent. In Albuquerque, the Doyenne of Death, Gail Rubin, uses podcasts and hosts events that include humor and movie clips to get her audience comfortable with funeral planning.
Funerals are no longer somber events, exclusive to clergy. Celebrants and lay people conduct memorial services and celebrations of life, not just in houses of worship, but in community centers and backyards.
The formal suit and tie or frothy gown is no longer expected attire for the decedent. Instead, we honor our dead by dressing them in athletic uniforms, street wear, and clothing that had meaning during their lives. Dallas TX Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens had expressed his specific wishes long before he died. Instead of wearing a uniform and badge, he wanted to be buried in a T-shirt, shorts, and no shoes.
People are increasingly choosing cremation. Remains are made into jewelry, bookends, and meaningful mementoes. Others actively seek to donate their body to medical research and for teaching. Some want to return to the earth in a green burial. A few will have their remains shot into outer space.
People are attending Death Cafes, where they drink tea, eat cake, and share their thoughts and feelings about death. Communities around the world are using giant chalkboards and art installations in public spaces to generate conversation about death. The “Before I Die” wall gives people a chance to fill in the blank: “Before I Die I Want To…..” with a dream or a goal.
Death has changed. Have you changed your outlook on the subject?
Disabilities present unique challenges to aging parents of a dependent adult, especially if they are primary caretakers.
Parents who have juggled the educational, emotional and physical needs of a child with special needs for 20 or 30 years must also make critical legal and financial decisions in anticipation of their own death and the future death of their child. Now is the time to make those final plans, and not leave the burden to surviving relatives.
Living arrangements is usually the first issue that comes to mind. Can the adult child remain at home and live independently with outside support? When a parent dies, will the event prompt a move to live with a sibling or other relative? Is that person willing and able to cope with an addition to his/her family?
The conversation should be held early and often, at a level that is understood by everyone involved.
The second issue is having an end of life plan for each of the parents and the dependent adult. Advance planning for the parents might include a cemetery plot for future burial of the son or daughter, or having cremated remains placed in the same plot with one parent. Once basic plans are in writing, costs can be covered with savings, or life insurance proceeds. After the parents are gone, who is left to pay? Siblings cannot be expected to pay for final arrangements. It needs to be taken care of in advance.
Generally, the individual with special needs has little to no income, and may be dependent upon public benefits or government assistance. This prevents them from accumulating assets or savings to cover the costs of burial or cremation. A special needs trust or prepaid funeral plan may avoid disrupting benefits eligibility. Once plans are on paper, a sibling or other designated person can complete the deathcare process without uncertainty or stress.
Advance planning makes perfect sense for any family, but especially for those with a dependent adult and aging parents.
Burial benefits for veterans – What you need to know
Speaking to Veterans about burial benefits is always rewarding. Some will say “oh, the government will take care of everything.”But that is not true. Eligible Veterans qualify for burial in a National Cemetery, such as Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, in Dixon CA.
But the VA does not make funeral arrangements or perform cremations.The family still must know the Veteran’s wishes and make plans with a mortuary and funeral director. There is an allowance for Veteran burials but not all costs are covered. Very important to know!
Most private cemeteries offer a section for Veteran burials, and certain discounts, but there still needs to be a budget and a plan.
Talk about your final plans.
Sacramento Veterans can obtain assistance and guidance for housing, education, employment and life issues from various agencies in the area, such as the Veterans Service Center through Volunteers of America, American River College, and the Veterans Family Advisory Council. There are professionals who specialize in working with Veterans, such as Landon Tymochko, a Vet himself who provides financial planning services; Venice Sullivan of Hope Institute, offering unique therapy; and agents serving Vets in real estate and mortgages like Michael D. Williams and Chuck Jones.
When it comes to a final resting place for Veterans and their family members, it is important to know all the details ahead of time.