Plan all you want, create a generous retirement plan, travel and see the world, and make sure all your medical expenses are covered, but one day, we will all close our eyes for the final time.
That simple fact may escape us until it’s actually here, and may arrive too soon, because we don’t like to consider it. Fair enough. South Pasadena estate planning attorney William Hayes can help clients reduce the anxiety about this inevitable occurrence in all of our futures.
“Funeral planning is very important.” Hayes told Pasadena Now, “However, people typically leave that burden to be dealt with by their grieving families but they don’t leave a plan for how the family should deal with it.”
As Hayes explains, if people really want to think ahead, they would be smart to set up a funeral trust, which could essentially handle most everything funeral-related for them.
You can set up a funeral trust and use insurance to fund that trust and most everyone can qualify for a funeral trust insurance policy. There will be no physical exam and everyone from 0 to 99 will qualify for this policy. You can start such policies with payments as low as $500.00.
“People typically conduct funeral pre-planning because they want to take care of their families,” says Hayes, “and prevent them from experiencing the anguish of having to deal with the emotional upheaval that accompanies the loss of a family member. It’s wise and very forward thinking to do it in this way, because you can slowly set aside money for handling the significant expense of final rites.”
There are insurance policies which anyone can qualify for, that will allow you to have your funds earn interest and the accumulated funds will be then be available to pay off that financial burden rather than leaving it for your loved ones to figure out.
“It’s a smart thing to handle your funeral expenses by paying small monthly premiums over time, because the cost of funerals average approximately $9,600 in California and the costs increase every year.”
One problem with not having a funeral trust or other pre-plan in place is that if a person dies, often the monies that they may have set aside for their expenses will not be available because surviving loved ones do not have legal authority to access the funds.
“Oftentimes the family is stuck in limbo trying to figure out what to do and the only thing they can do if they do not have something preplanned, is to initiate a long drawn out probate court process.
If you have a funded funeral trust, the funds in it can be used at any funeral home.
“So, you’re not tied to one funeral home as you might be if you went to Forest Lawn and said, ‘I want to do some preplanning.’”
Hayes also noted that if one moves away or decides for whatever reason he or she would like to use a different funeral facility, they then will have to figure out a way to get out of their preplanned contract with the funeral home in the area they have just moved from. “You may be stuck with that. But if you buy a policy and you have it in a funeral trust, you can go anywhere you want. If you decide to move to a different area or even out of state, you’re not restricted.”
This is also important, as Hayes notes, because the funeral industry has gone through a lot of consolidation of various funeral homes. And a number of them have gone out of business.
Hayes stresses that the bottom line is that if you have an insurance funded funeral trust, the monies can be made available the day after the death . So, there’s no waiting period or worrying about having the necessary funds to handle the funeral.
“Typically when someone dies, it usually takes about 40 days before you can get the death certificate.” Without a death certificate, problems can arise in trying to access funds from the deceased person’s accounts.
Furthermore, with a funeral policy in place, all of the money in the interest-bearing policy may not be used, but that money will then go tax-free to the surviving family members.
With the wide range of insurance companies out there, come a wide range of choices in service. Some insurance companies will negotiate on behalf of the funeral trust to get the best services for the client’s money.
“Some companies will even engage in price negotiation on behalf of the family. Other companies may provide travel assistance for family members and will also help in the planning of the funeral itself.
Some companies will even recommend grief counselors when some of the family members struggle more than others.
“If there is someone in the family who’s having a difficult time, a grief counselor will become very important for a suffering loved one”.
Hayes concludes, “When you have money in a funeral trust, one of the benefits is that that money that was held in that trust for the deceased person’s final expenses will not be subject to probate, lawsuits, nursing home expenses or Medi-Cal recovery.”
When considering which final expense plan to choose, think about choosing a plan that will answer the following questions for you:
• How to make informed decisions that will create peace of mind by eliminating unnecessary family conflicts regard in your final wishes
• How to reduce your family’s stress about immediately paying for your funeral expenses
• How to easily designate funds to be immediately made available to pay for your funeral expenses to any funeral home in the world
• How to simply make those funds immediately available for transportation or other costs at the time of your death
• How to protect funds from lawsuits, creditors, nursing homes and probate
• How to protect funds from income or estate taxes
• How to have a plan that will allow flexibility for your family to work with the professional advisor that will best plan for your funeral
• How to provide your family with a Funeral Home Locator Service, Bereavement Travel Assistance, and Funeral Price Negotiation service to keep costs to a minimum
• How to provide your family with information and instruction on completing necessary legal documents and obtaining the death certificate
• How to provide your family with Grief Counseling Support recommendations in their time of need
If any of these issues are of importance to you, do not hesitate to call The Hayes Law Firm for additional information.
William K. Hayes is a member of the prestigious American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys which has been recommended by Consumer Reports, Money Magazine and Suze Orman if you are seeking well-qualified estate planning attorneys. The Hayes Law Firm specializes in Trusts, Probate and Medi-Cal Planning. To attend an upcoming free webinar, you may call (626) 403-2292 or visit The Hayes Law Firm website at LosAngelesTrustLaw.com. If you’d like a free presentation on these topics for your business or social organization, let us know. Click here for “The Hayes Law Firm – Upcoming Webinar Schedule” and webinar registration links.