Preparing ahead for the inevitable

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Every time you go through a death in the family you learn a lot of things. When my nephew died in a car crash when he was 24 years old, my brother learned the mess caused by not having a will.

Although Ashley ‘didn’t really have anything’, he actually did. He did have an apartment with furniture, television, electronic equipment, credit cards, clothes and insurance on the car in the crash and debt. After a death, with a funeral to plan, you don’t want to have to continually, legally, prove you are the child’s parent and should be handling his funeral and estate. Make sure a child over 18 has a will, even if it says little more than the parents can handle their funeral and estate. What is amazing is the number of married with children adults that don’t have a will.

Well, there is something else that adults should also do, no matter what the age, and that is to make your funeral arrangements in advance. You can change them over the years as your life changes. Almost 20 years ago Peter and I pressured our parents into making their funeral arrangements, and thank goodness they all did.

Both our fathers passed away first and it was darn good that the arrangements had been made because neither mom was in any shape to make all the arrangements at that time.

Peter’s mom, Kay Beechey just passed away this past week and we were so thankful that her arrangements had been made. Working with the funeral home was easy. We reviewed her wishes and granted after 20 years time the obit for the paper etc. had to be brought up to date, but the information they wanted in it was there. The actual casket she has chosen was no longer available but the closest one to match her wishes was simple to choose.

Also in the prepayment was the cost of having a memorial service at a church. The choir, the luncheon and other expenses were prepaid so we didn’t have to even think about them. My father’s funeral arrangements were not as extensive so we had to remember to actually pay the church for all of their services they provided.

Trust me, when you are grieving your brain doesn’t work as well. Interesting part is that you don’t notice it but you don’t remember things and are unable to reason as well as you should. If you keep having to add more and more little things to the mountain of issues you have to deal with at this time, you keep getting more and more stressed.

When the funeral arrangements are prepaid, the monies go into a trust. Less than 10 years after Peter’s dad, Roy had prepaid his, and died, there was enough money in the fund to pay for the tombstone and all the flowers! That was great interest! His arrangements were also made before HST, so they avoided that, and there are tax advantages to the estate with any extra monies after all expenses have been paid.

Kay had almost 20 years since she prepaid her funeral so we are thinking there should be more funds available than we had with Roy. If you can afford to pre-pay a funeral, it is a pretty good investment.

About the only details not worked out for Kay was the actual service content at the church. Kay would never deal with the hymns and prayers she wanted or what family or friends would be pall-bearers and assist in the service. We were lucky we had Peter’s cousins to help advise us in these details.

I got my mother to pre-plan her service. At first she kept saying, ‘whatever you want dear,’ so I told her I would arrange a Broadway Funeral Service. There are a lot a beautiful songs from Broadway shows, like I Believe and You’ll Never Walk Alone. That is what I would like, but mother said no… she wouldn’t like it. But that at least got her choosing what she would like.

Doing all of this in advance helps your children or spouse or executer more than you can imagine and your wishes are met. It also stops your three children and their three spouses and sometimes a parent or sibling from arguing over the amount of money to be spent on your funeral. Oh yes, they’ll argue and even fight over it. Who really knows you best? Would you have spent tens of thousands of dollars on your funeral? Would you have preferred to be cremated or never cremated!?

No one believes their children or family members ever would do fight amongst themselves over their funeral, but they do. Ask a few funeral directors about the problems that can happen when funeral plans are not made in advance, with all the details, including what jewellery is left on the diseased to be buried and what would be removed and given to whom.

Take the time, make sure everyone in your family has a will and makes their funeral arrangements. Neither should be left to overwhelm and burden those you love. Like Peter and I, your children will thank you when the time of your funeral comes.



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