Estate Planning 101 – Part One

Part One

The idea of estate planning can be unnerving.  It is difficult to think about our own mortality and the mortality of our loved ones.  This however is a topic that should be addressed.  Many do not know what needs to happen once a person dies.  For this reason, listed below are a few hints to assist you in getting your affairs in order.  This will insure that your family will not have the added stress of making decisions for (and paying for) your funeral, divvying up your worldly possessions, and most importantly the guardianship of your child(ren). 

First contact a trusted attorney to insure that you have a will and a medical living will in place. (Will blog this topic in the near future.)

Part One of this blog series will address the cost and options for a funeral.

The average cost of a funeral was $7,000+ in 2017.  This includes funeral planning, permits, the burial, viewing, embalming, and transportation to the burial site.  This amount may not include a higher end casket, flowers, headstone, or catering.  Costs can easily be in excess of $10,000. 

Here are few things thoughts to consider:

  • Shop around.  Funeral homes have different rates and may include different services for the same cost.
  • Casket Selection.  An average caskets cost $2,000, but the selection can easily be as much as $10,000.  If this is not a priority, simply ask the funeral director for economical options.  Funeral law states the director must show you what options the company has and the price before showing you the actual casket. 
  • Burial Vaults or Grave Liners are not required by law and funeral directors may not disclose.  Although, many cemeteries require some kind of outer burial liner to keep the casket from shifting in the future.
  • Burial or Cremation.  Being cremated reduces the cost by thousands of dollars.
  • Direct Cremation or Immediate Burial saves money on embalming services, hair/makeup, and viewing costs at the funeral home.
  • Go green.  Green funerals usually means a simple biodegradable wooden box instead of a casket, and no embalming.  This allows the body to decompose naturally and return to the earth. 
  • Space Services.  Go into space with a space burial.  For a fee Space Services can fit lipstick size container of ashes to free space on rockets already being launched with satellites.  The ashes will orbit Earth for years or centuries until the vessel returns back to the atmosphere and incinerates.

It is a good idea to begin saving up for the inevitable.  Consider setting up a dedicated savings account and share the access with your executor to insure easy access or buy a bond for the person planning your funeral.  You can finance, plan and pay for the service through the funeral home of your choosing.