Although the weather doesn’t seem like winter yet, here we are amidst the holiday season when families normally gather for faith, food, and fellowship. Even with the COVID pandemic, people are still finding ways to “get together” during the holidays, whether that’s outdoors around a firepit, or basking in the glowing warmth of a computer monitor amid a grid of our loved ones. During these times, many interesting discussions occur, from politics to taxes — and even death and dying.
In my many years of working with families on their plans, I find the best thing we can do for our heirs is… COMMUNICATE. Having the courage to communicate our wishes to our spouses, kids, and our estate plan advisor is crucial to creating a good, solid plan; and can provide for a much smoother transition once death occurs.
One of the most important discussions we can have is in regards to funeral and last expense planning. Without a plan, the grieving widow, widower or the children are often left with making all the decisions regarding funeral arrangements, church services, burial options, and — finally — where the money is going to come from to pay the expenses. Unfortunately, not all the kids will agree!
Using appropriate documentation, a person can communicate their wishes on these difficult decisions. Working through your local funeral home, you can decide the funeral and burial arrangements. Casket choices, cremation urns, burial plots, headstones inscriptions are all things you can pre-arrange, thus making this decision much easier for your heirs. If you wish to have your Catholic faith represented, make sure you fill out a Catholic Health Care Directive, which will direct your heirs on Catholic services you wish to have from the hymns, pallbearers, Masses, and readers.
The pre-funding of last expense costs is also vitally important. By having a good prefunded plan, heirs don’t have the worry or burden to find from the remaining estate the approximately $10,000 that a funeral will cost. Also, by preplanning, typically the cost is much less.
We should also make sure we have the three crucial estate plan documents updated and in a place where the heirs can find and access them quickly. Those three documents are:
(1) Last Will and Testament,
(2) Health Care Directive, and
(3) Financial Power of Attorney.
Remember, make sure all your documents mentioned above are in a easy-to-reach place and that your heirs, or at least the executor of your estate, have easy access. Take a moment during this year’s Christmas phone call or Zoom group to tell the family members that need to know where these documents are. When a parent dies, there is nothing worse than no one knowing their wishes, nor where they can find the documents that express those wishes. By having access, you can ensure a smooth transition and help eliminate your heirs having to make the hard decisions.
You might also be interested in reading this: Four steps to move your estate plan off your To Do List
Remember, no one should have to do this on their own. The qualified Sales Representatives at Catholic United Financial can help guide all aspects of last expense planning. By assisting in gathering the information, discussing the various options, and providing applicable paperwork, we can make the last expense planning process easy, understandable , and thus, complete.
No matter the level of funeral and last expense planning you complete, COMMUNICATION is the most important aspect of that plan.