As a pioneering death educator, I’ve been talking about death and funeral planning for eight years as of 2018. It hasn’t killed me yet.
Even though humans have a 100% mortality rate, studies by funeral and estate planning attorney organizations indicate only 20-25% of adults plan ahead for end-of-life issues. That means 75-80% of our loved ones will be stressed and scrambling to find information and make expensive decisions while they’re mourning the loss of a loved one.
Years ago, my husband and I put our funeral wishes on file with our preferred local funeral home. Pulling together all the biographical information, burial plot details, casket preferences, clergy to contact, etc. was a time-consuming exercise. But now that it’s done, that’s one less chore to handle.
Many people don’t realize you can preplan with a funeral home, put your information on file, and not prepay. If you decide to prepay, either by protected trust fund or funeral insurance policy, most funeral homes will offer to “lock-in” the prices on elements that they control. This can be a hedge against steady funeral price inflation.
While pre-funding is not required, it’s a good idea to know where your eventual funeral funds will come from. If a family doesn’t have cash in the bank, life insurance, or other resources to draw upon, they may resort to online fundraising sites or memorial car washes to pay for a funeral.
Taking My Own Advice
In 2017, my husband and I updated our wills for the first time since we got married 17 years earlier. When our executor moved out of state, we knew it was time to revisit and update these important documents. It was time to name someone else as executor.
Waiting 17 years is much too long a time to revisit your estate planning wishes. Many life situations can change dramatically over just a few years. Most estate planning attorneys suggest revisiting wills and trusts every three to five years.
We also took the opportunity to set up a trust. My husband and I don’t have children and have no local blood relatives we’d want to be a personal representative or executor. We researched local trust companies and bank trust departments to take care of settling the estate when we are both gone. So now we’re good to go!
Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead. My vital signs are still going strong! What’s your excuse?
Gail Rubin, CT, is a pioneering death educator who uses humor and funny films to teach about end-of-life topics. An award-winning speaker, she “knocked ’em dead” at TEDxABQ in 2015. She’s the author of three books on end-of-life issues: A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.
She’s also an informed advocate for planning ahead, a Certified Funeral Celebrant, and the coordinator of the Before I Die ABQ Festival. Download a free 50-point Executor’s Checklist from her website, www.AGoodGoodbye.com.