Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

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nisiprius
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby nisiprius » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:19 pm

Observations:

1) In two cases I know of where people had prepaid funerals, everything worked as expected. They got "a nice funeral," friends and family were satisfied, "everything was taken care of," and the bereaved was, in fact, relieved of the burden of coping and managing the thing. Quite possibly the deceased one overpaid, but the point is that the deceased did get what was paid for--or, if you like, overpaid for.

2) A funeral director really does need to take care of a whole lot of details. There is a whole bunch of official paperwork to be filed (e.g. with Medicare). I don't think any of it is anything a person with energy and gumption can't handle, but it is a nontrivial job.

For example, consider inserting death notices in newspapers. In 2016, "friends and family" of the deceased would still typically be elderly enough that you can't just do it over the Internet. Depending on where you live, that might mean several small-town papers and one big metropolitan paper.

Having had to place a death notice myself, I can tell you that's both a chore and a surprising expense. For a major metropolitan paper, say the L. A. Times, you might read that "prices start at $105.00 for a 5-line, 1-column notice" but when you find out how narrow the column is and how little you can say in five lines... well... by the time you say "so-and-so was a beloved history teacher at Springfield High School, as well as the organizer of the annual community pageant" and "he is survived by" and give a few names and relationships, and "there will be a celebration of his life at the Springfield Civic Center on Wednesday," and "in lieu of flowers, please send donations to American Foundation Against Disease..."--you can blast through a thousand dollars very quickly.

3) As with people who spend money on pets, or nice watches, or anything you don't spend money on, don't be too judgmental. If someone is manipulated into spending more than they should, that's a bad thing, but if someone wants to have a nice funeral, it's not my business to say that the casket cost too much. I will say this. For me, it was very helpful to have an opportunity to view the body, and I think it is worth some money to make sure that the bereaved get a chance to do this if they want to. There is something very important about seeing that the life is not in the body.
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dpc
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby dpc » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:34 pm

Just went through making funeral arrangements for our father and the prices quoted are in line with what we ended up paying. I would have been happy spending less, but I didn't make an issue of it. It was a miserable two hours with the funeral director. Making arrangements in advance could make sense and would spare your survivors (and probably you will be the first survivor) a lot of stress at a very stressful time. But there are risks - not least of which is whether or not the funeral home is still in business. Might make sense to wait awhile to spend the money and just leave some specific instructions if you want to economize. My dad didn't leave any specific instructions, but kept enough money in his checking account to cover the funeral.

I had an econ professor in college who assured us that when you die, someone will do something with the body.
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby leonard » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:05 pm

Get cremated. Deposit the ashes in your plots - since they are paid for. Or, consider the plots a sunk cost and let relatives spread the ashes.

A lot less expensive.
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:16 am

Great thread with a lot of info, bogleheads.
I thought I might look into this, as I had thought about it only briefly. Just asked about cost of plots at a few different sites.
I am thinking that if I have some specific wishes including location perhaps a set of directions for relatives (no kids, so I say relatives) can be specified. I figured at first that I would pay for as much as possible as a pre need arrangement, but this info gives me a lot to think about.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby saladdin » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:30 am

Fallible wrote:I've been reading Jonathan Clements's Money Guide 2016, which suggests readers check out funeral costs with the Funeral Consumers Alliance at funerals.org. May be of some help. He also says the median cost of a funeral with burial is $7,181, and for cremation $6,078.

Clements also recommends ordering 10 or more death certificates depending on the complexity of the deceased's estate, and ordering them from the funeral home where they'll be cheaper.


This is my experience in a lcol area. Very few people where I live could afford 20k funerals.
Uncle died 2 months ago, was cremated for $2500.

Typical funeral here is 5k on top end.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby itstoomuch » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:18 am

Prepaiding for this was very hard for me and we used cremation for my mother and FIL
In our state, by law/regulation the prepaid plan is an insurance contract to prevent the funeral home from defaulting on a self insured contract. I know that one of the contracts was an whole life. I think another was an deferred annuity.

YMMV

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Barefootgirl » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:25 am

This may be a situation where I'm grateful to hail from a rural area. We buried an aunt this year in the same cemetery where I want to be buried when my time comes.

Plots are $650 each. I asked about ongoing maintenance costs and was told that the church members do the mowing and weeding and snow clearing themselves @ no additional charge.

Funerals range in the low thousands and it's customary for the funeral director to come to the home of the family to collect payment after they receive the life insurance proceeds. I realize that doesn't cover all situations, since some may want to pre-pay.
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Abe » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:31 pm

Slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby ponyboy » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:43 pm

Church Lady wrote:
We were stunned by the 22,000 tab, as well as the parlor's demand that we pay in full up front.



That is a high tab but the fact they wanted the money up front was really smart on their part. My FIL is a funeral director and he's been stuck with the bill on more occasions that one. He's been flat out screwed by people he's known for decades when he had the funeral of their parents.

Its a tough sort of business in that you're usually seeing people when a loved one has died so there are a lot of emotions. Its hard to bring up the topic of payment when people are sobbing but the reality is a business is being ran. That business has expenses. Its not cheap and requires a lot of man hours and headaches. Lots of phone calls and lots of paperwork. Doctors can be an absolute pain to deal with in terms of getting death certificates, etc.

My FIL is in a small town. He said its also difficult to turn people away when they are short on cash. Of course since the customer cant pay the business is all of the sudden the bad guy, the business should be able to adsorb the costs, blah blah, and word of mouth spreads. Business can get a lawyer involved, spend more money to try to get customers to pay...and even then some still wont. He's also had customers who were broke but set up a payment plan of $20 or so dollars a month. He still has a few people that send him around $20/month. They've been paying it for years and years.

Just hearing some of his stories makes me never want to own a small business. No thanks. Donate your body to science. The future needs doctors and surgeons. Those people need bodies to practice on for the greater good of humanity. After they're done slicing you up they cremate you for free. Save yourself a lot of money too.

edit: dont get me wrong...97% of the time there are no issues. Its that 3% that would break me personally. Id want to collect my money in ways not acceptable by society.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby c1over8 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:50 pm

My grandmother prepaid her funeral years ago and it did end up saving money, although I don't know how much. I do know that it made things much simpler for my mother and my uncle because my grandmother had already selected everything. She even told my mother and I which outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Regarding the price, I know someone who recently had to pay for her nephew's funeral, and even select the budget opens, the funeral and everything, except the cemetery plot itself which was free because it was in a family cemetery, cost $9,xxx. Your prices seem in line with what she paid.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby ponyboy » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:07 pm

nisiprius wrote:Observations:
2) A funeral director really does need to take care of a whole lot of details. There is a whole bunch of official paperwork to be filed (e.g. with Medicare). I don't think any of it is anything a person with energy and gumption can't handle, but it is a nontrivial job.


This isnt true at all. Yep there is a lot of official paperwork. Do you think that paperwork just magically gets delivered and filled out to where it needs to go? This is actually one of the worst parts of a funeral directors job.

You're on call 24/7. PHone can ring any time during the night/day. Want to make dinner plans with your friends a month in advance? Awesome...time comes...you're on your way...phone rings. Dinner cancelled. Its very disruptive to a family.

Like I said before just dealing with customers. Families that fight right in front of you, families that refuse to pay after service has been done, families that want a refund because a flower wasnt arranged the way they expected, etc etc.

Auditing...random audits happen all the time. Hope you saved every receipt and document every penny you make and everything that gets expensed.

Health inspectors...they show up too. Hope everything is up to code.

Just going into some peoples homes can be more disgusting than the actual corpse you have to remove. People are disgusting. Sometimes bodies sit around for a week before they're found. I can go into more detail as to what they look like and the things that may be on them if you like? Hope you have a strong stomach.

What about slow months? Especially when you first start out...people die everyday, doesnt mean they are going to contact you to hold the viewing. Bills still need paid. No pressure though.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby NotWhoYouThink » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:24 pm

Recently went thru this with a couple of family members. No pre-pay, no plan. But they had been active in church.

About $1500 for cremation, no other service from Funeral Home except death certificates. (Although for an extra fee they would have hosted a viewing/visitation)
About $750 or so for newspaper obit.
Not sure on cost for columbarium, but the plaque for it was a few hundred.

Church took care of service, food, etc. Not sure what the standard donation was.


The family took care of all the medicare/social security/insurance/bank notifications. I didn't know funeral homes even did that.

Yes, I'm sure funeral directors do a lot of work for their money, and see families sometimes at their worst. But that doesn't mean that frugal families can't take on a lot of that work themselves and do just fine. Plenty of room for all types in the world.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Texanbybirth » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:28 pm

ponyboy wrote:
nisiprius wrote:Observations:
2) A funeral director really does need to take care of a whole lot of details. There is a whole bunch of official paperwork to be filed (e.g. with Medicare). I don't think any of it is anything a person with energy and gumption can't handle, but it is a nontrivial job.


This isnt true at all. Yep there is a lot of official paperwork. Do you think that paperwork just magically gets delivered and filled out to where it needs to go? This is actually one of the worst parts of a funeral directors job.

You're on call 24/7. PHone can ring any time during the night/day. Want to make dinner plans with your friends a month in advance? Awesome...time comes...you're on your way...phone rings. Dinner cancelled. Its very disruptive to a family.

Like I said before just dealing with customers. Families that fight right in front of you, families that refuse to pay after service has been done, families that want a refund because a flower wasnt arranged the way they expected, etc etc.

Auditing...random audits happen all the time. Hope you saved every receipt and document every penny you make and everything that gets expensed.

Health inspectors...they show up too. Hope everything is up to code.

Just going into some peoples homes can be more disgusting than the actual corpse you have to remove. People are disgusting. Sometimes bodies sit around for a week before they're found. I can go into more detail as to what they look like and the things that may be on them if you like? Hope you have a strong stomach.

What about slow months? Especially when you first start out...people die everyday, doesnt mean they are going to contact you to hold the viewing. Bills still need paid. No pressure though.


Sure seems like you're overreacting to what I think was a fair comment by nisiprius, who was actually supporting the role of a funeral director in a thread where a lot of the OP's comments have been dismissed/ignored, e.g. people telling her to be cremated when she specifically mentioned that is not an option.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Katietsu » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:32 pm

Be aware that some of the information is state specific. This is true both for the funeral contracts, the Medicaid rules and the availability of assets after death.

For instance, when my father died, I was surprised to find out that any account with a beneficiary, i.e. a POD account, went to the beneficiary regardless of whether or not there were debts owed by the deceased.

Some of the nursing homes in my area require funeral pre-payment as a condition of admission. And pre-paying for funerals is a standard part of spending down for Medicaid. However, I believe that the OP suggested that it would hopefully be 40 years before these arrangements were needed. In this situation, I would never prepay, just pre-plan.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:03 pm

I agree... I think the poster might have misread nisiprius' comments to mean a trivial job but he actually wrote FD s perform a non trivial set of myriad jobs.
However I am sorry to hear of the crazy neglect ponyboy refers to, especially the physical aspects. Plus people who do not pay, but that does occur in many professions, unfortunately.
I like the idea of donating the body to med students as he posts and as Taylor has posted, but have always been against cremation so would have to change my mind on that, and I just might. I really never thought about the option of med school donation but I appreciate doctors, research, and science, so I will have to think about it.
Thanks.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby ponyboy » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:04 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:
ponyboy wrote:
nisiprius wrote:Observations:
2) A funeral director really does need to take care of a whole lot of details. There is a whole bunch of official paperwork to be filed (e.g. with Medicare). I don't think any of it is anything a person with energy and gumption can't handle, but it is a nontrivial job.


This isnt true at all. Yep there is a lot of official paperwork. Do you think that paperwork just magically gets delivered and filled out to where it needs to go? This is actually one of the worst parts of a funeral directors job.

You're on call 24/7. PHone can ring any time during the night/day. Want to make dinner plans with your friends a month in advance? Awesome...time comes...you're on your way...phone rings. Dinner cancelled. Its very disruptive to a family.

Like I said before just dealing with customers. Families that fight right in front of you, families that refuse to pay after service has been done, families that want a refund because a flower wasnt arranged the way they expected, etc etc.

Auditing...random audits happen all the time. Hope you saved every receipt and document every penny you make and everything that gets expensed.

Health inspectors...they show up too. Hope everything is up to code.

Just going into some peoples homes can be more disgusting than the actual corpse you have to remove. People are disgusting. Sometimes bodies sit around for a week before they're found. I can go into more detail as to what they look like and the things that may be on them if you like? Hope you have a strong stomach.

What about slow months? Especially when you first start out...people die everyday, doesnt mean they are going to contact you to hold the viewing. Bills still need paid. No pressure though.


Sure seems like you're overreacting to what I think was a fair comment by nisiprius, who was actually supporting the role of a funeral director in a thread where a lot of the OP's comments have been dismissed/ignored, e.g. people telling her to be cremated when she specifically mentioned that is not an option.


Yeah it definitely came off like that...sorry about that. I personally think being buried in the ground is odd. Good thing most people think otherwise or all funeral directors would be in the poor house. I was more going after the people who are ignorant when it comes to running a business and the amount of effort that goes into it. The ones working for the man have no clue. I too work for the man but hear it direct from a business owner...thats the only reason I commented.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby celia » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:50 pm

Miriam2 wrote:Q1 - is this nuts or is this standard pricing? (note - we live in a HCOL area and we're probably not moving out of state, the funeral home is long-established and well-respected, and cremation is not our option)

I live in a HCOL area and it sounds a little on the high side. But I think many things could change between now and then, causing me to not pre-plan. My in-laws bought plots overlooking the ocean. Several years later, they changed their minds and bought other plots with "a better view". Now the executor has a hard time getting rid of the surplus lots. No beneficiaries are interested in them.

Q2 - is agreeing to a funeral prepayment plan a "bargaining tool" in negotiating these funeral expenses?

There is a prepayment plan for both contracts, with a down payment and monthly payments for 60 months. Payments are made to an insurance company which holds the funds; it's actually a type of insurance. If one of us passes before we finish paying, the insurance company pays what's left (I suppose a benefit of dying before you pay up.

This sounds like a good deal if the purchaser is 90!

When I settled an estate, I think I ordered 10 death certificates as recommended, but ended up using only 3 since I requested them back so I could re-use them. When I submitted by mail, I also sent a copy of my driver's license proving who I was as, obviously, I needed to keep the original with me.

LadyGeek, I believe it is part of the funeral home's job to collect the info for the death certificate (and burial license) and get them signed by appropriate people. Once a patient is in hospice the nurse can supply some of the info, but, in your case, you fell into an odd situation because of the timing.

I was also able to report the death to SS by phone. While talking to them, I asked how they would find out someone died if a relative didn't contact them. I think the answer was that the funeral homes send the death certificates to the county for filing. The counties send them to the state. The states do batch processing to inform SS (and likely other government agencies like the IRS.)
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby celia » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:07 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:Mariam2:

I have made arrangements to donate my remains to the University of Miami for medical research.

This should also make it easier and more lucrative my for heirs (no casket, no funeral, no cost).

Best wishes.
Taylor

Taylor, Have you ever asked if they would want them? Do you have a back-up plan should they say "Thank You, but we're unable to accept him."?
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby birdy » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:16 pm

This is an interesting subject for me. Just last week we decided to check into arrangements for our 89 year old mother. As she is so old, we will not have a memorial service where she currently lives. We will have a "family get together" where her plot is located in Iowa on a convenient date for everyone. We decided on "direct Cremation" as mentioned by someone else here in the forum. It includes picking up body, cold storage until crematory is ready for her, the Cremation, 3 death certificates, a plastic box for her ashes, calling medicare/social security to stop her checks. We plan to carry her ashes to Iowa (form needed if flying) and haven't yet decided if we will have the ashes buried in her plot or just sprinkle her over her plot/first husbands plot. We got estimates from $1,000 to about $3,800 . Sister-in-law wants to prepay. To keep peace we will do that. Sister-in-law was shocked that we would want to put her ashes in a plastic box. We convinced her finally that no urn is necessary when you will probably spread the ashes (would she really want to keep an empty urn????)

A direct cremation is what I and my husband had already decided upon for ourselves. No embalming or casket needed. We both have expressed where we want our ashes scattered so no plot or marker needed. The funeral is not for the dead person--it is to satisfy the family members.

birdy

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:31 pm

I lost track of whether the OP had her q. answered.
At any rate, I have learned from this and from perusing a few other past discussions here that one needs to be either an organ donor or a whole body donor for med schools, as the whole body donation cannot be done if there has been previous organ donation. There might also be other reasons for not accepting a deceased at time of passing. So, I guess one would stipulate a contingency plan with ones next of kin.
That was the other info.....that it is one's next of kin who has the right to carry out the donation...or, not to do so, even if the deceased wanted that.
Then there were differences based on state in the USA, and also some variations amongst med institutions.
Thanks for starting an interesting train of thought with things I had not considered before. BT

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby harmony » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:31 am

There can be significant costs associated with deeding a body to science. If there will be a delay of more than 8 hours, according to our nearby medical school, embalming will be required. So if a viewing and funeral with body present are desired, embalming would be required. The estate must bear any funeral home expenses, including transportation to the medical school. The medical school may reject deceased bodies due to contagious disease, trauma, autopsy, excessive weight and a few other reasons. The funeral home which would transport the body to the medical school, should be able to cremate or bury the body if it will be rejected. I haven't yet asked if the medical school would return the researched and burned cremains to the family, but I intend to.

A crematorium can provide rules for scattering ashes. A regular funeral home that a relative consulted gave a him a selectively restrictive list of rules for spreading ashes, aimed at convincing him not to be cremated, but instead to buy a pre-paid funeral plan.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Miriam2 » Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:39 pm

bowtie wrote:I lost track of whether the OP had her q. answered.

OP here!
Yes, many interesting and informative posts, thank you.
One Q still - how fast do funeral costs rise? The cemetery burials costs, caskets, funeral services. They don't seem to rise that fast, like college tuition :shock: , but they must go up. Seems as though the price of the plots goes up more significantly, I guess like real estate.

Another interesting item I did not know - apparently the cemetery does not handle the re-sale of plots, that's done on some open market. Not sure why and haven't looked into it in detail.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby finite_difference » Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:54 pm

I think a good way is to set a budget for your funeral, and have some instructions to go along with it. If you want to have an expensive funeral it would also help to have that money readily available in your estate.

For example, write that you want a $10,000 funeral and have instructions like: I want to be cremated, buried in graveyard X, and I want you to spend the remainder on a memorial if you wish, but do whatever you want.

If you have a fixed number to work with, then there's less chance of the planners getting guilted into spending money on things that you wouldn't have wanted or cared about anyway.

Funeral insurance, prepaying, etc. makes me kind of leery due to all the scams out there. I don't think it's that stressful to arrange a funeral if you have some guidelines and know what the person wanted. (Relatively speaking of course, since the stress of losing the person is so extreme.) But if you have no guidelines to follow then you are kind of left wondering if you did the right thing.

Also arranging the funeral gives you something "to do" whereas if it is completely turnkey you may not feel as involved.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:53 pm

:happy
Thanks for the post and for the great quote on attention!

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Gene2001 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:05 am

We have all decided on cremation, no reason for us to be spending $10-$20k on funerals. Money is needed for the living not the dead.....


That being said we own a family plot with 12 spots left. Never even thought the ashes could be buried with the rest of the family already there (4 members). Anyone know how much it is (around) to have ashes buried in a plot that you already own?

If not we could spread them on top I guess.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Ged » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:23 am

I think it's a good thing to make arrangements beforehand to unburden your survivors and to ensure they don't do something strange. Personally it always seemed to me that cremation was the logical way to get rid of the remains rather than this weird burial stuff.

I know my wife has some strong views on what she wants as well.

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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Miriam2 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:16 pm

celia wrote:My in-laws bought plots overlooking the ocean. Several years later, they changed their minds and bought other plots with "a better view". Now the executor has a hard time getting rid of the surplus lots. No beneficiaries are interested in them.

OP here -
Yes, the hazard of checking out one's final resting place beforehand :wink:

While my husband and I were still deciding whether to prepay or not, we decided to go out and look at our plots, which my husband dryly noted were the only real estate we had fully paid up and owned free and clear.

First, we found mom, but next to her was Uncle Harry :shock: What was he doing there?? My two sisters had reserved that spot and the spot next to it.

We called out our funeral director who carried with him the "Official Map of Plots." Yes, Harry was right where he was supposed to be, although we never ascertained how he got there or who paid for him (knowing Harry, he still owes the bill). The director then pointed out my two sisters' plots - but there was an empty space between them and Uncle Harry :shock: Not supposed to be like that. They were supposed to be next to mom, which now would mean next to Uncle Harry. So who took that other spot? The director couldn't tell us. Family? We don't know.

Then we looked at our own plots. What?? So close to the walkway?? :shock: :shock: Visitors could step on us. Every time we came out to the cemetery we were sure we were on the east side of other relatives already buried, but really we were on the west side.

So, our memory of the way it was supposed to be wasn't accurate. And viewing one's plots ahead of time does have its risks if we're going to fret over a better view and Uncle Harrys and being too close to the walkway :wink:

birdy
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby birdy » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:56 pm

Gene2001: The funeral director told us that it should only be around $200.00 to put the ashes into the plot we already own in Iowa. Very small town--probably cheaper up there.

birdy

Gene2001
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Gene2001 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:16 pm

birdy wrote:Gene2001: The funeral director told us that it should only be around $200.00 to put the ashes into the plot we already own in Iowa. Very small town--probably cheaper up there.

birdy



Thanks, ours is in Queens, NY so I'm sure its gonna cost more. What do they do - anyone know? It has to be in a special urn or container? I'm thinking so. Not just gonna put a coffee can in the ground. So urn or box sealed tight and then digging and un digging. Thinking in NY maybe $1,000.

Still beats a regular funeral. AND its like the person is still buried with the family in the plot. So that might be worked into our plans. Not sure if they would consider the ashes 1 plot of not or if it counts against the 12 already there. Something to look into also. I'm sure the cemetery might say 4 people buriud there and 4 people in ashes - that is 8 spots

djbaer
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby djbaer » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:51 pm

I'm a little late to the discussion, but I'd like to add a few comments. As a pastor, I have seen the gift that prearranging (as opposed to prepaying) a funeral can do for family members. Having to make so many decisions -- service, music, Scripture, etc. not to mention funeral details -- when someone dies can be difficult. Families really appreciate this thoughtful gift to them. I strongly encourage folks to make arrangements or clearly express their wishes to their family members before they die.

If you're making advance arrangements, prepaying can also be a gift. It also gives you the opportunity to compare prices. Very few people price shop immediately after a death. The prices mentioned above seem very very high. I live in South Dakota and most funerals here cost families much less than you describe. But even here there is a significant difference in cost among funeral homes.

Funeral homes seem to handle prepayments in different ways. The funeral home I work with here the most has folks contribute to a CD (I'm sure some other type of account could be chosen as well) that is in their name with the funeral home noted. When the death occurs, the bank cashes the CD, the money for the funeral is used for funeral and related expenses. I think any surplus is given to heirs as instructed.

littlebird
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby littlebird » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:55 pm

Gene2001 wrote:Thanks, ours is in Queens, NY so I'm sure its gonna cost more. What do they do - anyone know? It has to be in a special urn or container? I'm thinking so. Not just gonna put a coffee can in the ground. So urn or box sealed tight and then digging and un digging. Thinking in NY maybe $1,000.


I've looked into the issue of how ashes are buried and have found that at least for the National Cemetery where we expect to make our next home, a "vault" is required, so that caretaking machinery doesn't crash through into a void. If you google "urns" on line you'll discover that a "vault" in this context is simply a substantial box, such as one made of reconstituted marble . Other types of materials, even paper I believe, are acceptable, but metal and glass, are not.

Some of the same materials acceptable for burying are also acceptable for carrying on (and x-raying) ashes, if you're planning on taking, or being taken, on a plane ride in that state.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby unclescrooge » Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:01 am

Taylor Larimore wrote:Mariam2:

I have made arrangements to donate my remains to the University of Miami for medical research.

This should also make it easier and more lucrative my for heirs (no casket, no funeral, no cost).

Best wishes.
Taylor


+1
Donating your body to science is free!

In California they'll even pick up the body.

gkaplan
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby gkaplan » Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:04 am

Just one word, and it's not plastics: Cryonics.
Gordon

jjface
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby jjface » Mon Sep 12, 2016 2:02 am

Epsilon Delta wrote: ... third party caskets. You could buy some now and keep them in your basement.


I hope that is a joke! :shock: Talk about creeeepy!

Church Lady
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Church Lady » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:56 pm

Cremation: Is it cheaper?

Well in my Dad's case it was not. He wanted to be cremated, but failed to provide any detail beyond 'cremate me'. He didn't even say why he wanted to be cremated. It never occurred to us while he was living, that it might be important for us to know such things, or even how serious he was about it. That was naive of him and of us, but I doubt it is uncommon.

It ended up costing us more than a traditional burial service would have. Part of this is due to a local law saying you have to be cremated in a burial casket (There goes saving on the casket!). And after paying all that, we had no idea what to do with the ashes, he having left no instructions on the matter. :oops: Eventually we buried the ashes, incurring additional expense for the interment. Did he want to end up in the ground? Did he want a funeral more expensive than a traditional burial? Hard to say, he having LEFT NO INSTRUCTIONS :oops: :oops: :oops: Don't do this to your survivors.

I'm not saying don't be cremated; that's up to you. What I am saying is that if you want cremation because you think it's cheap, think again. Check out the actual costs in your area from picking up your mortal remains through the viewing/funeral/memorial to disposing of your ashes before you decide. Then, whatever you decide, leave detailed instructions for your survivors. Just saying!
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

leonard
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby leonard » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:02 pm

Church Lady wrote:Cremation: Is it cheaper?

Well in my Dad's case it was not. He wanted to be cremated, but failed to provide any detail beyond 'cremate me'. He didn't even say why he wanted to be cremated. It never occurred to us while he was living, that it might be important for us to know such things, or even how serious he was about it. That was naive of him and of us, but I doubt it is uncommon.

It ended up costing us more than a traditional burial service would have. Part of this is due to a local law saying you have to be cremated in a burial casket (There goes saving on the casket!). And after paying all that, we had no idea what to do with the ashes, he having left no instructions on the matter. :oops: Eventually we buried the ashes, incurring additional expense for the interment. Did he want to end up in the ground? Did he want a funeral more expensive than a traditional burial? Hard to say, he having LEFT NO INSTRUCTIONS :oops: :oops: :oops: Don't do this to your survivors.

I'm not saying don't be cremated; that's up to you. What I am saying is that if you want cremation because you think it's cheap, think again. Check out the actual costs in your area from picking up your mortal remains through the viewing/funeral/memorial to disposing of your ashes before you decide. Then, whatever you decide, leave detailed instructions for your survivors. Just saying!


All due respect, but this complexity is mostly inserted by the survivors.

My instruction to my wife is use the cheapest means available, cremate, and I don't care what happens to the ashes. I won't care...for the obvious reason. My goal is to have survivors waste literally as little money as possible - with the bonus of not getting ripped off by the funeral industry.

If local law requires a casket - go to the next jurisdiction that doesn't.
Leonard | | | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

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Jim85
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Jim85 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:49 pm

My Dad died last November. He and my Mom had the pre-paid arrangement. I guess it was helpful but there were still decisions to be made and some extra costs. Don't recall the numbers but the extra costs were more than what I would have expected. Pre-plan (vs Prepay) might be the way to go.

Miriam2
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Miriam2 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:54 pm

djbaer wrote:I'm a little late to the discussion, but I'd like to add a few comments. As a pastor, I have seen the gift that prearranging (as opposed to prepaying) a funeral can do for family members. Having to make so many decisions -- service, music, Scripture, etc. not to mention funeral details -- when someone dies can be difficult. Families really appreciate this thoughtful gift to them. I strongly encourage folks to make arrangements or clearly express their wishes to their family members before they die.

If you're making advance arrangements, prepaying can also be a gift. It also gives you the opportunity to compare prices. Very few people price shop immediately after a death. The prices mentioned above seem very very high. I live in South Dakota and most funerals here cost families much less than you describe. But even here there is a significant difference in cost among funeral homes.

Funeral homes seem to handle prepayments in different ways. The funeral home I work with here the most has folks contribute to a CD (I'm sure some other type of account could be chosen as well) that is in their name with the funeral home noted. When the death occurs, the bank cashes the CD, the money for the funeral is used for funeral and related expenses. I think any surplus is given to heirs as instructed.

Thank you djbaer for your comments and helpful thoughts - from the other side :happy

leonard
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby leonard » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:24 pm

Jim85 wrote:My Dad died last November. He and my Mom had the pre-paid arrangement. I guess it was helpful but there were still decisions to be made and some extra costs. Don't recall the numbers but the extra costs were more than what I would have expected. Pre-plan (vs Prepay) might be the way to go.


Partial pre-payment locks the survivors in to providers that can choose to overprice the net remaining items to be bought.

If someone is going to prepay - they should prepay and negotiate the entire cost - all services and products associated with the preparation and burial. Everything.
Leonard | | | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

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StevieG72
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby StevieG72 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:07 am

I second the pre-plan idea.

It is a stressful time, anything to make things easier will be a blessing.

My Dad passed away in 2013, and had purchased a plot at the cemetery many years prior.

Even without that the expense the funeral costs came in around $12,000. And it was a relatively basic service.

My Mom did decide to upgrade the casket, the most basic model was rather plain.

Some surprising costs included roughly $800 for an obituary in the local paper. $2500 for a granite tombstone / marker.

I plan on being cremated and having my ashes scattered in the Chesapeake Bay.

I spoke with someone recently that purchased a makeshift urn at the dollar store as they were not going to pay the ridiculous prices charged by the funeral home.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

Benton Bair
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Benton Bair » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:35 am

This year I prepaid cremation services in the amount of $1,500.00 with the money held by an insurance company in the form of an annuity. Price is fixed there will be no opportunity to up sell. Survivor will make a call to Cremation Society and it will transport remains to business location. When coroner issues death certificate cremation will occur. Cremains placed in urn and forwarded to VA cemetery and buried with marker placed at no additional cost to survivors. If any additional paper work is needed service will visit in person at survivor's location or send by mail if survivor prefers. One call and business is finished. I made it as simple as I could. I'm history.

RudyS
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby RudyS » Sun Sep 18, 2016 3:22 pm

One issue to think about when prepaying is what are the chances that at some time before the time comes, you change your mind about location. Maybe Massachusetts instead of Michigan, etc. Plots can be resold (possibly at a loss), but is a contract for the rest refundable or transferable?

Miriam2
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Miriam2 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:04 am

gkaplan wrote:Just one word, and it's not plastics: Cryonics.

Much too cold, Gordon, even just thinking about it. Remember, we're used to warm weather and balmy South Florida breezes 8-)

inittowinit
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby inittowinit » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:25 am

I found this recently posted video on the topic illuminating:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcnN1JXVNFo

leonard
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby leonard » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:41 pm

RudyS wrote:One issue to think about when prepaying is what are the chances that at some time before the time comes, you change your mind about location. Maybe Massachusetts instead of Michigan, etc. Plots can be resold (possibly at a loss), but is a contract for the rest refundable or transferable?


Seriously, if that comes up as a risk to actually be mitigated - the mind changer needs a new hobby.

In reality - once the prepayment is "collected" - the buyer will not care about the real estate.
Leonard | | | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

Miriam2
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby Miriam2 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:31 pm

RudyS wrote:One issue to think about when prepaying is what are the chances that at some time before the time comes, you change your mind about location. Maybe Massachusetts instead of Michigan, etc. Plots can be resold (possibly at a loss), but is a contract for the rest refundable or transferable?

I think this may be important for many people and was one of my questions for the funeral director. We simply wanted to know the risk of prepaying and then not using. For some people, they may envision possibly moving closer to children across-state or out-of-state, so the risk of prepayment might be something to weigh.

For us, some items are non-refundable, such as the cemetery plot and the outer burial container, which must be sold however cemetery plots are sold on the market. However, the prepayment for the burial, the marker, and many of the funeral items is refundable and also transferable to another funeral home in the same network, which spans nationwide. I'm not sure about every item, however, and I can't remember whether the casket is refundable but I think it is. It's sold as a "contract for services and merchandise," so it would be in the contract.

bowtie
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:03 am

There is another option which I was just reading about (online, from Kiplinger's). It outlined a Totten Trust, which isn't actually a trust, but rather a basic bank account you set up yourself, with a beneficiary of either a designated family member or funeral home in order to pay for the expenses. It is a pay on death account. That way, you can do whatever you want with the account, rather than pre paying the funeral home in advance and having them hold the funds till time of need in an insurance policy which is what they usually do, according to what I found in my reading and talking to one local place so far.
If the issue is having things exactly as you want, then one would have to make a list of just what is wanted, not just having an account to cover the cost. I read online about a funeral home (this was in Washington state) that keeps a record on file of a person's wishes which constitutes their 'plan' without paying for it at the time of the plan.
This doesn't help in the issue of property prices going up over the years for cemetery plots. That would have to be purchased in order to lock in the cost but that can be paid for on a payment plan.
I never spent quite this much time thinking about this, but I guess I figured it was a good idea to try to get a bit organized with this, and leave things 'neat' and easy for survivors. :happy

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wander
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby wander » Sat Sep 24, 2016 5:38 am

Miriam2 wrote:Are other Bogleheads financially planning for their funerals by using prepayment plans?

I think I am a boglehead alright but my father in law was not. When he passed away, he did not prepay his funeral and left nothing. One of my sister-in-laws volunteered to handle the funeral and we all paid evenly after the event. Everything went fine, nobody was broke. For me, I have money, but I am not going to prepay my funeral either.

bowtie
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:32 am

I just read about something I had never thought about.
If you have pre paid for a funeral it may be that part of that arrangement is a plan in the insurance policy that will pay for transportation by air and arrangements between 2 mortuaries if one dies more than 100 miles from one's residence. So the mortuaries, rather than families themselves, make those arrangements.

I haven't decided anything yet about pre plan vs. pre pay..... for anything yet.....the options would be either pre plan or pre pay now (or in installments) so that one isn't paying future higher prices ...but there's always the option of having that POD account set aside for those purposes later on (with higher prices than they are now, though).

bowtie
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Re: Preparing financially for our funerals - prepay or not?

Postby bowtie » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:10 pm

I didn't do anything yet but am still thinking of whether to pre pay or just pre plan for cemetery (probably just pre plan for mortuary/funeral cost rather than pay). The thought is that in this area, land prices go up and maybe it is nice to lock in a lower price which is nice for beneficiary as well.
Still, it is true that there's nothing wrong with just pre planning and not paying.
Anybody have any more input to share? BT


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