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Friday, July 28, 2017

How to Manage Your Monkey: Special Edition: Final Arrangements

Recently, a friend of ours had a close friend die.  That, in and of itself, is sad enough.  This friend left his widow with no idea where his accounts were.  This makes life incredibly difficult while dealing with grief and, at the same time, having a great deal of anxiety due to uncertainty.

David once worked with a large cemetery that is part of the largest corporation in the death industry in the world. While working there as a family services counselor, David witnessed two extremes of planning.

There was one gentleman that made his cemetery arrangements back in the 1950s and paid for everything there was to pay for at the cemetery.  He bought his plot, marker, vault, and paid for the opening and closing of the grave.  He selected his marker and designed it.  The only thing the family had to do was sign the internment order.  This was something he could not do in advance.

When he died, the funeral home (which pretends to be your best friend) tried to sell the family a plot, marker, and a vault.  When the family found out they did not need to buy these things, they were upset with the funeral home, but they were very proud of Daddy.

When the family came to sign the internment order, I pointed out how wise a businessman Daddy was because the items he bought at about $800 in the 1950s were now worth nearly $6,000.

Burying a loved one is never easy. To top that off, there are all sorts of charletons out there who see an insurance policy and it is their goal to get as much of that as they can.

A person who is grieving feels very bad discussing prices and only wants the best money can buy for their dearly departed.  Preplanning and prepaying for the funeral and other final expenses saves buying out of grief.

One thing that is very important is to make sure that when you die, those who have to finalize your estate have all the information they need to do so.  That is where an investment of just a few dollars, or maybe even just a few cents, can save your loved ones a whole lot of hardship and expense.

A couple should sit down and discuss where all the money is.  While they do this, they need to write down all the account numbers, usernames, and passwords in a cheap composition notebook. It does not have to be fancy, just have enough paper to list all the information needed to finalize the estate.

In this notebook, the couple should list the names of all banks, brokerages, insurance companies, and any place else where the couple has money.

List the policy numbers, account numbers, etc. If there is a safe deposit box, write down the number, where it is located, where the key is located, and who has access to it.

If there is a power of attorney or will, write down where it is.  Write down the date of the last will and testament and where it is.  

Then, I know this sounds crazy, place the notebook in a ziplock freezer bag and place it in your refrigerator’s freezer.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that, in the case of a fire, the refrigerator is not likely to burn.  The second reason is that it sounds so odd people will probably remember where it is.

Make sure both spouses know where this is located and all trusted adult children and others you trust.  You may want to put a copy of your living will and/or power of attorney in the ziplock bag with the notebook.  

Remember to spell out any funeral arrangements you have made. Call up your local funeral home and ask about pre-need funeral arrangements.  Many financial gurus will tell you that prepaying your funeral expense is not a wise investment.  From a purely dollars and cents return on investment point of view, it is not usually a wonderful investment.  

However, from the point of view of saving your loved ones the turmoil of dealing with substantial investment on what may well be one of the worst times in their lives, it is an outstanding investment

Check with your state to make sure that your funeral home/cemetery complies with all the state-mandated regulations regarding pre-need funeral arrangements and talk with your funeral home of choice.   

You will never know how much grief you will save by doing this.  However, your loved ones will be much better off.  Do it now.

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  1. That is a good idea to put a notebook in the freezer. We have our burial plot and stone in place already, but we do need to write out instructions as we don't want to be cremated.

    1. Writing them out and planning with a local funeral home are good ideas. Have a great week.


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