Wills, Estate Plans and Legacies
“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” The line from the Kenny Chesney song is all too true. And nobody wants to plan for their death either. We don’t like to talk about death (or money, or sex, or religion). But planning for the unexpected (crazy to say unexpected as we’re all going to die) should be viewed as a gift to the family and friends that you’re leaving behind. If you want to leave your family with a mess – stress, arguments, sadness – then don’t leave them any instructions, just let them duke it out. Yes, planning for death freaks some people out, I get it. Not crazy about it either, but I do love my family and I want to make sure they are taken care and know my wishes. Let’s talk about a wills, trusts, probate, and power of attorney and what they are and what they do.
If you’re dealing with the loss of loved one right now, you’re hurting and it’s a difficult situation. If you’re trying to figure out how to pay for the funeral too, it’s creating additional stress. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about some options for paying for a funeral including:
- How Much?
- Credit Cards / Loans
- Fund Raisers / CareFund™
- Family Members
- Church / Employer
Most of us don’t like to think about funerals, and certainly not paying for them. But having a plan is good idea. So let’s talk about some options.
Cash – Save up and pay for it.
Having cash to pay for emergencies is always is a good idea. Most financial planners recommend having 3 to 6 months of expenses saved for emergencies. For most people, that fully funded emergency fund would pay for a funeral. It would also allow you to get on a airplane to go be with family during a time of loss. To get your emergency fund in place, I recommend following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps:
Baby Step 1 – $1,000 cash in bank as fast as you can. It’s only to be used for emergencies.
Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt (other than your home) using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in emergency fund.
To see the rest of Dave’s baby’s steps – click here.
I can’t help but be in awe of children whose lives were cut short, but yet who have ultimately forever changed the paths of countless others. One day my daughter was drinking out of her favorite cup. It was a cute little cup with pictures of lemons and a little girl with a lemonade stand. It read “Alex’s Lemonade Stand.” I got on her website and found out that this precious little girl started this lemonade stand in order to raise money for childhood cancer research while she herself was battling this horrible illness. What a brave little girl! Sadly, she lost her life at the age of 8. To this day, her family is continuing to raise money for her charity. They could have stopped, but they didn’t. Her name and legacy of what she started lives on.
Then there is John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted. His son Adam was abducted and murdered. Out of this horrible and senseless crime the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was created. Because of Adam’s parents’ determination for justice, abducted children have been reunited with their parents. The Walsh’s lives have been forever changed and yet Adam has forever changed the lives of others.
And then there is Amber Hagerman. Her death is the reason all 50 states now have an Amber Alert. Her life lives on. Law enforcement and broadcasters are now a united front in working to bring home children. What a bittersweet moment every time an Amber Alert is issued and heard by her family.
This reminds me a fellow high school classmate who died suddenly from a bacterial infection his senior year. His parents and brother established a scholarship helping other students whose economic status would otherwise hinder them from attending college. The vast majority of these recipients have now graduated with degrees and have forever changed their economic family tree. His life lives on through others.
I can go on and on about all the stories I’ve heard and read about where one child’s passing has altered the lives of countless others. I’m interested in your stories. Do you know someone who has started a foundation in memory of? Or have you yourself started one in memory of your child? Your experiences may change the life and path of someone reading this.
Dealing with the passing of a loved one is truly a devastating and painful time for everyone involved. But for a child, it may be more of a confusing and scary time for them. Some children may suppress their emotions because they may not know how to communicate them or not want to express them for risk of fearing that they are adding to the pain. Other children lash out and begin misbehaving. This includes both young and older children. The website http://www.memories-are-forever.org is catered towards helping both parents and children make that transition from distress to healing a bit easier and healthier.
This website offers unique and creative memory books to commemorate the life of the loved one who has passed. On the homepage, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Remembering a Loved One.” Then, type in “Children” in the search engine. Once there, you will have access to an assortment of Memory Books, Grief Journals and Keepsake Journals that grieving families can do together. There are activities for all ages: children, teenagers and adults. There are also books, tips on gathering and sharing memories and memorial gifts.
I love that these journals have easy and clear steps that direct the family in capturing their thoughts and memories. One does not have to deal with gathering different supplies as in scrapbooking. Everything is in one clear package. What a wonderful way to help a child understand their emotions and chronicle a memoir that they can always look at so that their loved ones will always be remembered. I believe that not only will the healing process be a bit healthier for all those involved, but it will truly bring a family much closer and impact their lives in a positive manner.
According to recent reports, the percentage of Americans prematurely cashing out of their 401K funds has increased by 25%. Most say that they simply need the money to pay their bills. Next, consider that the percentage of people in the US who own a life insurance policy has fallen to historic lows. Only 41% of Americans now have a life insurance policy. Finally, another recent study claims that the average American only has $3800 in savings.
Given these depressing facts, let’s now consider a very sobering scenario: someone in the household passes away. The family visits the neighborhood funeral home and express their wishes and desires for a fitting funeral and burial for their loved one. The funeral director tallies up the list of expenses and presents the family with a bill for $10,550 (the cost of an average funeral in 2012). Now what? The funeral home may offer financing options through a related finance company with an obnoxious interest rate. The 401K is gone, the insurance is non-existent and the $3800 in savings is grossly inadequate. This is the nightmare that an increasing number of Americans are confronting. Wasn’t the loss of life bad enough? It is imperative that families create contingency plans so that the dark day of death is not further complicated by a lack of finances!
Experts predict that online shopping will increase by 62% from current levels to 2016. According to Forrester Research Group, 192 million Americans will be shopping online by 2016. The average amount spent online will jump to $1,738 up from $1,207 in 2012.
Why are consumers moving away from bricks and mortar shopping? Primarily because they feel that they can find better deals online. Other factors include promotional tools and loyalty programs. Smart phones and tablets are also credited with the increasing popularity of online shopping. Finally there is the convenience factor—shopping at home in pajamas at any hour of the day or night!
When a family experiences the death of a loved one, many find it difficult to enter the door of the local funeral home—afraid that they will be pressured to make unwanted purchases or to explain that they don’t have the funds necessary to pay for the services they have just chosen. If your credit card is going to be declined, it is far easier if it happens at home online that sitting across the fancy desk from the guy in the black suit! Thus, don’t be surprised to see a big jump in the percentage of end-of-life products and services purchased online over the next four years. After all, if I can better for less for me online, doesn’t it stand to reason that I can give Grandma a far better farewell by shopping online?