The Party You Plan But Can’t Attend

Every good will or trust will say something about paying the executor’s “final expenses,” otherwise known as funeral and/or memorial costs. As a small portion of what can sometimes be a very large and intricate document, this “final expense” clause can seem unimportant—but our firm knows better. We know just how important this pre-planning can be, and so does Sarah Arnquist, author of the article The Caregiver’s Last Expense in the New Old Age Blog.

A funeral comes at a time when the death of a loved one is recent and close, and many people are still in shock and in some cases struggling with the reality of loss. Funerals help grieving loved ones come to terms with death and say their final goodbyes… but for the person planning the funeral the experience can sometimes be a frustrating, painful, and expensive experience. Planning ahead for your own funeral—discussing it with your loved ones and even including your wishes in your estate plan—can remove this burden from their shoulders when the time comes.

Although pre-planning a funeral is essential, Arnquist writes that pre-paying for a funeral can actually be detrimental. According to Josh Slocum of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, there are just too many things that can go wrong, he says, and “only a few states have adequate legal protections for prepaid funeral customers.” Pre-paying may be a no-no, but setting aside funds—in an account, CDs, or a specially designated insurance policy—is always a good idea.

And when considering the final expenses of yourself or your loved one, “Judy in Oakland” (who is not quoted in the article itself, but who left an eloquent comment in the comments section) reminds us that funeral and burial are not the only expenses that need to be considered. “Disposing of the deceased’s property is an extremely daunting, labor-intensive, and complicated matter, even without real estate… disposal of furniture and goods is becoming a bigger and bigger problem — so for other caregivers out there — brace yourselves.”