Why should I preplan?
Q: My husband just tells me to throw him in the back yard when he dies.
A: You know, many people say that, but who is to say he will die first? Is that what you would want him to do with you? Of course, you can't do that for either of you – that's why it's important to have a realistic plan. Sixty-seven percent of the time, it's the wife who is left alone to make all of the decisions. We can meet with both of you at a convenient time to go over all your options. It truly is a gift of love to preplan your final arrangements. It makes so much sense to understand each other's wishes – not to overspend, but to be prepared with affordable monthly payments. And if he truly is not interested, you can preplan on your own so that you're prepared when death occurs.
Q: We have insurance. I don't have to spend any money now.
A: Insurance is wonderful! But what if you can no longer afford your monthly payments? All those years of paying your premiums will be for nothing. What if your insurance is provided by an employer – and the job is lost? We don't know what the future holds. Many people live into their 80s – an age when many insurance policies terminate – what then? Cemetery arrangements you buy now are yours forever – no one can take them away, no matter what your financial circumstances are in the future.
Your cost is frozen – no matter how much things cost 30 years from now. How much insurance would be enough?
Q: My children can pay for everything – I raised them and it's the least they can do for me.
A: Great! Then let's get together with them and let them take advantage of today's prices. We can set them up with monthly payments so they can start paying now and won't be surprised in the future. They may not have the money to meet the expenses when the time comes. They will have their own financial responsibilities – children, tuition, car payments, and medical bills. I have seen only a handful of children and their spouses who were truly honored to pay for a parent's funeral – often they are dismayed and their spouses can be resentful. What if you live to be 90 or even 100? Your children could be 70 or 80 and in no position to pay your bills – or they may have predeceased you.
Q: I just want to be cremated – then they can do what they want with me.
A: It's fine to be cremated – but will your family actually be comfortable doing that? If you have discussed cremation with your family and everyone is comfortable, choose a final resting place for at least some of your ashes – somewhere that will be marked with your name and dates. It's your final footprint, a place where family can connect with you again. We see it over and over again – people want to feel close to their loved one. Even if it's only infrequently, they know they can be near the person they love.
Sometimes it's a daughter going through a divorce and needs to feel close to her mom, or a grandson who has never met his grandfather, but finds they had the same birthday, or the granddaughter born on her grandparents' anniversary. When your ashes are scattered or left in a closet there is no marked resting place – you become part of a lost generation. No one wants to be forgotten.