When you contemplate your estate plan you likely focus on how you want your estate distributed after your death and/or on how to ensure that loved ones are provided for in your absence. While these are certainly necessary and common priorities in an estate plan, a comprehensive estate plan will include additional components as well. One of those, funeral planning, may not be something you wish to spend much time thinking about; however, there are several reasons why you should do so nonetheless. Toward that end, the Fargo trust attorneys at German Law Group explain how a funeral trust works and why you might want to use one in your estate plan.
Dying Is Expensive
Very few things in life are free, and death is not one of them. In fact, death can be very expensive. Given the numerous variables that impact the cost of death, it can be difficult to predict the cost. Experts in the industry, however, tell us that an average modest funeral and burial will run over $10,000. If you choose to purchase a more expensive casket or headstone, and/or the service memorializing your death is larger and/or more elaborate than average, that cost can easily double or triple. Because you will obviously not be available to assist at the time, your loved ones will be responsible for figuring out how to pay for everything involved in your funeral and burial if you failed to plan ahead. They won’t have much time to figure it out either. Making matter worse is the reality that the salesperson working with your loved ones knows the stress they under and the grief they are dealing with – and may use that to his/her advantage. Unfortunately, many grieving survivors end up paying way more than they should for funeral and burial services simply because they weren’t thinking clearly when they signed the contract or negotiate the purchase.
Why Funeral Planning Is Necessary
Do you have strong opinions with regard to what happens to you at the end of your life? For example, do you want to be cremated or buried? Do you want a small service or a large one? Should there be music and videos of your life or a somber tribute? Who should speak at the service? Is there a special poem or message you want to be read? Whatever your wishes are, planning ahead is the key to ensuring that those wishes are honored when the time comes.
No matter how frequently nor how thoroughly you have discussed your feelings on issues related to your own funeral and burial, there is a very good chance that things will not be handled according to your wishes unless you ensure that they will by planning them yourself. The vast majority of people don’t handle decision making well when they are under stress of any kind. If that stress is caused by the very recent death of a spouse, parent, or other close loved one, you can’t really expect the individual to be thinking clearly much less making well thought out decisions. Even worse is the very real possibility that loved ones will end up in a full-blown battle over control if they don’t all agree how to handle your funeral and burial.
How Can a Funeral Trust Help?
An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is a special type of trust that is funded by the proceeds of a life insurance policy. As the Settlor, you create the trust and appoint a Trustee to administer the trust. You then purchase, or transfer in, a life insurance policy, the proceeds of which pay out immediately into the trust upon your death. Those proceeds then fund your funeral service. Along with providing the funding, however, you can also use the trust terms to ensure that your burial and funeral are carried out according to your wishes. For instance, you can use the terms to specify where you want to be buried or that you want to be cremated. You can be extremely detailed — providing a list of music, dictating the guest list, and choosing the flowers – or keep it general. Your Trustee will be legally obligated to abide by those terms once the trust activates. By including an ILIT in your funeral and burial plan you ensure that your wishes will be honored while simultaneously preventing family conflict by removing the need for loved ones to make decisions and struggle to locate funds.
Contact Trust Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating a funeral trust, or about funeral planning in general, contact the Grand Forks trust attorneys at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.