Unfortunately, death is as certain as life itself. When we are adolescents, we feel somehow invulnerable to risks and think of death as an uncertain concept. In the prime of life, we know the risks, but we still think of planning for “if I die.” When we pass life’s prime, death is not nearly as speculative. Many friends and family members may have gone before us.
While death is never easy to contemplate, it is much easier to make the decisions that must be made when illness and grieving are not constant companions. Do you want a religious ceremony? If so, do you have a preferred liturgy? Do you want to be cremated? Where do you want to be buried? Where do you want donations sent?
There are many decisions to be made. Making them yourself can be a loving thing that prevents intra-family squabbles at a time when family members are most vulnerable. If you are a caretaker for your parent or other loved one, addressing this issue early can provide peace of mind later as death draws near. Waiting until someone has died adds more emotion and strain to an already difficult situation. Further, some funeral providers will attempt to play off your loss to get you to spend more than what you had wanted “out of respect for your loved one.”
It is possible to purchase the funeral ahead of time, “pre-need” when you are stronger emotionally. However, you must be careful to know exactly what you are getting and make sure that the business will be there when the “need” arises. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has a very helpful consumer’s guide for funerals:
In addition to adding peace of mind, purchasing a funeral ahead of time can be a good strategy if you are planning on qualifying for Medicaid. Cash sitting in the bank would be an “available resource” for Medicaid purposes and may need to be “spent down” prior to receiving Medicaid assistance. However, funeral arrangements are not considered to be an available resource. For example, let’s say you have $7,000 more than the otherwise available Medicaid exemptions (such as the family home). If you take that $7,000 and use it to buy a funeral plan, you would not have to spend it down prior to receiving Medicaid assistance.
As with all estate planning, pre-planning can help achieve a better financial and emotional outcome. An attorney who focuses on the practice areas of estate planning and elder law can help you decide if buying a pre-need funeral plan is right for you.
Morrison Law Group, PLC has devoted its practice to estate planning and elder law matters for more than 16 years and has been a Member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys since 2017. Morrison Law Group, PLC is one of only three firms in Louisiana to be admitted to Academy Membership. The firm has helped thousands of clients meet their estate planning goals and pass on lasting legacies to their loved ones. To learn more about how you can achieve your estate planning goals, please call our office at (504) 831-2348 or contact us through our website.
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