Your estate planning focus is likely 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 one will also include additional considerations. Funeral planning may not be something you wish to spend much time thinking about; however, there are several reasons why it should be included in your estate plan. Toward that end, the Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Collins Law Firm explain why funeral planning should be part of your estate plan.
Death Is Expensive
Experts in the industry 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. They won’t have much time to figure it out either. The reality is that the salesperson working with your loved ones knows the stress they are dealing with 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.
How Can Funeral Planning Help?
Do you have strong opinions about what happens to you after your death and/or about how your passing is honored? 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 at your funeral? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, funeral planning should be part of your estate plan.
Regardless of how frequently and 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 absent a funeral planning component in your estate plan. The death of a spouse, parent or other close loved one makes thinking clearly difficult, increasing the likelihood that your loved ones will not remember and/or act on your wishes.
What Is a Funeral Trust?
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 Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about including funeral planning in your estate plan, be sure to consult with an experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorney. Contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to register for one of our FREE estate planning workshops.