The calls came one day apart…
The first young man said that his mother had died and they had no money and they didn’t know who to call, because they had no money for a funeral. The next day when I answered the phone, another young man was calling because his mother-in-law was expected to die within the next 24 hours. His question was the same – they had no money, did I know a funeral home that would work for free or take payments.
While these two situations were not related, their circumstances were the same. I advised each caller that they could have a cremation service for $820 (at that time), and both callers responded the same. Each said “we don’t have any money” – one caller said “we don’t even have $8.20” – then the heartbreaking part – each caller said “and she specifically said she didn’t want to be cremated.”
I can’t judge these mothers, I don’t know their situations, I don’t know their circumstances, but I do know their families were in great distress and had no resources. If pre-planning was done on reaching adulthood, this problem could have been avoided. Families can be not only emotionally overburdened, but financially overburdened if pre-planning is not in place.
“But I just can’t afford to pre-plan” – the real question is “Can you afford not to pre-plan?” The average price of a funeral is $7,000 to $9,000, which does not include a burial space. Which one of your family members can write a check? Most funeral homes require payment in full prior to burial. Many times families are forced to go into debt to pay for funerals. Many graves remain unmarked because families can’t afford to pay for the marker.
Even if funds are limited, if you plan early enough, small payments can be made into a funeral trust so your family has the financial means that match the plans you want to have. Working with a final arrangement specialist and making preparation for those final plans is something that should be done sooner rather than later in order to prevent scenarios such as those described above. Many times family members have to pool their resources in order to pay for one funeral. This can create disagreements and problems because family members may not have equal assets or may not be willing to participate equally in the financial arrangements.
Oftentimes parents say “my kids get along just fine….” but do they really?
Death and money matters may bring out the worst in people. There may be disagreements on the type of funeral plans if they haven’t been discussed in advance. Some may want elaborate, some may want frugal, so let the disagreements begin. I have seen people leave the funeral home not speaking to family members because of arguments over the final arrangement details and financial arrangements. Do you want this to be the case in your family? Are you willing to take that risk? Do you want to promote family harmony and protect your loved ones emotionally and financially? Do you want to take those steps sooner rather than later?