Funerals and Finances «

Funerals and Finances

By planning a funeral ahead of time you can save yourself from mistakes you may make in the emotionally vulnerable state you’ll be in after the loss of a loved one. Planning your own funeral may sound grim, but it can save your loved ones time and money.

Ones estate is exempt from taxes up to 5-million dollars, 10-million for couples. Gifts, which reduce the value of one’s estate therefore the taxes paid on it, are also exempt up to 5-million dollars and 10-million for couples. Tax laws for estates are set to change January 1, 2013, so if you’re planning on dying, do it soon.

A will is necessary to dispose of one’s assets properly after death. Wills should be drafted with the advice of an attorney.

One should figure out who to give power of attorney to. There are two types of power of attorney: financial and healthcare. Financial power of attorney allows a representative to take care of one’s financial needs. It is a good idea to choose a trustworthy and business savvy representative.

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If one becomes incapacitated, healthcare power of attorney allows a representative to make medical decisions on one’s behalf. These decisions include allowing a doctor to proceed with medicinal and surgical treatments, or deactivating life-support in the case of prolonged incapacitation. An alternative or addendum to a healthcare power of attorney is a living will. A living will states the procedures one would prefer in case of incapacitation.

Now that financial matters are taken care of, we can turn to the actual funeral ceremony.

First a plot needs to have been purchased. Hopefully this has been done in advance. Then one must decide on whether the funeral will be private or public, religious, and whether their will be an opened or closed casket. Also, one must decide whether there will be an actual service.

According to the federal trade commission the average funeral should cost about $6000. This cost includes burial, a casket, and funeral home costs. This does not include costs for a headstone, headstone photo, or porcelain photo memorial. Though a porcelain photo memorial can be purchased at any time after the funeral. The actual funeral also involves transportation costs and administrative costs.

Funeral homes are by law not allowed to force customers to buy a casket from them. A funeral director must provide prices over the phone. This gives consumers a chance to look around to find the best prices in their area. When giving an invoice, the funeral home must provide an itemized list of costs associated with the funeral.

If a funeral is pre-paid, that is, arranged in advance of the passing of a loved one, the funeral home must provide a contract stipulating a plan in case the funeral home goes out of business. A consumer can cancel the pre-paid funeral contract within 10-days of signing to receive a full refund. Cremation is a much less expensive alternative to burial.

Remember, before signing up with a funeral home, know exactly what you’re paying to avoid being overcharged later.


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