Sunday, April 22nd – It’s officially the start of rolling up our sleeves to make and record our decisions. We don’t have to start from scratch, though, since there are, oh, about 7,000 planning guides out there to choose from. Today our job is to pick one out and get it in hand as soon as possible so we can keep moving along.
I think of planning guides as being like baby books – they come in many different styles and approaches. Also – just like baby books, once you choose one, you still have to fill it out, which is not always easy. But that’s what we’re doing together – no apologies will be necessary to your survivors-to-be. Plus, filling out this guide we’re choosing now won’t stretch out in time. Memorial Day will be here soon and we’ll be done!
First decision – do you want to use a guide you can write in or do you want to fill out an online guide? I like the fact that online guides can be easily updated and easily shared with as many others as you’d like. For myself, though, a hard copy of a guide was less daunting and I wasn’t sure I could manage the on-line aspect, given my limited computer skills. I’m having enough trouble getting these blog posts up online.
On to content and approach – What we’re looking for is a guide that covers a wide range of information, and here’s a great blog post to help. I know and respect Jasmine Tanguay, who helps people create plans, and in this post gives a review of many planning guide choices, including online guides:
You can talk with funeral directors for some parts of the planning, of course. It’s also possible to care for your own loved ones at home, and a future post will talk about that option.
A nonprofit organization, the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance, gives these two pieces of advice:
-In addition to meeting with funeral directors and seeing their funeral homes, ask for a price list, mandated by federal law. It’s a good idea to compare prices of any funeral homes you might choose from, since prices can vary widely.
-The general guideline is to pre-plan but not pre-pay. If it’s a situation of having to spend-down assets for Medicaid eligibility, then pre-paying for funeral costs is important. Otherwise, financial instruments like Totten Trusts can be accessed quickly for funeral expenses yet can prevent problems and give you flexibility for any changes in decisions.
Right now find the planning guide that you’re going to use. You can always change it in the future if you find one that you like better, but it’s better to choose one and get it on its way to you or have yourself officially starting an online guide in preparation for the next step.
Thursday, April 26th – the most important resource to know about