Estate planning attorneys see it all the time. Most clients avoid the funeral planning conversation, even though advance planning can reduce stress at a time of grief, save money and head off family conflict.
We have ample evidence that humans have a 100% mortality rate. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” and the universe doesn’t tip its hand to let anyone know when that time will be. How can you help your client families be prepared in this arena?
Consider recommending a few of these tips to help start the conversation.
- Shop Before You Drop: If your car died, wouldn’t you think about what you wanted, do some research and shop around before you bought a new one? Apply that sensibility to funerals before someone dies. Knowing the costs and what is involved saves money and reduces stress when a death in the family actually occurs.
- Watch a Funny Film: Laughter can help circumvent discomfort with death. Laugh and learn by screening comedy movies like Undertaking Betty, Elizabethtown, or The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. Comedy can lead to conversation after the film ends. Here’s a list of funny film recommendations.
- Watch a Serious Video: The 30-minute DVD Making Sense of Final Arrangements and Burial Costs shows how to make those phone calls to funeral homes without embarrassment. This DVD project by Kristen Lord, a funeral director intern and hospice volunteer, illustrates the simple steps it takes to make smart funeral planning choices and become an informed consumer of funeral and burial costs. .
- Lead by Example: If parents or a partner avoid the funeral planning topic, make your own plans and invite the other person(s) to come along for the ride. It’s a fascinating shopping trip. Anyone up for a trip to the cemetery to browse for burial plots?
- Play The Newly-Dead Game™: Based on the premise of the classic TV show “The Newlywed Game,” this card-based game tests how well you know someone else’s last wishes. You can use it to start the conversation with life partners, parents, or anyone else for whom you might be called upon to plan a funeral. Learn more about The Newly-Dead Game.
Encourage clients to take some time to think about how they would like to be remembered and celebrated. The family’s experience of a funeral or memorial service is so much better when a loved one expresses their desires and values before dying. It’s an important aspect of legacy planning.
Certified Celebrant Gail Rubin brings light to a dark subject and helps get funeral planning conversations started. Her award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, won Best of Show in the 2011 New Mexico Book Awards. The book is available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and at AGoodGoodbye.com. Contact her at 505-265-7215 or email Gail@AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555