Recent research indicates Baby Boomer women are arranging 76% of funerals. Are your female clients ready to tackle the tasks associated with making funeral plans and handling estate follow-up tasks after a death?
At the recent International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) convention, Brad Rex, President and CEO of Foundation Partners Group (FPG), outlined a bold new vision for the funerals of the future. The Orlando-based organization currently owns 39 funeral homes and six cemetery properties in 13 states.
Rex spent 12 years with Disney Parks and Resorts, ran the Epcot theme park for five years and was EVP and Chief Customer Officer for Hilton Grand Vacations. From his experience pleasing Disney Guests, with a capital “G,” FPG is serving funeral Families, with a capital “F,” the funerals of the future.
In their research, FPG found that 70% of Baby Boomers said they want to attend something different from the staid, somber funerals of their parents’ generation. Yet almost all funeral homes offer the “traditional” funeral experience.
Funeral directors, who are notoriously slow to change their business model, decry the growing flight toward direct cremation. In some markets, 60 to 70% of families are choosing direct cremation, avoiding traditional funerals, and striking out on their own to create a memorial service. These families do not perceive any value in the services or ideas many funeral homes offer.
Change is necessary for funeral directors to remain relevant. FPG is offering a new vision for funerals. ShareLife® services help their Families more easily navigate the grief journey, with a range of other supportive services before and after a funeral.
According to Rex, the funeral of the future will be an experiential extravaganza of sights, sounds and smells that evoke emotions and beautiful memories. Trained celebrants will help Families create multi-sensory remembrance events that celebrate the life rather than mourn the death.
FPG funeral homes are incorporating enormous video screens for life-sized videos and photos, surround-sound audio, and computer-programmed scent generators that can fill the chapel with smells of Mom’s home-baked cookies or fresh-cut grass on Dad’s favorite golf course.
The funeral home provides online collaboration through computers and the Internet to help a widely scattered family gather information and plan memorial service details. They can meet in the family’s home, a coffee shop, or wherever the family wants to gather. Planning doesn’t have to take place at the funeral home.
There’s no dreaded casket room to visit. Families can mix and match options on a big screen TV in the funeral home’s comfortable family room setting. With the click of a mouse, they can change casket styles, materials, colors, fabrics and finishes. Or they can view a wide range of urn options if cremation is the disposition choice.
FPG recognizes the importance of helping the bereaved spouse adjust to his or her new life situation. They offer numerous after care programs, including an online service called Estate Assist. With a few key pieces of information, it can find and close down credit cards and other accounts – some of which the spouse might not even know about.
While FPG’s Estate Assist offering can be a great blessing to a grieving spouse, might this threaten estate planning attorneys’ client relationships? Is it competition for your practice? FPG started Estate Assist this past year, so it’s still in its infancy.
As other funeral homes provide after care programs that include guidance on estate, financial and life skill adjustments, it’s a trend to watch. You might consider proactive contacts with your clients as end-of-life situations arise.
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, brings a light touch to serious subjects as a speaker who uses humor and funny films to attract people to discuss mortality, end-of-life, estate and funeral planning issues. She is Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement, author of the award-winning book and host of the TV and radio shows A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. She is a regular contributor to the AAEPA blog. Download a free planning form from her website, http://www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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