The cremation rate in the United States is predicted to surpass 50% nationally in 2016. Are your clients in those states that choose cremation at a higher rate? How does that impact their estate planning?
According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), as of 2014, the top five states in percentages of cremation are Nevada – 75.98%, Washington – 75.2%, Oregon – 73.9%, Hawaii – 72.6%, and Maine – 71.2%.
The states with the lowest cremation rates are Mississippi – 19.7%, Alabama – 22.9%, Kentucky – 24.6%, Louisiana – 27.6%, and Tennessee – 30.3%. In these states, cremation is starting to rise at a steady rate.
Whether a family chooses cremation or burial, funerals represent a significant expense. The National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) most recent price survey indicates the median price for a funeral with viewing, burial and a vault is $8,508. That does not include the cost of a burial plot, opening/closing the grave, memorial marker, obituary placements, or reception expenses.
The national median cost of a funeral with a viewing and cremation in 2014 was $6,078. Many families seek to save money by utilizing direct cremation, without the healing benefits of holding some kind of memorial service. It’s estimated about 40% of cremation consumers plan to have the ashes scattered.
People perceive the cremation process as simpler and easier than a traditional funeral, but it just isn’t so. There are just as many steps to arranging a cremation and a memorial service. Unfortunately, many cremation families are skipping any kind of farewell ritual, to their detriment.
A “simpler” process doesn’t fill the hole in our hearts and lives when someone we love dies. We still yearn for a ritual to say goodbye to our loved ones who have passed. But with the rise of “nones,” families with no religious affiliation (20% and growing according to the Pew Research Center), many ignore the mourning process and try to go on with their lives.
Grief counselors see this time and again. A family doesn’t hold a funeral, and six months later, family members still have a hard time grieving and healing.
As a trusted advisor, you will be helping these families as they sort out the changes death causes in their financial lives. Wouldn’t you rather work with a family that has taken the steps to grieve the loss? Encourage the families you work with to recognize a death in the family with some kind of memorial service, whatever disposition method they choose.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a death educator Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement and a Certified Funeral Celebrant. Her newest book is Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, a follow-up to her award-winning book A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. She “knocked ‘em dead” at TEDxABQ with her talk on pre-planning for end-of-life issues. She is a regular contributor to the AAEPA blog. Download a free planning form from her website, http://www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
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American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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