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Don’t shirk planning your own funeral
Glenn Mollette
Glenn Mollette

A good friend died recently. At the age of 80 all his life insurance had expired and his savings was spent. His family, financially, were living from week to week. His failing health along with COVID-19 put him in an intensive care unit for days apart from his family where he died. His hospitalization brought more bills and financial hardship for those left behind. Needless to say, there wasn’t any money to pay for a casket, embalming, plot of ground and a grave marker.

His young adult son put together their dire scenario and sent it out to everyone his family knew. Within a week 103 friends had given $20,300 to momentarily rescue this family from their perilous situation. It was enough money to buy a casket, embalming, a plot of ground and a small grave memorial marker. 

Do you have 103 friends who would give $20 to $2,000 each to pay for your burial expenses? I know I do not. Such an outpouring was a testimony to his life and the lives of so many he had touched. This story is a sad reminder that we must take prudent steps toward covering our burial/funeral costs.

I don’t want my wife or children to have to figure it out after I’m dead. Often, we don’t get a choice. We die way before we have time to make our final arrangements. This happens a lot. This is why we need to do it now or as soon as we can. 

Another dear friend recently died very young. Her family was strapped for cash and went the rout of cremation. Cremation costs are also rising. My Navy son said, “Dad, just cremate me and scatter my remains over the north Atlantic.” I pray he lives to be 100 and his grandchildren have to do that. 

Some of you know my wife died back in 2002. Her funeral cost me about $10,000 and her grave plot was $600. I was cash strapped at the age of 47. I had nothing but medical bills and a house payment. I wasn’t prepared for a funeral, mentally or financially. The only thing that saved me was a year before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a good friend sold us small life insurance policies. He also talked us into paying extra for a disability wavier on the policy. The disability wavier was the only way I was able to maintain that life insurance policy which we used 13 years after he sold it to us. It was the only way I could have paid for that funeral, unless I could have borrowed more money on my house. This was doubtful because I already had a second mortgage on the house from trying to pay other medical bills. I would have been hurting and probably would have had to go the cheapest route available for her funeral. It was simply the grace of God and a wise insurance agent who saved us in that respect.

My mother and father in law both died recently and their funeral expenses alone were over $14,000 each. Fortunately, they had saved enough money to cover these costs. You can spend less and you can spend more of course. The question is do you want your family to have to figure it out? Sit down with a trusted funeral director and begin making preparations now.

Decide which route you want to go. Decide how much you want to spend. You can plan everything. Pick out everything. Most likely pay for everything. Just make sure you are dealing with a very trusted funeral director. Write out everything you want done including music, speakers and anything specific you want them to say. It’s up to you of course. Make several copies of your wishes and what you have done. It’s amazing how people lose stuff. 

When we are dead, we won’t care. We won’t know, but we care now. I know most of us care about those we leave behind. This is one way we can help them to know how and what we want done and relieve their burden by making the arrangements ourselves. 

Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books including Uncommon Sense. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.