Creating a comprehensive and successful estate plan requires you to consider a number of inter-related goals and objectives. Although your primary goal may be to ensure that your estate assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death, you may also want to focus on what will happen to you after your death. While most of us prefer not to spend too much time thinking about our own funeral and burial, doing so now may prevent several unwanted consequences later. The Londonderry trust attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices explain what a funeral trust is and why you might want to include one in your estate plan.
The Practical Realities of Death
Although you may not have ever stopped to think about it, the reality is that death can be very expensive. Experts tell us that an average modest funeral and burial will run over $10,000. If you add in an expensive casket or headstone, a burial plot, and a large service memorializing your death, that cost can top $20,000. Moreover, your loved ones may end up spending even more than is truly necessary if they are forced to make decisions just days after suffering your loss. As you may well imagine, your loved ones will still be grieving your loss and likely not thinking clearly. This may cause them to make poor decisions and may make it easy for salespeople to push them into paying much more than they should for your funeral and burial. Like many people, you may also have strong opinions about the disposition of your body and about the type of service to be held after your death. Given the emotion state your loved ones will be in at the time, the over-priced burial and service you get may not even be what you would have chosen. Along with trying to make the plans for your funeral and burial, your loved ones will also need to gather the funds needed to cover the expenses if you did not plan ahead. Not surprisingly, the stress of all this frequently caused conflicts among survivors. The way to avoid all of this is to include a funeral and burial component in your estate plan.
Planning Is the Key
Do you have strong opinions regarding what happens to you at the end of your life? For example, do you want to be cremated or buried? Do you want a small service or a large one? Should there be music and videos of your life or a somber tribute? Who should speak at the service? Is there a special poem or message you want read? All these questions lead to answers that help define your wishes. Planning is the key to ensuring that those wishes are honored when the time comes.
Simply telling your spouse or adult children what your wishes are, however, is not sufficient for several reasons. First, there is a very good chance that your wishes will be forgotten, or important details overlooked, because your spouse/child won’t be thinking clearly at the time. It is equally possible that your wishes will be intentionally overlooked if your loved ones do not agree with those wishes. Worse still, a full-blown family conflict could arise if loved ones don’t agree on the details of your funeral and burial. Finally, simply telling someone what your wishes are does nothing to provide funding for those wishes to be honored. By creating a funeral and burial plan within your estate plan you can express these wishes and even make them legally binding dictates.
How Can a Funeral Trust Help?
An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is a special type of trust that is funded by the proceeds of a life insurance policy. As the Settlor, you create the trust and appoint a Trustee to administer the trust. You then purchase, or transfer in, a life insurance policy, the proceeds of which pay out immediately into the trust upon your death. Those proceeds then fund your funeral service. Along with providing the funding, however, you can also use the trust terms to ensure that your burial and funeral are carried out according to your wishes. For instance, you can use the terms to specify where you want to be buried or that you want to be cremated. You can be extremely detailed — providing a list of music, dictating the guest list, and choosing the flowers – or keep it general. Your Trustee will be legally obligated to abide by those terms once the trust activates. By including an ILIT in your funeral and burial plan you ensure that your wishes will be honored while simultaneously preventing family conflict by removing the need for loved ones to make decisions and struggle to locate funds.
Contact Londonderry Trust Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating a funeral trust, contact the trust attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
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