As an Advance Planning Specialist, I’ve been helping families with Advance Planning for the past 17 years. I have worked with large family owned funeral homes, small family owned funeral homes and corporately owned funeral homes and cemeteries.
Fifteen years ago I was asked to sit in on an at-need arrangement conference. A woman in her late 70’s had passed away. Her three daughters attended the meeting to make their mother’s funeral arrangements. The oldest daughter was sobbing. The middle daughter was silent. The youngest was agitated and having trouble sitting still.
There was a $10,000 insurance policy. In the year 2000, at that funeral home, it was nearly enough for the funeral the mother had requested. Her selections of merchandise and services were on file at the funeral home. She wanted a day of visitation and the funeral the next day.
As the funeral director started adding things up, the oldest daughter, still sobbing, said: “If it is more than $10,000, I will pay the difference.”
The middle daughter said: “We are all three the beneficiaries. We can split what ever money is left over.” Her suggestion, in essence, was to downgrade the services and/or the merchandise her mother had selected.
The youngest daughter was silent, but nodding in agreement with her middle sister.
As the funeral director started to write the obituary, the youngest daughter stated that she did not want her name in the paper. She mumbled something about thieves breaking into her home during the funeral.
So we had a daughter that would use her own funds to give the mother what she had requested, one daughter that was hoping for a payout for herself, and a daughter that didn’t even want to be named in the obituary. What a fascinating thing for me to observe when I was still pretty new in the death care business.
I have witnessed quite a bit of bad behavior over the years. Fights during the arrangement conference, police being called during visitation, and fist fights in the funeral home parking lot.
The point I am making is that death and the monies associated with it can bring out the worst in people. Long held grudges over favoritism as children can blow up when a parent passes away. In blended families the relationships and the finances can be even more complicated, resulting in resentments and hurt feelings.
Of course, death can bring out the best in people as well. I’ve seen many surviving family members rise to the occasion and do what they believe is right.
Although there isn’t a way to ensure that no one misbehaves when you pass away, you can take steps to lessen the mess you leave behind for your family. Along with a Will, Living Will, and a Power of Attorney, please consider preplanning your funeral. Prepay if you can.
Feel free to call me at (260) 456-0890 with questions regarding funeral planning. I am here to help.
Please visit our website at www.northernindianafuneralcare.com. Take a look around, notice our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the endorsements from the American Legion Department of Indiana and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.