Respecting the wishes of the dead

graywings123February 26, 2014

I guess really the title should be NOT respecting the wishes of the dead. Has anyone been in a situation where you made a decision not to honor the deceased person's wish for funeral arrangements or anything else? Before my brother died, he wanted to be cremated, he had no religious affiliation or beliefs, and apparently did not want a public service. But my sister-in-law had a lovely, well-attended service in her church and, while he was cremated, had a viewing of his body by his immediate family (wife, children, and possibly a close friend.) She needed/wanted these things, and in my opinion, whatever gave her peace was best.

I have been encouraging a friend to think about how he will handle, when the time comes, the funeral arrangements of his mother, who is in her late 80s. At one time she wanted to be cremated, but lately has changed her mind to wanting to be buried. She is not opposed to the idea of cremation; she had her dogs cremated. She is at a mental state of mind that you can no longer have a real conversation with her. She will say, "This is what I want," but she can't or won't explain why - about anything. Carrying out her current wishes would be at my friend's expense because of her financial situation; she has no money, no insurance, and a lot of credit card debt. She has long said she does not want any kind of service or or to have a viewing. Her friends have all died and her family is very small.

I find the idea of traditional burial monetarily and (corrected to say) environmentally wasteful, and downright ghoulish when you think about it, and the idea that someone will be buried with no one to come to the grave later and mourn is so terribly sad. I have been encouraging the idea to my friend that he has options for how to proceed. But when I read articles about death, I never find anything about this aspect; everything seems written with the concept of carrying out the deceased person's wishes.

This post was edited by graywings on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 12:20

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This is a great topic.

I had to struggle with just this situation. My mom had always said she didn't want any viewing after she died.

Unfortunately she passed away when her favorite, beloved sister was out of town. That sister (my aunt) was devastated. She felt she never got to say goodbye, and she was really distraught about it.

So I thought about my mom's strong wish not to have a viewing, but tempered that with knowing how much she loved her sister - and decided she likely would have been ok with it knowing the circumstances.

I had originally just thought of letting my aunt have a very private viewing. But my aunt was distraught, not thinking clearly (or didn't understand what I had told her), and she then started mentioning the "private" viewing to several other relatives. So it quickly became clear I was going to have several upset relatives on my hands if I tried to restrict it to just my aunt....

We did a small, private, family viewing.

In the end, I'm ok with what I did. Death is such a hard situation to handle. I had to balance what felt like competing demands, and in the end I walked the best line that I could.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:50AM
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The specifics here matter to me, though I am not sure it's rational.

Having a viewing or service when one was not requested is one thing. Cremating remains of a person who claims she does not want to be cremated would really give me pause. I don't think i would do that.

Are there any written instruction that predate her current statements? Do third parties agree that she is not lucid?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:15AM
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Interesting topic. I never considered what others would want. I always thought they would be OK with what I would want.
I agree with Mtn. There should be a pllce to draw the line.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:29AM
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I don't know if the women's situation (credit card debt) is due to life situations or a Prada purse.
It is also hard to know if her wishes now are only due to mental decline.Visions of those who pasted before her.
My mother was cremated so that her remains could be buried on top of my dad who was casket-ed.
Is her husband graved somewhere ?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Tricky topic. I guess it will come down to what your friend believes and how much he is willing to invest in that belief. Personally, I probably would be more concerned about making the situation work for those still living than in honoring the wishes of the deceased.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Such a timely topic, as my siblings and I are having that conversation right now with and without our parents. Both are still alive, very alert mentally but failing, physically, very rapidly. Now living with my sister in Atlanta, I keep stressing how important it is to know exactly what their wishes are, and if those wishes can be reasonably carried out when they pass.
Regarding the subject of a viewing or not, I think it is absolutely one wish your family should always respect. But, if a parent is not able to make these decisions because of age-related mental impairment - or severe lack of funds - I think it is acceptable for the children to choose what they feel is best.

Because of dealing with this now with my parents , I've come to realize how strongly I feel about my own wishes when I pass, and have recently discussed them with my DH and children. I want them all to know NOW what I want and don't want. I think we all need to do that before, as with Graywings friend.

Although I consider myself a very religious person, I do not want a religious service in a church or funeral home. I absolutely do not want a viewing under any circumstances. I want to be cremated with my ashes spread in two specific places that are very important to me. And I want a big, happy celebration of my life, instead. A party, with lots of good music, good hearty food, lots of wine, pictures of me and my family throughout my life and no black mourning clothes. And no funeral flowers, heaven forbid! Just simple good works done in my memory if one so desires. Thank goodness I told them, as they told me that they would have had a church service or (shudder) one in a funeral home if I hadn't!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:37PM
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I agree that it is tricky. I've told my loved ones to do what would comfort them the most, with as little hassle as possible. After all, I'll be gone. But I'll take this opportunity to plug non-profit organizations that provide low cost arrangements. The one in WA where I live is called People's Memorial and has been in business since 1939. There is a nominal charge for joining and you can join for someone else (if your friend can find a similar organization in his mother's state). I won't go into the details of how it works but have linked to their website if you want info. I joined for my mother before she died, and when my husband died in OR, the organization there let me join posthumously for him. It saved me the worry and hassle of trying to make arrangements out of state. These are not pre-paid plans; they are cooperatives designed to take the profit out of dying and the exploitation of consumers at a very vulnerable time.

Here, also is a link to a state by state directory of Funeral Consumer's Alliance. Funeral Consumer's Alliance

Here is a link that might be useful: People's Memorial Funeral Co-op

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:00PM
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It is always an uncomfortable situations, but when it comes down to it, the funeral and disposition of remains has more to do with the survivors than the deceased, I believe.
So, the previous posters who ignored the deceased's wishes in order to meet the emotional needs of survivors were quite right.

One person expresses distaste for mourning clothes and traditional services, but that tradition serves a purpose for the ones feeling the grief. Sure, not for everybody, but for many, this public acknowledgement of grief and loss is an important part of dealing with it.

Those funeral parades in New Orleans have it right -- they combine the two -- mourning and celebration.

One thing that most mortuaries won't tell you is that there is no need or requirement for embalming. Also, in my state, you can buy your casket anywhere and your funeral home must use it.

I ran into the issue of funeral expenses; none of my 4 siblings stepped up to offer to help pay, Mom had no money left (had been on Medicaid) and my resources were tight. Plus, I had to arrange everything from out of town. I was lucky that we had a family plot and a funeral home that we all liked (yes, even though they weren't coming through financially, I tried to involve my siblings in the planning. It just seemed the right thing to do.)

I searched online and found the Main Street Casket store in Cinciinnati. They had a beautiful casket for 1/3 the cost of our funeral home, and because that home had a price match offer, they dropped the overall prices for the services to compete with what Eric from Main Street quoted. If you are in their area, I can't recommend them enough.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:36PM
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I agree with following someone's wishes if at all possible. I STRONGLY agree with Lynn about making your wishes known. Discuss this now with your family. My grandparents both did the pre-paid funeral and had written out what they wanted, even songs they wanted. My FIL also wrote out his wishes for his service. My husband and I have made our wishes known.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I never understood about funerals and the attendant gatherings ("why are we having a PARTY?") until I was told that those things were for the living--for the friends and loved ones to gather, remember, and honor the deceased.

So, while I think it's important to honor the deceased's wishes whenever practical, it's MORE important for the survivors to have an appropriate expression and memorial for the deceased.

If the person wants elaborate arrangements, but fails to provide financially for them, well, nobody should go into unreasonable debt for that.

I think that compromises could be made when keeping in mind the tone and theme of the deceased's wishes; for instance, if the person thinks they want a solemn, religious memorial, then something along those lines, even if very pared down due to finances, can be arranged. On the other hand, if they want a full New Orleans jazz band and a party -- the survivors should do something along those lines within their means. Does this make sense?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:03PM
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My parents were recently advised to choose ONE person to give the responsibility and power to make all decisions for them. Other wise you often have these family disagreements. I have never come across a discussion that debates the deceased wishes being met. It has always seemed assumed and absolute that the deceased wishes would be granted. In the case of the woman who has no money...well with the cost of these things, NEVER would I feel financially responsible for anyone other than family. I agree the cost is beyond unreasonable. It is wonderful to hear of options. Frankly when I die the cheapest way to get it done and over is fine with me and I would be hard pressed to spend one cent more than I had to for anyone else either. A cement vault is required for burials. I am hearing more and more about this dual burial and as far as I am concerned you can throw my ashes in with anyone else. BTW It is my understanding it is illegal to spread ashes just anywhere you want.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:35PM
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My parents made their wishes known before they died...and we all had a good laugh when Dad, who was always pretty thrifty having been raised during the Depression, said he wanted us to use Affordable Cremations. And so we did, for both of them. They died 18 mos apart and we spent roughly $500-600 a piece for the cremation and ashes. Neither wanted a service. Dad died first and wanted his ashes spread in a specific place. We brought a boombox to the place and played some of his favorite songs while we told stories about him..laughed, cried and threw his ashes to the wind. We then went back to the house and had a small gathering with some neighbors and other friends. Mom decided she wanted the same. We did the same thing..took the boombox, etc.. and scattered her in the same place as dad. My best friend, who thought of my mom as a second mom, did take some of her ashes and scattered them in the ocean where we grew up.

I think you should try to honor the wishes of the deceased if possible. I don't think anyone should go into debt paying for a funeral.....elaborate or otherwise. Seems like such a waste of money and I doubt the deceased would want to burden loved ones that way.

It's really a personal thing. I do not like viewings at all. A coworker died last summer and I think I was the only one who did not go up and look at her. I prefer to remember her as she was--alive and kicking-- not laying in a casket.

I want to be cremated. Not sure where I want the ashes scattered yet, but not anywhere where family would have to travel or spend money to get to. A low-key celebration with laughter and my favorite tunes would be just the ticket. DH has played tennis for 40 years and we kid him that we will scatter his ashes over a tennis court. His response.."what do I care what you do, I won't be here!"

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:53PM
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My dh and I will both be cremated and since we are Catholic we have to be buried. We have 1 plot and have our monument. We will have a funeral mass...for our children's benefit. Everything will be pre-paid.

As far as your friend goes...if his mother does not want to be cremated, I would not encourage it. It's terrible that funeral costs are so high and are often left for family members that do not have the resources. But, I still would not go against her wishes.

My mother is 87. She has planned and paid for her funeral. Everything is done...right down to the songs and the music. She did all this before she started failing. Bless her.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

This is tricky and it is best to discuss if possible before the person dies. But it's not an easy discussion to have.

Mom was ok with being cremated, but she wanted me to spread her ashes at a national historic landmark some 1500 miles from here. Before she died, I asked her if I could get out of that part and she said no. So Mom is in a box in our attic. Someone suggested I could sneak some of her ashes into a garden at the place so at least part of her would get there, but frankly, I don't want to go through her ashes at all. So until I figure out what I'm going to do, she's "on hold" in the attic.

Dad was so much easier...he wanted to be buried at sea so I sent his ashes off to the Navy (he was in the Navy in WWII) and they took care of it for me for free....sent me a map of where they put him, a flag, and a video of the nice ceremony they had.

The economist in me says the person in question should have his wishes fulfilled if he is paying for it. If the deceased is not paying for it, then the party who is has the final say. If you're broke, you can request a solid gold casket, but odds are you aren't going to get it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:40PM
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I think as a friend of the son you may want to watch just how much editorial spin you put on the suggestions of what to do. Death is not an easy topic to discuss but grief is even more puzzling. He is the only person who knows if he will be racked by guilt or grief over not memorializing his mother in the manner she last dictated. No matter how tumultuous the relationship it could happen. Some people need the viewings and the burial to grieve. While his mother may have few friends left, his friends may show up in support. He may need that. Then again he may not, but as his friend this is an area you may want to tread lightly on and not push a fiscally responsible agenda.

Facing my own mortality now, we have reviewed all the arrangements. We discussed what I envisioned what my husband envisioned and what my mother anticipated. They were quite different (husband didn't anticipate I would want buried, mom wanted a full catholic service etc. I just wanted our traditional wake with crazy stories and jokes flying after the sadness passes) Id like to believe if I die my mom won't emotionally bully my grieving husband into going ahead with a catholic service against my wishes. (I know my mom she wouldn't, but she did ask that we have a kneeler and crucifix present for those in our family who will want to pray). And I came to understand like other have mentioned if I'm dead it no longer matters what I want. Funerals or celebration of life or sitting shiva or wakes are for the living. Rituals help the loved ones heal.

Sure it's probably fine to disregard the mothers wishes. But, I think the only people who should have any influence in the matter are the immediate family as they are the only ones who can anticipate their own grief and what rituals they may need to mourn and heal or what level of guilt they will suffer if te disobey explicit wishes. Tread lightly.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Thanks for the responses. To answer your questions about the elderly woman (she's my ex-MIL), there are written instruction to cremate her that predate her current statements. Her financial situation is due entirely to overspending for entertainment. I believe that was the first sign of her cognitive decline.

It's hard to know what changed her mind from cremation. She is simultaneously stubborn and impressionable. If she hears something from the ladies at the hairdresser's, it is as if from God's lips and no amount of reasoning with her with change her opinion.

We made an emergency appointment over Christmas at her cataract surgeon's office after she described certain very specific symptoms. She somehow came to believe that she needed cataract surgery again. She was certain of it. Tests showed that she was perfectly fine, and we believe she made up the symptoms after hearing them from someone at the hairdresser's. The symptoms all magically went away.

There is no husband to be buried next to.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:29PM
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I've told my loved ones to do what would comfort them the most, with as little hassle as possible

I agree with this. When my FIL died a few years ago, my MIL had absolutely NO service, because that is what my FIL wanted. My kids wanted to attend some sort of service, for comfort and closure to get through their mourning. The service is NOT for the dead, but for the loved ones remaining.

As far as a viewing though, I think that is a request that I would honor.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:36PM
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I am reading this thread with great interest in all of the opinions. In reflecting on my own mortality in the last year or so, I have exactly what I want to happen in my head. I haven't had the guts to say it (or write it) all out to my DH yet. I know he would agree with my wishes but I know the rest of the family would be so angry with me and my wants. I'm surprised to read that the grieving people deserve more than the deceased because they have to cope with the loss. It would actually stress me out if I knew the end was coming and I had to do things someone else's way. And I know certain very close family members that would strong arm my DH to go against my wishes. I'm not even sure how I would guarantee my way would happen now. And I guess it wouldn't matter as I'd never know but...something to think about.

This post was edited by emeraldisle624 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 18:00

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the OP was asking a pretty narrow question.

Would you cremate someone who asked to be buried?

I wasn't sure if "being buried" meant any more than that.

This is why I think the specifics matter in this question. So many of the other aspects seems less imporant ( to me).

BTW, Lynne, I love your idea of a funeral. (funny that sentence looks odd). I've never given this any thought, but I totally agree with your idea.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Very simply: no. Cremation is too personal.

The only complicating matter is you are unsure if she would still want a burial if her faculties weren't declining. However she still has some lucidity so i find it hard to discount this decision 100%.

If money is a factor then I would opt for a "green burial" no embalming & no vaults if allowed by your state. a simple pine box or body wrapped and bundled in cloth will work.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:34PM
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I would have them cremated if that's what they want. As for me, I mentioned to my kids that they can do whatever they want when our time comes. Let's face it, we won't be there lol.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:01PM
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I don't see any difficulty in talking about, or writing down, what you want while you are still alive. Bought a gravesite 20 years ago, and the headstone is already engraved (minus one date of course). Besides burial matters, include your financial decisions. So what if you piss somebody off? You're in charge of YOUR life.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:26PM
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My close family members who have died (both parents and a grandmother) have arranged and paid for their own funerals. That is the best. We didn't try to change their arrangements. I wouldn't unless there was a financial reason to do so.

I was going to mention the green burial option that NB42 brought up. I attended one last fall and it was quite nice. I hadn't thought about the toxic air pollution that cremation produces until I did a little research about green burials. Something to think about. At least for me.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Without reading others comments to confuse me, as I'm very tired and will forget what I want to say, here's my feelings. . .

Though a funeral is because of a death of someone, it's purpose is for the living to honor and remember the one that died. I don't believe the dead, before they died ofcourse, needs to have complete say in how those left behind should carry out honoring them. They should be allowed to voice their opinion, but once they are gone, I strongly believe it's up to those left behind unless the one that's passed choices had to do with their religious beliefs.

My Mom, who died suddenly, never wanted to be viewed dead. Her sisters "needed" to see her, so my Dad went ahead with a viewing. Daddy only said he, like Mom, wanted to be cremated. We didn't have a viewing as he was the last of his siblings and all my cousin's on his side were older and couldn't travel here so we had two memorials. One here and one back in our home town.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 8:58PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The other consideration with elderly parents is that they may lose judgment and we as children may have to take over the decision making process as they may no longer be able to make the best choices for themselves. As such, we need to do what we know is best, even if they insist they are still able to drive or live on their own, or keep track of their finances, etc. Funeral arrangements can easily fall in that category. Unless the person had strong religious convictions with specific rules on proper burial, which you most likely would prefer to honor, I think that some flexibility would be ok.

My dads mom always wanted to be buried with safety pins so at the second coming she'd be able to pin the back of her dress and not be embarrassed. I don't think anyone put them in the casket though....

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:26PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

The way I see it, as long as the dead pays for everything ahead of time, then it's whatever they arranged.
Otherwise, it's at the discretion of the person paying for it.

I would never acquire any debt for a funeral (nor a marriage) but that's me.

My mother always said, "When i die, throw me in the backyard." She wanted no ceremony or money spent on her.
I did not do that, her estate was fine and I had a small ceremony, gorgeous flower casket topper ( can't recall what those are called, hers had iris and moss, no round flowers), viewing, 2 ministers, ceremony at the grave too. Headstone and lined grave. It wasn't what she would have wanted but for the family, it was just right, given her untimely and youngish death at 64 at the end of a grotesque disease (progressive supranuclear palsy).

My 89 year old mil has had her dress, underwear, hymns to be sung, and pallbearers picked out for the last 20 years. She has updated the underwear several times. We all laugh because she most likely won't be wearing underwear in the casket.
Which also is picked out and paid for. She will be buried next to her husband and everything is already paid up.
So, she will probably get what she wants.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:40PM
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Is a burial more costly then cremation? I actually have no idea.

If it is, I think Bumble makes a very good point.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:02AM
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In my recent experience with funerals, cremation (my brother's) was about one-tenth the cost of a burial (my father's).
Same funeral home for both.

I agree with lynn's ideas about funerals, too!

The funeral homes around here don't "finance" funerals anymore.
(They used to allow people to make payments until the total was paid.)
If someone doesn't have the cash to pay at the time of the funeral, they have to go to a bank, or credit union, or rich uncle, or whatever.
This is when many opt for cremation.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:55AM
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Well~ I guess your concerns can be resolved with the next hair appointment !
Anyway~When all is said and done~It's your ex that needs to feel
that what ever choice he makes ~He will have no doubts . No guilt.
No regrets.

I pray his mother can maybe someday give him that reassurance.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:00AM
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Yes, burials are way more expensive than cremation...the casket alone can run thousands of dollars, then the funeral home costs, plot, headstones, etc...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

As an aside, hopefully no one will have to worry about my body as I've donated it to Yale Med school...the green in me...why let a good body that I can't use any more go to waste? Recycle! But of course, it's most disheartening to know I might get rejected from Yale Med school, even as a cadaver....

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:39AM
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LOL Annie. Practical and a sense of humor. I like that.

I will be leaving shortly to pick up my dad and take him to place my mom's ashes at the veteran's cemetery where he will one day join her. My dad has made his wishes known for a long time. While my mom was less clear, it seems only fitting that they should have their remains placed together for eternity.

Graywings, as to the original question, my mom had Alzheimer's and, while he would never admit it and doesn't understand it, my dad has a form of dementia caused by low oxygen levels. She wasn't able to express herself well for years and while Dad can carry on full conversations, if his oxygen is low, he cannot process information, reason or make decisions. If they started telling me something different, I would question it too. I guess I would look to see if I could find anything that explains a change for my own peace of mind, but if she is having dementia, her memory may be regressing. That is a pattern with Alzheimer's -- recent memories are lost first and the person regresses mentally. Her cognitive state may be in her childhood -- at a time before she knew about cremation. It is also possible that the decline in her communicative skills is grouping all final arrangements into one. She may not realize she seems to be expressing something different.

You may never know what exactly is going on -- sounds like you probably won't. I'd look at the situation as a whole. If either of my suggestions seems to fit, I'd stick with her original plans. If that's the case, I'd make the decision and not look back. In your case, the finances definitely favor that route too. If she spent everything and racked up debt on her entertainment while living rather than making pre-arrangements, there is also an argument that she made her choices.

Cremation is far less expensive. My dad recently told me that everything for my mom's cremation, memorial service, announcements in two papers (talk about expensive!), donation to the church and flowers (one simple white arrangement that went on the altar in the middle of the holiday greenery and poinsettias that were already in place) and the wood urn for her ashes was about $3000. Nothing felt budget about it all. A simple casket would have been more. Actually, some folks have obituaries published that would cost more.

Whatever choice the family makes, I think it is one of those situations where taking time to consider the options and situation and them making the right choice for the right reason is a wise investment of time and effort. By thinking about it now, you are making that possible. I wish everyone peace with all the decisions that will have to be made. They were pretty easy for my mom -- wish you the same.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:35AM
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I've read everyone's comments and won't repeat, but I do agree about not going into debt. I wanted to add if you go for cremation be sure to shop around. I called several local funeral homes about cremation (ahead of time) for DH's mother. He was going out of town, her health was declining, and he wanted some sort of plan in place just in case. Most funeral homes in our area do not have cremation facilities, so you're paying the middle man extremely well for them to provide you the service. I located an on-site cremation funeral home (wasn't the closest, but that doesn't matter). DH had a meeting with them, and being family owned, they were very carrying. The cremation price was 1/10th of the funeral home. No casket was required, but they do put them in a box (she said the cardboard caskets are not suitable and sometimes don't hold up - depending on the weight of the person). It might have been less expensive, but I think they cared more for the deceased person's dignity than the others I spoke with. The nursing home was given the information to call family, then the selected cremation/funeral company, so the family wouldn't have to make another phone call. We will most definitely be using them again.

His mother did not have a service, but her ashes were taken to her home/birth place and scattered (some of them). DH took some to Key West to scatter. He said she had led such a horrible life, she deserved blue skies and sunshine. The rest are on his side of the closet and need to be taken to her home/birth place.

For DH and myself, we are not into funerals and don't plan on having one. My mother is extremely ill and I know she wants to be cremated. I'm sure Dad will have a small memorial service, but they haven't attended church in 30 years so it won't have a religious tone. I'm not sure what she wants done with her ashes, but Dad has told us where he wants his scattered. I'm thinking differently for his, but we will see when the time comes.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:35AM
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That is a sad thought -- being a reject even in death!

As for whether or not to cremate, I say to follow the deceased's wishes unless you can't afford it. It's not fair for someone to order the expense of a burial and not provide the funds to do it. You don't expect someone else to pick up the tab for your fancy party in life, so why do you get to do it in death? If the budget affords only a cremation, then so be it. Better to have spent your money on living rather than dying anyway.

I have a Death File in my filing cabinet. It includes my wishes for my funeral (cremation, ashes scattered, non-religious memorial service). However, if I live very long and have few friends left, my sons are certainly welcome to skip the memorial service.

The File also includes all my passwords, a list of my investments, my lawyer's name, my financial advisor's name, my will, where to send memorial contributions and more. I think I will add some photos to be used at the memorial service, and some highlights (lowlights??) of my life for an obituary. I am doing these things to help my sons who will really stink at organizing this!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:40AM
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I think the point here is knowing what the final wishes really are on the one hand and then the person not having the means or the arrangements to provide for either and knowing that one would be far more costly than the other.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Dedtired, I am so impressed and inspired by your forethought and planning! I'm going to start a file like that and make sure that DH does, as well. Great idea!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:36AM
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I've always told my DH and lately my kids that I wish to be cremated. (Burial kind of creeps me out.)

If I start saying something different later on, I hope they'll ignore it and remember what I said for many years while they KNEW I was in my right mind.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:45AM
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I would encourage those of you "holding" loved ones' ashes to do something with them asap. If you don't, someone else will be stuck making the arrangements for them when something unexpected might happen to you.

I'm an only child and my son didn't know my mother. I'd been holding her ashes after she died because she had no wishes about what was done and she wasn't a "place" person, so I could never decide, but realized it was really unfair to leave the deed undone and foist it on someone else if I died.

She did love playing Bingo, so some of my friends and I talked about a bingo parlor memorial tour and leaving a few of her ashes at each place...but I never was really serious about it. My dad died when I was a child, so I thought about adding her ashes to his grave, but the cemetery was not very helpful or cooperative and I realized that I don't think my mom liked my dad very much, so that wasn't a good option. The price of a new plot was outrageous. But a really helpful agent at another cemetery suggested that they have 1/4 plots...spaces where the squared off plots leave little sections that aren't really sellable for graves. I was able to get one near her parents' and siblings' graves for a very reasonable amount and used the People's Memorial (see my post above) to purchase a nice urn. It is such a load off my mind that this was all completed before I die.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:21AM
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"But of course, it's most disheartening to know I might get rejected from Yale Med school, even as a cadaver...." ~Annie
Thanks for the good laugh! Just remember, you won't ever know one way or the other. I plan on donating my body, or even just parts if that's all they want, too.

dedtired I copy and pasted the last part of your message and am going to make one of your files and tell my family. It's a wonderful idea. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Olychick, makes a good point about either taking care of ashes of those we love before we too die, or at the very least let it be known in your will what is to be done with them.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:26PM
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"The way I see it, as long as the dead pays for everything ahead of time, then it's whatever they arranged.
Otherwise, it's at the discretion of the person paying for it." I pretty much agree with that and would certainly not go into debt for a funeral. BUT, if the deceased had made their wishes known, I would try as much as possible to get at least close to what they wanted.

I say that I do not care what happens because I will not be here (when my time comes), but for some reason, I really do not want to be cremated. It just bothers me. Also, I am the same as someone else mentioned above - I do not like to view the body. I do not want to remember the person that way. Even with my mother, I did not view the body. I was present at her time of death, I did not need to view again.
My mother had a service at their church, which she had gone to all her life. The funeral home assisted, but minimally. She sang in the church choir in earlier years so it was fitting that the choir sang at her service. The songs and the singers were so fitting for my mom. It was not a party, as Lynn would like, but it was not a time of gloom and doom either. Both my sister and brother spoke (I could not do this), and a past minister who was a very close family friend did her graveside service. It was a time of sharing memories of my mother, a time to honor her.

I, personally, do not like the "receiving of friends". I think it is so hard on the family. Several years ago, my brother's fiance died at a young age. Her mother had died a short time earlier and the family decided on a simple graveside ceremony. It was a very nice service. Simple and short. It has stood out in my mind through the years and that is something along the lines of what I want. We also have plots.

I don't know if funeral homes here have payment plans, but I know that many will wait until life insurance payments have come through.

Along with me not wanting to be cremated, I do not want the ashes of any of my loved ones. I do not want the ashes somewhere in my home. Again, not sure why, it's just not something I want to do. We do have a cremation facility near here, but burials are still much more prevalent in this area.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:55PM
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It has been so interesting to read the different opinions and experiences.

I guess I've been very lucky with my limited experience with death. My Mum has preplanned and prepaid for what she wants. She's a very practical, sensible person. Thank goodness.

We more or less knew what my Dad wanted and it all went very smoothly and easily. He was a retired Naval officer whose last two assignments were the Base Commander of Naval Reserve Bases. He had always joked that he wanted to be buried at sea to give the Reservists something to do. We briefly considered a sea burial but none of us could imagine polluting the Gulf of Mexico with ashes or his urn so his cremains are buried in a veterans cementary. The funeral director told us many people plan to dispose of ashes someplace special but end up with them sitting in a box in a closet instead.

I tease my husband about what he's to do for me but the reality is most of the traditions are for the living. He should feel free to do, or not do, anything that he feels is necessary and right.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:27PM
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Mum just died at the end of this January at age 93 -- she was cremated and her ashes will be interred into the "Wall" at the Old local cemetery (where many of their friends are buried and interred) with my late dad's ashes.

The Walls are basically long, low thick granite walls filled with squares where one or two people's ashes can be interred. A plaque goes on the outside. Worked so well for our family! :) And very popular too -- since my dad passed away -- the cemetery has built many more Walls! Perhaps a sign of the future way of death?

As for the original question -- I do think that finances and common sense must be taken into consideration. Just another part of life .... and death.

P.S. We were REALLY shocked at the cost of putting notices into local papers! Wow! ((yes -- we even joked that my good Scots Mum would be shocked too! LOL!))

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 5:17PM
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I think the obits are the only thing keeping our local paper going. I cannot believe the wordy obits some people have and always wonder about the cost. A recent one even had multiple details of his golf game!

The expense I really don't get are the memorial notices years later, often with a little rhyming poem about how much the person is missed, or wishing the long dead a happy birthday. I always think I bet the deceased would want that same money spent on something life affirming or practical. But OTHO, those things are keeping the paper going & providing jobs so I suppose it's not a waste if the family can afford it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 5:28PM
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I am surprised ~shocked, actually~ that obits are very expensive! I had no idea. I guess it's something I need to find out. After reading this thread through again this morning, I called my sis in Atlanta and encouraged her to finish up details with our parents soon. I'm concerned that there are still loose ends to tie up. One thing she did admit to is being uncomfortable asking them about what kind of memorial services they would like. I'm guessing that this is probably fairly common with us and our parents? Anyhoo, my next call to my sis will be about obits. Like Hhireno, I'm always amazed by the length and detail of many obits these days. And, now most include a photo, as well. My father had a very long and distinguished career in banking. I'd better warn whichever sibling is designated to write Dad's to check the ongoing rates first (LOL)!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 5:52PM
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I'm sorry for the recent loss of your Mom Teacats.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 6:41PM
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This has been a very enlightening thread. Although I know my parents' wishes, we know nothing about what DH's parents might want, and his dad will be 90 this summer. I am going to nudge him to start this conversation with them. Thank you to everyone for sharing.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 6:43PM
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The Washington Post rates range from $300 for a 2" black and white M-F to $730 for a Sunday 5" color notice. For more than 6" it is $132 per inch extra.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:00PM
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Don't feel bad about asking or bringing up your own wishes. It is a considerate thing to do -- whether making your wishes known or asking to honor last wishes. If it gets uncomfortable, you don't have to press, but ask for it to be put in writing and made available. It is SOOOOOO much easier when you know what to do.

Last August, I got a phone call from one of my good friends. She told me through sobs that she just found out her mother had passed three days earlier and she didn't know what to do or where to begin. I helped her and then helped my dad with my mom. I cannot begin to tell you how much easier it is when you have a plan. Now we are dealing with my dad and his COPD and heart failure. I think it is easier on us both to know that the plan is there and the plan worked for my mom -- it will work for him too.

Do it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:07PM
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My father died 20 years ago and wanted to be cremated, mostly for the cost savings and he couldn't see the point of a burial plot when we almost never went to the cemetery. For many years the Catholic Church did not allow cremation, so it wasn't even option if you wanted a funeral Mass. Then after he died, he sat on the buffet for 15 years! We didn't know what to do with him and he never said anything. After my mother died 5 years ago, my sister found a nice Veterans cremation plot --they're maybe 4' by 4'--where the Veteran and spouse could be put together, so that's what we did. She never said anything specific other than cremation. She didn't know what to do with Dad either.

When one of our last remaining aunts died, she had no service, and our cousin didn't even tell us until at least a month later. We were pretty upset about it. They said they had no family. Well, who were we then?

If you do want to scatter ashes, some places it is illegal, or you have to have a permit.

Annie, as someone who's done cadaver dissection, I don't think there is any body they refuse. Many of the cadavers in my class were people 90+ years when they died, and they were certainly useful. My group happened to have the youngest cadaver in 60's. At least at this school, the cremains are offered back tot he family if they want them. My sister and BIL have signed forms to donate to this medical school.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:45PM
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I've had far more experience with end of life decisions than I care to admit.

My father wanted to be buried, not cremated, so Mom & I went to the cemetary of choice and purchased a double plot. Dad really wanted to be buried in the state he grew up in, and where his family is buried, but to transport his body would have been several thousand dollars over and above the ridiculous cost of the plot at that cemetary. As it was, we bought him a nice casket, but had him buried in the town he & mom lived in. My sister and I both live far away-our brother is in that town still, however.

The funeral was simple and small, but everything cost nearly $10,000-and that was in 1999.

When my FIL died, he was indigent-so DH and I paid to have him cremated. He'd given no preference in the past, and was not religious, so we bought the least expensive casket (funeral home required a casket for cremation) and had his ashes returned to us in a cardboard box. We chose not to get an urn, as DH and his brother were going to scatter his ashes. We had no viewing, no service-nothing-just the two boys & their mom who took his ashes up to the mountains.

When MIL died this past May, she was also cremated-no service (her wish). Again, simple casket and no urn. Her DH got a small heart shaped container with some of her ashes and we have the rest, again in a cardboard container. We have not decided what to do with her ashes yet, but I will probably add some to a rose bush I plan to plant this summer.

Some of DH's relatives-his fathers family-got mad at DH for 'doing nothing' after his mom died-I don't know why they think HE needed to do something-she was married and also has another son-but perhaps because we took the lead when his dad died they assumed we'd do the same. She had no other family-and told us she wanted nothing, so we've honored her wishes.

I really can't stress enough how important it is to get your wishes written and known. When Dad died, mom had bought that second plot and a joint headstone with her name and birthdate engraved on it. Then she remarried-and one day she told us kids that she planned to be buried with her NEW husband! We were really upset, and knew that if she predeceased him, he wouldn't bury her next to our Dad. So she finally made a decision to be cremated, and half her ashes to be buried with Dad, the other half with her new husband. She's also spelled out the two funerals/services, including songs and what is to be done at each. It's kind of funny, as they're wildly divergent-the one with Dad is to have only Amazing Grace sung, the Lords prayer and no church service. We're to go out to have a pasta dinner with wine afterward. With her DH it's a church service, several psalms and prayers and a cake & coffee reception.

I've told my family that I want my body donated to science. There will be no body to deal with-and in the case that my body is not accepted (for whatever reason), then a simple cremation and my ashes to be used as mulch for a tree, that can be planted along a stream. I DO want specific rock music played at my celebration of life and a big old party where they tell jokes at my expense and reminisce about all the goofy things I did. Even if I'm 100 years old when I go-I expect my progeny to whoop it up.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:25PM
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This thread was on my mind last night. I got to thinking more about cremation and the more I really thought it out, the less I think it bothered me. Hubby and I are going to research it a bit. If you are cremated, can your remains be buried in a cemetary plot? We do have plots and many of our families are buried in a particular church cemetary so it might be nice to have the remains buried and a simple graveside service. I like the celebration of life idea and after my mom's service we had a "get-together" of sorts with family and friends which I know my mom would have loved.

Someone mentioned not visiting cemetaries and my husband and I are very much in that group! My grandparents would be broken hearted if they knew that. For many years, my grandparents would visit the graves of loved ones and flowers were placed on these graves at various times throughout the year. I continued that for a while with my grandmother (before she went to assisted living - she has mild alzheimers) because it was important to her. But it's not important to me. To me, those are empty graves - my loved ones are not there. I will even admit here that I have not been to my mother's grave since she passed away over 3 years ago. I've not even gone back to see the headstone. I supposed I should go and at least see how it looks. I know my dad goes occasionally and that is fine - whatever makes him feel good and helps him deal with the loss.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:11AM
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This has been a fascinating thread. I have really enjoyed the calm, rationale points everyone has shared.

As far as scattering cremains as being illegal in some places - I know that is true. And I'm not someone who breaks laws lightly. :) But like so many things, to me there are shades of grey.

I'm sure scattering cremains in our local lakes is illegal. So is dumping raw sewage into the lake. Environmental laws exist for a reason. Having said that, I don't quite see them in the same vein.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Yes, it is really important to have a file of every account you access online with the passwords for your heirs or executor. My attorney told me how many hours (billable, I am sure) they spent trying to get this information for those who had not written them down. I pay nearly every bill online and also get my bank statements that way.

Also security alarm codes.

Remember, too, that your safe deposit box will be inventoried and the contents included in your estate after your death. If possible, get all that expensive jewelry out of there before you go! Pass it on to your heirs while you are alive.

Be sure to include your Gardenweb name and password in your Death File so we know you are gone!

I love the idea of cremation, a cardboard box and scattering ashes in a meaningful place. My sons can take the money saved on a casket and plot, go on a vacation and scatter my ashes wherever they happen to be. I may end up at the top of a ski mountain or on a mountain bike trail. Cool.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:07AM
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justgottobeme: Thanks for those kind words .... it means a lot to me! :)

Another story about The Cost of Death:

When we place Mum's ashes into The Wall (with my dad's ashes) -- the cemetery charges nearly $700 to take off the plaque, open the "box", and then re-install the plaque!!! LOL! Honestly-- my DH said that he could open and close it with a screwdriver for THAT KIND of money!!! We all laughed -- because my Mum and Dad would be appalled at that kind of cost! :)

AND -- to top it off -- we are paying more than $300 for the cemetery to write "-2014" for my Mum's date-of-death ....

We will go to the cemetery (just family!) and then out to lunch at one of Mum's favorite restaurants nearby -- great food and lots and lots of stories!!! :)

tinam61: Not sure about all cemeteries -- but many now do have "plots" in the ground that can hold ashes and a plaque. Most of those type of plots are quite small -- and might be much more affordable.

I do think that more cemeteries will have to offer Walls where folks can put their loved one's ashes! In the future -- I think that it will be the only viable -- and economic -- way to offer a cemetery "plot"

BUT -- to add to this excellent discussion about prep work -- when my Dad died in 2002 -- and all of the paperwork had to be done -- the ONE single mistake on the very old deed for their house (bought it in 1950 and they had paid it off in the 70s) -- cost my Mum more than $6,000 to "fix it" ..... SO CHECK ALL OF THE DETAILS ON OLD PAPERS!!! :) Make sure that all of the papers do contain the right names, dates etc.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Tinam61, it is possible to bury ashes from a cremation in a cemetery plot, though it may vary by location and it could turn out to be more expensive that way. They could require a casket or possibly just an urn. You'll have to inquire with the cemetery.

It bothers me that some funeral homes require a casket for cremation (as opposed to burial -- I can see some reasons for that, perhaps). Do you even know that the casket is cremated too? Why would they do that? It sounds wasteful and greedy on the one hand and potentially fraudulent on the other. Anyone that requires you to pay for something that isn't needed and burn it just for waste and profit would also sell the same casket 100 times.

My dad somehow found a retired military man who made a business of negotiating funerals to help folks avoid unnecessary costs, deal with transportation issues, etc. I called him to help with my friend and get what we needed at minimal cost, no service, no announcements, etc. I wish there was someone who did that every where. Because so many people don't pre-plan and don't know what the options are, so many decisions are made under pressure and when emotions are high. I wish there was someone who offered similar service everywhere, but if there is, I'm not sure how you find them. The best way is probably to look before you have just a few hours to have the body moved. My mom passed near 3:30 in the morning on a holiday before a weekend and the nursing home said they were required to have the body removed within 4 hours. I drove to the hospital to tell my dad mom was gone and when I came back, she was gone. I don't know what we would have done if there hadn't been a plan in place.

II went back and looked at the obit info I still have. What I originally wrote was less than 450 words -- short and sweet. The cost to put that plus her photo in the metro paper would be about $1500. The regional/community paper was maybe $250-300. My guess is that the simple announcements in our metro paper run most folks about $500 and that some folks easily spend $3,000 or more.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Thank you guys for the info. This has opened up quite an ongoing conversation between me and the hubby. He is a trustee at our little church and therefore deals with our church cemetary. He knows of one person who was cremated and buried there (that shows you what I meant about cremating not being the norm in my area). A hole was simply dug large/deep enough for the urn. We have plots in another church cemetary where many of my past generations of relatives are buried, and husband's father and brother are buried, and of course his mother will be buried there too. I will check with them about burying ashes.

It's also lead us to talk more about updating our wills, a caretaker for our pup (if need be), etc.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 2:56PM
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This has been a fascinating thread, and brought up for me the difficulty someone I know is currently experiencing. Since Tina and others have mentioned wills already, I hope this won't be considered too off topic. This person's parents both passed in the same year, and neither had a will despite having property and other assets. They both received the traditional funeral services and burials they wanted, but have left in their 'wake' a tidal wave of distress and misery with one adult child who still lives in their home apparently freely disposing of and living off assets while the other who faces many challenges continues to live in their run down tenement and "cannot afford socks and underwear" let alone repair the leaking roof, etc., while every single day stressing and crying about the unpaid funeral bills, taxes, needed structural repairs and the refusal of the sib to share anything etc. while the probate process inches along and the legal bill mounts dramatically. Moral of the story: create a Living Revocable Trust. This would have been sooooo much more helpful than never thinking past specifying that xyz funeral home was to handle their remains in xyz fashion etc.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:57PM
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I just happened to catch Suze Orman on PBS today and she said exactly what peegee just stated above....a Living Revocable Trust is better and more practical than a will.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 5:44PM
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A Living Revocable Trust would be best for some - but not necessarily better than a will for all. The best thing to do is see a lawyer and find out what is best for your situation. This is a timely topic as I have been dealing the past couple of weeks with having some stock transferred that belonged to my grandfather. I can only assume he did not know/understand about this stock as it was through a company he had a life insurance policy with. I was the executor of his estate (a little over 10 years ago), and he left me a detailed listing of his assets, went over past tax returns with me, etc. wanting me to be familiar with his holdings. The stock was never mentioned. A company notified me some time back about this stock and it is worth a nice chunk of money. So, I have been dealing with the company who is transferring the stock and my grandparents' lawyer. My grandfather had a sizeable estate. However his will was not probated. Their was some question about that this week (from the transfer company), and it required some legal forms to be prepared. Their lawyer explained to me that in our state - probate is not necessarily required if all assets are jointly owned by a husband/wife. This was the case in my grandparents estate. I was surprised to learn that if necessary, even after 10 years, my grandfather's will could still be probated. Also - having a will probated can apparently become costly. After the transfer company's legal team reviewing the matter, there is not a need for probate, but like I stated, some additional legal documents were prepared. My point is, things are different from state to state and certainly from family to family as to how an estate will be distributed. My husband and I have no children and because of our wishes as to how our property/assets will be handled after our deaths, and due to the fact that all assets are jointly owned, wills work for us. Getting legal advice on estate planning is very important.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:14PM
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Tina... you might have incurred some legal fees in getting the stock transferred over to you since extra documents had to be prepared. ...this might have been avoided with a LRT. I just watched Suze again on this subject and she said most lawyers will tell you a will is sufficient, but she said having a LRT is more important, even if you don't have $. She used the example of her mother dying and leaving her house to her in a will. Since Suze's name is not on the title, it will have to go to probate court for a judge to determine that in fact the house was left to only her. Once the judge determines the house is Suze's.....which can take a few months up to 2years...the deed is transferred but with a lot of probate fees...she said $10,000... If Suze does not have the $ to pay these fees, the house is sold to pay them. OTOH, with a LRT, the title is transferred in a matter of weeks, no fees.

The way I understood it, the will only says who will get what, but it does not cover the transfer of any assets. So, if you are leaving a house, stocks, boat whatever to anyone, a LRT makes transferring these assets much easier and less costly.

Of course, things may be different for each state, but...

What stuck with me is when she said "most lawyers will tell you a will is enough." We redid ours about 5 years ago and I am having DH dig it out to see if it is strictly a will or a LRT....if it's just a straight will, we'll be calling the lawyer to at least discuss it.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 11:26AM
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No legal fees were incurred. I think the main difference here in our examples is you are talking of children inheriting from parents and I am talking of spouses who jointly own assets. I'm by no means an expert on this, but we have both a lawyer and a financial advisor who were consulted. I
This all will be completely different when my grandmother passes away. Her will was redone after my grandfathers death, but she would now not be considered of sound mind to make changes.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Tina...yes, it's all rather confusing...I'm glad you did not have to pay any fees. Even though you don't have children, I wonder if the implications are the same if you want to leave assets to nieces/nephews, friends, etc. it sounds like you've done the right thing for your I just need to get DH to find ours and see what we have...certainly don't want the kids to be faced with fees and hassles.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Tina--we will be cremated. my dh and I have one plot..which we can both be buried in. We have to be in an urn for burial but a vault is not required. Our plot is next to his brothers (he is alive) and his deceased first wife. When she died, she was cremated and was buried in and urn. At that time...the urn had to be in a vault. It was a small vault.

My DHs other brother just recently died out of state. He was cremated and his wife brought his ashes home. He was buried in an urn in our same Catholic cemetery. The urn was purchased online. The funeral expenses overall were very reasonable.

The first brother I spoke of lost his wife when she was quite young. They had 5 yr old twins. His name is on the stone. He raised the kids and has been remarried for many, many years. We often wonder how he will handle his burial.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 1:37PM
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CA Kate

This is a most interesting and timely thread that I found from the 'Most Recent Posts' sidebar on another GW forum.

In Oct. DH almost died, and sitting idly in ICU for 2 weeks gave me plenty of time to think about all the things that might have needed to be ready if he had actually died. Once we got home and things settled down I began the dreadfully hard task of getting those 'things' in order... like choosing a funeral home to call at time of death. Another thing was getting Hospice started so that the next time he's dying I will call Hospice instead of 911.
(He already has an Advanced Medical Directive that states that there are to be no extraordinary things done to keep him alive.)

One of the things I realized I didn't know was what happened to our communal money. It use to be that everything got instantly tied-up until a Probate Judge allowed a little to be given to the family to pay bills and eat; not so any longer... at least not in CA. Also, what happens to the money in his IRA? It goes directly to me, his wife with no tax consequences; but, if it went to other heirs then all taxes have to be paid before the money can be doled out to them.

We also had our wills, Advance Medical Directives, and our Trust updated a few years ago while HD was obviously totally aware and could still, sort of, sign his name.

As to a Trust: Things (houses, cars, money accounts, etc.) put in a Trust are owned by the Trust, not a person; which is why, when a person dies, the things in the Trust don't need to go to Probate, ei: the Trust didn't die, a 'person' did. The Trust is administered by a Trustee or Trustees; right now those would be me and HD with our children as alternate Trustees. If a Trustee dies the authority just goes the next Trustee.

You also need a will because there are things, like Life Insurance, that can't go into a Trust, and those should be as few as possible.

As to the topic at hand: I also don't know quite what to do about a funeral, viewing, memorial service, etc. when "the time comes". Yesterday a friend reminded me that DH was a very important person to a lot of people, and that, she was sure, they would like the opportunity to honor him when the time came. Pick-up and cremation are already arranged, but nothing else. I will heed my friend's kind advice and have some sort of a memorial service for him. Many here have given some good ideas of what to do with the ashes. I especially like the idea of the 'hole in the wall'. I will check that out next.

As to planning for my death... no time for that right now.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:36PM
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You're very welcome Teacats. I'd have sent you a private message, but you don't have your profile here set up to accept them.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:06PM
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When I have my hair trimmed, I don't care about the hair left on the floor, I'm just happy with my new cut.
When we die, I think we won't care about our tired out "earth suits", we will just be happy with the Lord and our loved ones.
I'm going to play hopscotch, run, swim, hop, all the fun things arthritis stops me from doing. Good riddance, earth suit ! (Someday)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:18PM
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Westelle, just wanted to point out that life insurance is paid to the beneficiary(ies). The policy is part of a person's estate while alive, but the benefits paid out are not. They go directly to whoever is specified. A person wanting life insurance to cover final expenses of the estate first would need to plan for that -- or at least trust the beneficiary to handle it properly. A will is still advised, but mainly to take care of anything that may not have been transferred into the trust.

I just realized that my dad flinched on adding me to his bank account and wasn't ready to add me as a trustee on the trust. He is in poor health and while I have a medical power of attorney, I think the general power of attorney that goes with the trust becomes effective when he dies. If he is incapacitated but living, I could get caught in a lurch. For all his planning, there might be a gap.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:14AM
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Lascatx - POA goes into affect when the person is no longer able to make decisions, etc. on their own. I am POA for my grandmother and have been acting in that capacity for about 4 years. Once she passes away, I become executor of her estate. It is good you have the medical power of attorney for your father. My sister is a nurse and is my grandmother's medical power of attorney.

Since your father has given you POA with the trust, perhaps you could talk to him about general POA in case it is needed before his death.

Because of problems with a relative, our lawyer also had me register the POA at the court house.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:56AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

In our state, it is very important that you make a durable POA. A POA is in force only so long as the person who gave it is competent to say they want you to continue to have that power. A Durable POA survives beyond competency. I don't know if it's the same in other states. Also, a power of attorney is in force once given, so be sure to give it only to someone you trust and who won't use it until absolutely necessary. There are many nightmare stories where mother/father, in anticipation of growing infirmity has given his/her POA to a "trusted" child, only to be ripped off and left destitute.

I remember that whenever it came to me handling investments for my Mom, I had to go through hoops to be able to do it....funny though that when it came to paying her bills, there never was any question....

As far as LRTs and wills, you should have both. Mother did, but unfortunately, the attorney messed up and didn't make it a "pour over" will so I still needed to probate assets that were outside her will (her car, her van...) and it was a real PITA. A pour over will simply says that upon her death, any assets held outside of the trust get transferred into the trust and then distributed as stated in the trust document. The beauty of the LRT is that I was able to handle her assets immediately upon her death. Not only for bill paying, but I was able to sell her house and her condo without issue right away. Had she not had the LRT, it would've been months or years before the probate was done and I would've had to bear the expenses of maintenance, taxes and insurances on the properties until then. And of course, the more complicated the assets, the longer the probate.

gsciencechick, yes actually Yale will reject a cadaver. They will not take you if you are emaciated, obese, died of something infectious, have too many body parts missing (like if they took you for transplants first) or if you were mangled.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elder financial abuse

This post was edited by AnnieDeighnaugh on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 9:35

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:25AM
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If you do a trust, you must make sure that your assets are placed into the trust --make the trust the beneficiary of retirement and other accounts, for example. This doesn't happen automatically. And, again, if you give a financial POA, you may want to place some restrictions in it.

My dad set up a trust, and also a will; in his trust he specified that my step-mother was to be provided for by the trust during her lifetime, then his children were to receive any remaining assets upon her death. It was clear that this was what he wanted; a few years after setting up the trust, he made a minor alteration but didn't change the trust, so I believe that he still intended and thought that everything was in place. However, when he died (after a few years with dementia) all of his accounts were now held jointly with step-mother, nothing could be transferred into the trust, and his financial wishes are not going to be followed.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:39PM
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