LIMA — Now that it’s the new year, millions of people will be making resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or to spend more time with friends and family.
But here’s a different type of resolution to consider: Getting your affairs in order. Updating a will, choosing burial plots, purchasing life insurance and pre-arranging a funeral aren’t exactly happy-go-lucky New Year’s focuses, but they can make a world of difference to the loved ones left behind.
“A lot of people just want to take the burden off their kids, you know, so that the kids don’t ever have to come in and make all of the decisions,” said Dave Huckeriede, director, embalmer and an owner of Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home in Lima. “A lot of people — say, mom dies — they can’t remember what mom’s mom’s name was. They don’t remember that stuff. So it’s all down there.”
Pre-arranging at a funeral home can remove both the financial and the emotional burden from family members. It can eliminate a guessing game of what the deceased would have wanted, too, from choosing between cremation and a traditional burial, down to the specifics of an obituary.
“We can do everything, from just basics of getting the history information for the family, who the survivors are, who is deceased,” Huckeriede said. “We can write all of that up for them, put it in the form of an obituary. They can check it, make sure it’s correct, make sure we didn’t miss anything that they would want to put in there.”
Pre-paying is another option for people wanting get their affairs in order. Although, it isn’t necessary to pre-pay when pre-arranging, Huckeriede noted.
“If you do pre-pay, then it does lock it in at that price,” he said. “As far as for us, we guarantee everything. There are some funeral homes that won’t guarantee what we call cash advance items — like the crematory, the newspaper, the minister, organist, cemetery. We guarantee all of those, but some don’t.”
Life insurance is one other area that will need to be addressed when it comes to covering end-of-life expenses. The biggest factor about life insurance is having the right amount, said Dennis Rockhold, co-owner (along with Brian Wentling) and financial adviser with Rockhold Wentling Financial Advisors in Lima.
“It’s kind of like if you’re going to get a wedding dress, or someone’s going to get a custom-tailored suit,” Rockhold said. “As financial planners, we look at assets that are current, and we look at your debts. And we factor in some assumed Social Security benefits. All to the point of trying to get the right coverage amount on an individual basis, case by case.”
Certain debts — like private student loans, for example — are not forgiven upon death. This can make a big difference in the amount of life insurance needed.
“There are still people in their 30s and 40s that still have college debt that isn’t federal,” he said. “So, federal college debt, the majority is forgiven upon the death or disability. However, there’s a lot of private college debt out there that they’re able to come back onto the estate.”
People of all ages should consider having some form of life insurance, he urged. Unfortunately in today’s world, many people tend to live in the moment and don’t plan for in case something would happen.
“The obituaries are full of people who died too soon. And then, you know, they need memorial contributions, or they have to pass the hat,” Rockhold said. “In my own career of 19 years, I’ve delivered some sizeable life insurance checks to families who never thought it was going to happen.”
Along with selecting the right amount of life insurance, it’s important to update wills and beneficiaries. Rockhold Wentling Financial Advisors doesn’t help directly with a will, but advisors can certainly match you up with compatible CPAs and estate planning attorneys who can.
“A lot of times I see wills that are 15 years old,” Rockhold said. “They don’t have a power of attorney in the event that someone is sick. So they need to have these documents updated.”
Being able to pass assets to the next generation or to your spouse while avoiding a probate situation is paramount, he added.
“My big goal is to pass as much of the wealth and money that a client has earned over their lifetime to their beneficiaries and charities, and keep it out of the hands of the government,” Rockhold said. “That’s the biggest goal and that is what I take great zeal with.”
Thinking about what will happen too your family in the event of a tragedy or illness isn’t a topic that many people like to discuss. But having your affairs in order can be a huge relief for loved ones during a time of crippling grief.
“You’re not going to be jinxed if you do this planning, at all,” Rockhold said. “What you’re doing is you love your family so much, that by pre-planning – at a time that’s probably the worst time in their lives — why don’t you make it easy on them, from a planning standpoint?”