January 29, 2024

How advisors can help clients prepare for their final goodbye

How advisors can help clients prepare for their final goodbye

Planning for death can be scary. When discussing this topic with our clients, it can bring up a variety of emotions. Many people are still coming to terms with the idea that they will one day pass away and no longer be with their loved ones. It is our job to help our clients process these feelings and create a plan to carry out their wishes and say their last goodbye.

How Does the Client Want to Mark Their Passing?

Clients have options regarding what will happen when they pass away. Some may prefer a traditional funeral at their place of worship, complete with music, scripture readings, and a meal afterward, focused on mourning the client’s passing. Others may prefer a celebration of life with home videos, sharing stories, and laughter, highlighting the client’s experiences and accomplishments in life. Or some may request that no service or celebration be held. By planning ahead, clients can make their wishes known and ease the stress that comes with a loved one’s passing.

It is important to note that documents outlining instructions for a funeral or celebration of life may not be legally binding in the client’s state. However, having clients put their wishes in writing enables their loved ones to use that information when making decisions regarding final arrangements.

Does the Client Want to Leave a Personalized Goodbye Message?

An estate plan can include personal touches to help clients say goodbye to their loved ones. This could be a letter or video generally addressing their family and friends or messages for each individual who has played an important role in their life.

How Will the Client Pay for Their Final Expenses?

Depending on the extent of the client’s wishes and the anticipated cost, there are many different options to allocate money to cover their expenses. The following includes a few options.

Funeral Trust

A funeral trust holds money for funeral costs until the client passes and then pays the money to the beneficiary (typically a funeral home providing services). A funeral trust allows the client to set aside funds to pay for the following funeral expenses:

● casket

● burial vault

● cemetery plot or urn

● embalming or cremation

● funeral service and accompanying gathering

● obituary

● death certificate

While this tool may not be common in many jurisdictions, it may be an option for some clients.

Final Expense or Burial Insurance

Final expense and burial insurance is a special type of life insurance policy that is purchased by the client to pay for funeral costs, medical bills, and other end-of-life expenses. The policy usually has a small death benefit, such as $5,000 to $25,000, meant to cover funeral expenses rather than provide financial support for the client’s loved ones. A trusted decision-maker is named the beneficiary and uses the funds from the policy to pay for final arrangements.

Separate Savings Account

Finally, if your client has enough financial resources, they could set aside money in a savings account to cover their end-of-life expenses. They would name an individual as the payable-on-death beneficiary—someone they trust to use the funds to pay for their end-of-life expenses.

Your Role

Given your close relationship with your clients, you are uniquely positioned to bring up this difficult but important topic, help them work through their end-of-life options, and discuss how they can pay for the related expenses ahead of time. By offering this level of service to your clients, you show how much you care about all facets of their life and death. Your satisfied clients will become raving fans, recommending you to their friends and family.

Proper financial and estate planning covers many areas of a client’s life. We welcome the opportunity to work with you to ensure that our mutual clients have plans to carry out their unique wishes. Give us a call to discuss how we can work together to help our clients say goodbye to their loved ones.

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