My mother passed away last week. I don’t tell you this for sympathy because my mother was 90 years old and had a wonderful, full life. However, her quality of life had gone down quickly over the past year and she simply died of old age, just like we all hope to do.
I am writing this because this is the first death I have experienced up close. I have been in the life insurance business over 30 years but have never had a family member close to me pass where I had to take care of the process that happens after death. The process was relatively simple in this case because my parents had pre-paid their funeral arrangements at a local funeral home. My dad and I, Dad is 94 by the way, went to the funeral home, made a few decisions, signed the paperwork and were out of the funeral home in about an hour. My mom had also left an unexpected note telling us where she wanted her memorial service and what music she wanted. It was a blessing.
After visiting with the funeral home, we went to the church she had chosen and made the arrangements for a service the next Saturday. The service went very well, we had lots of friends and family, shed a few tears and had a few laughs. Mom would have liked it.
Had my parents pre-planning not been done, there would have been a lot of additional stress and confusion as to what to do. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated their forethought.
What they didn’t have forethought about however was their longevity. Mom made it to 90 and didn’t incur a multitude of medical bills. With some home care help, my dad could care for her up until shortly before she passed, although it was exhausting him. It was not a good situation but putting her in a nursing facility was not what we wanted to do, plus my parents had no long-term care coverage. At the end, we did have to put Mom in a nursing home. Through hospice we received 5 days of care at no cost. It would then have gone to $168.00 per day, which my father could not have afforded. You see at 94 he is just making ends meet in the retirement community he lives in, and is spry enough that he could have several more years in him. Their nest egg and the results of inflation on social security and his pension would have been good up to age 85 or so; however, 94 plus becomes difficult financially. (Another Reason to Own Life Insurance Over age 85). Mom did have a small life insurance policy, $8500, which will be a great help to Dad, but things could have gone much worse. More care and higher medical bills could have eaten through the little Dad has, and then his living expenses would be falling to me and my brother. Now we have the concern over Dad’s finances and medical care.
I hear people say regularly, “I won’t live past 85” or “I don’t want to live that long”. Well friends, we don’t have much choice. We don’t choose when we are born and we don’t choose when we die. What we can do however is plan properly. Plan your funeral. Plan your service. Plan the songs you want people to remember you with. Plan for living too long. Plan to have life insurance in place for “when” you die to take care of those you leave behind. Plan for the living. Have at least a will in place for the ease of distribution of what you have. Help make the process of your death, whenever it occurs, a bit easier.
Yes, it takes time to plan. Yes, it’s not always easy, but it is smart. Talk to your insurance agent or trusted advisors. If you don’t have any, give me a call to help you find them. It’s important!