Through my work with Hospice and as a funeral director, I’ve personally witnessed families go through countless problems when a loved one died and their affairs were not in order.
Years ago I was in an at-need arrangement conference with a family whose mom had died in her late 70’s. 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 and in 2007, at the funeral home I was working with at the time, it was just enough to pay for the funeral the mother had requested. She had taken the wise step of having her selections of merchandise and services on file at the funeral home. Her wishes included a day of visitation with the funeral the following day.
As I began to calculate the total cost of the services and merchandise, 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 whatever 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 I started gathering information for the obituary, the youngest daughter stated that she did not want her name in the paper. She said something about not wanting thieves breaking into her home during the funeral.
So here I had a daughter that was willing to use her own funds to give the mother the funeral she wanted, one daughter that was hoping for a payout from the life insurance policy, and a daughter that didn’t even want her name in the obituary because of an irrational fear. It was a fascinating scene for me to observe when I was still relatively new to funeral service.
I have witnessed my share of bad behavior over the years. Fights during the arrangement conference, police being called during the visitation, and even fist fights in the funeral home parking lot. Most of these situations could have been avoided through planning ahead.
The point I am making is that death and the money associated with it can bring out the worst in people. Long held grudges over favoritism as children can blow up when a parent dies. 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, planning ahead is a great way to avoid disagreements among family members you leave behind. By taking steps to avoid the emotional overspending that typically occurs or paying thousands more by choosing the wrong cremation provider, you should also establish a Revocable Living Trust or Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Representative and take other appropriate legal steps. It’s a gift of love to preplan your cremation. Prepaying for your cremation services is also a great idea if you can.
Feel free to call Tennessee Cremation Care at (931) 553-1660 with questions about planning cremation services in advance. We provide simple cremation services to Clarksville and all of Montgomery County. Our service area also includes the Nashville area and also Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Tennessee Cremation Care is unique in that we provide only basic cremation with no services. I am always here to help and answer any questions you many have. Learn more by visiting our website at www.tennesseecremation.com.