4. The Great Beyond
Mission: Find out if your family members want to be buried, cremated, donated to science, shot out into space, or whatever else is possible and legal. Also, you need to know if they already purchased plots, and ideally, if they have some form of Funeral Insurance (or perhaps a Totten Trust).
Why This Is Needed: There are some people who plan their Funeral out well in advance. Then there’s the majority who leave the planning up to the family. Either way is fine as long as the family is aware, especially if someone already owns a plot. Let’s face it: funerals are expensive. If the family needs access to funds right away and doesn’t have the cash handy to pay for the expense, knowing of pre-paid plans can really help.
Action: The absolute wrong approach to this topic: “I love this crispy green-bean casserole...speaking of crispy, what are you thoughts about cremation?” This is where age and experience tends to trump youth. Generally, the longer a person lives, the more loss they have experienced and they start viewing this as a practical discussion rather than something depressing and unspeakable. If your family experienced a loss in the past year, or someone mentions a funeral they recently attended, you can seize the opportunity by letting your family know what you want. It might sound strange, but try and keep it light to get other people talking and always speak about it in the distant future.
Advisor Notes: Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for many things, one of which is still being alive. Death is one of the last topics people want to discuss so if this topic is too sensitive as a dinner conversation encourage your clients bring it up when it might be more appropriate. No loving family member wants their death to be a burden on their family – as a trusted advisor, you can help them get their arms around the inevitable.