Funeral Trusts: Does Your Estate Plan Have One?

A new client recounted an incident that her best friend Janelle had recently when her mother passed away.  Janelle gave us permission to share her story in the hopes that it can be helpful.

“After my mother died, I traveled from my home in Los Angeles to Iowa where she was living to handle her affairs.  After arriving, I learned the local funeral home wanted $1,705 cash up front for the pickup and shipment of her body from the local nursing home to Michigan, where my father is buried. My mother’s wish was to be buried alongside him.

The Michigan mortuary was asking for another $8,000.  Unfortunately, I have limited resources and couldn’t pay that.

My mother had an existing life policy with $19,900 of death benefit, but the funeral home refused to take assignment from the trustee of a revocable living trust; their policy is to only accept assignment from an individual beneficiary.  Of course, even if they would accept assignment, which funeral home would I assign, the Iowa funeral home or the Michigan one?  They both wanted pre-payment.

I felt completely helpless; my mom had an estate plan, but it had a massive gap without funeral planning provisions.”

The moral of the story: ensure your estate plan contains a provision for funeral trust planning.  We are happy to discuss your existing estate plan with you to see if it contains the funeral trust planning you require.