Thinking about end of life care for our elderly relatives isn't a particularly pleasant experience. Just as we have cared for our children, elderly people sometimes need some extra help as they get age. During the ups and downs of everyday life, we tend to push these kind of thoughts to the backs of our minds. But talking about the potential decisions you will need to make either for yourself or a relative can beneficial on two different levels. Firstly, it can be emotionally productive. If you and your family are close, talking about these topics can be difficult and upsetting experience at first. But, accepting what is going to happen can take away the shock factor for when it actually does occur. It will still give you time to grieve, but you will be able to remain strong as a family and able to look back on the good times with your relative. This is especially important for young children. If they have a traumatic experience when losing a relative for the first time, this can instill a fear of death in them. Talking about things openly as a family can help reduce this fear. Secondly, it can help you be better prepared for the practical aspects of losing a family member, such as inheritance and property. As your relatives age, it may be worth discussing life insurance with them.
Why the need for life insurance?
People are living longer than ever these days. Life expectancy across the world has increased drastically since the dawn of civilized society. In the Roman Empire, the average life expectancy was between 20 and 25 years. At the turn of the 20th century the average world life expectancy was 30 years old. It was only 85 years later that this figure had more than doubled to 62 years. It is thought that this is largely to do with better health care and the increased use of vaccinations in childhood. Women in particular are reaching older ages than ever before – usually living between five and ten years longer than men. A possible reason behind this is that women typically develop cardiovascular diseases in their 70s and 80s. Men are more likely to fall ill in their 50s and 60s. Plus, studies have found that the older you become, the longer your life expectancy is. The life expectancy of the average American is 77.7 years. But, by the time they reach 65, most Americans will still have an average of 18 years left to live, bringing the expectancy up to 83 years old.
What policy will I need?
It is for these reasons that you, and your relatives, are likely to outlive your life insurance policies. It can, therefore, be worth taking out a life insurance policy later in life. Or, if you are already tied into a policy, try speaking to the provider to see if you can extend it. Life insurance policies are designed to ease the financial pressure from your and your family, should a relative pass away. You will receive a lump sum payout from the provider should this happen. With certain providers, you may also receive money should your relative be diagnosed with a terminal illness. There are options to suit every budget, with cover ranging from $5000 to $50,000. This sum of money can essentially be used for whatever you like. You can use it for medical treatment, household bills, even paying off your mortgage. However, more and more people are putting this money towards the funeral. In fact, many elderly people themselves are requesting in their wills that this is where the money should go.
The cost of dying
It is no great surprise. Like other services, the cost of having a funeral has risen significantly over the past few years. With every cost factored in, reports tell us that the average cost of a funeral these days is between $8000 and $10,000. The funeral industry itself is huge and lucrative. After all, every family wants the best send-off possible for their loved one. Most people use the services of a funeral home when co-ordinating a burial, as they will coordinate most of it for you. However, the cost of everything can be broken down so you can really see where your money is going.
The funeral itself
This is the part properly arranged by the funeral directors. You will most likely be asked to pay a basic fee to the funeral home to cover their manual labor and time. Then, you will need to buy a casket, pay in advance for the ceremony, pay for body preparation and any extras you will require – such as a hearse. Other optional extras include an obituary and the death certificates, which all incur a cost. You will have a meeting with the funeral director prior to parting with any money to discuss your needs and what you want to happen on the day.
Unless you are having a cremation (something that has risen in popularity lately) you will need to buy a grave plot from your chosen cemetery. Local cemeteries used to be owned by not-for-profit organizations. However, they are now most commonly owned by the same parent organizations who own the funeral homes. An average cost of this would amount to around $1000, plus a fee to actually dig the grave.
You will want to mark your loved one's grave with a fitting headstone. Headstones can be a final tribute to your relative, and your local headstone dealer will be able to create something that fits your brief. If a standing headstone is too expensive (they normally cost around $2000), consider getting a grave marker instead. A grave marker is a square box or plaque that sits on the ground at the head of the grave, with an inscription on it. They tend to be priced at around $1000. The funeral home you choose may help coordinate the purchasing of a grave and headstone as they will have all the contacts. However, it is important to remember that these costs are still separate from the funeral home fee.