Category Archives: Uncategorized

Terminal Cancer Diagnosis How Will You Cover Costs?

The following is a post from guest writer, Scott Sanders, about how to cover costs for terminal illness.  You can find more information from him at www.cancerwell.org.

Terminal Cancer Diagnosis: How Will You Cover Costs?

Facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer is devastating enough.  If your finances are also in turmoil, you and your loved ones can be overwhelmed.  Here are some suggestions for covering the costs that come with treatment.

Consider your options.  When deciding how you will pay for treatment, you should first have a realistic idea of what your expenses will entail.  Carefully consider how you want to spend your remaining time and what treatments and procedures are important to you.  Some of your options and ideas may change through the course of your journey, but as CBS News points out, many people with terminal illnesses experience treatments they don’t desire because it is standard procedure for the medical industry.  This could mean incurring additional expenses and enduring difficult or unwanted procedures.  Discuss your preferences with your physician and loved ones throughout treatment.

Disability benefits.  If you are still a part of the workforce, The CPA Journal advises you are still eligible for disability benefits.  You also can use your Health Savings Account, or HSA funds, to cover medical and treatment expenses.  Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for Social Security disability payouts as well.

Viatical settlements.  Viatical settlements are life insurance policies, which are typically available for those with a life expectancy of less than 24 months.  The funds you receive through these policies are not subject to federal income tax.

Terminal illness insurance.  If you are not expected to live more than 12 months, terminal illness insurance might be an option for you.  Most standard life insurance policies offer a terminal illness benefit.  It is designed to start paying benefits as soon as you receive a terminal illness diagnosis.

Medicare Advantage insurance.  Medicare Advantage plans expand your Medicare coverage.  These plans help cover expenses such as prescriptions, vision and dental needs, which can be especially helpful after rigorous cancer treatment.  To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Part C plan, you should apply close to your 65th birthday, or 24th month of disability benefits.  The enrollment period opens three months before the month in which you turn 65, and closes three months after the month of your 65th birthday.

Veterans benefits.  If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, the Veterans Administration includes hospice and palliative care in the veterans benefits package.  Benefits include in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, there is no co-pay for hospice, and you can receive medical equipment, medication and personal care supplies.  You also direct the pain and symptom relief around the goals set by you and your loved ones.  You can apply online for assistance.

Funeral expenses.  Planning and paying for your funeral in advance can alleviate a substantial amount of stress and emotional burden to your loved ones during a difficult time.  U.S. News points out many people opt to pay with a trust or insurance through the funeral home, and a substantial number of people pay with a check or cash.  Social Security also pays a small, one-time death benefit, which can be applied to funeral or burial expenses.

Self-funding.  If you are wealthy or have assets you can liquidate, self-funding care is a viable option.  Much depends on how readily available your assets are.  Consider selling property you own outright such as a boat, RV or vacation home.  Your decisions can impact taxes for your surviving loved ones, so consider talking with an attorney and/or financial planner regarding your estate.  You may wish to review an end-of-life checklist as well.

Facing a terminal illness is difficult, and it’s important to establish a plan for your expenses.  Being prepared can alleviate stress for you and your loved ones.  Weigh your options and take your final journey on solid financial ground.

Will Online Competition Affect the Funeral Business?

What effect, if any, will online competition have on the funeral business?  Will growing online sales of funeral goods and services  change the industry in any way?

I think the funeral business has been slowly changing to reflect online competition, and more importantly, the trend towards immediate cremation rather than a traditional funeral, but I do not anticipate any huge change or disruption in the near future.

Funeral providers are already forced to be transparent in their pricing.  According to the FTC Funeral Rule, a funeral home is required to provide a written price list.  They must accept a casket purchased elsewhere, and are not allowed to apply a markup or service charge to it.  Cremation providers already advertise their prices in various publications, and discounting is common in that area.

Regardless, even if consumers purchase their own caskets, they are usually obliged to go to a licensed funeral provider for other services needed, be it embalming, preparation, transportation and burial of remains, etc.    So profits have been declining while costs are increasing, but I don’t believe the industry will change drastically.  I recommend the best way to save money is for consumers to always price shop before the need arises.

If you have any questions about funerals for either humans or pets, ask the expert!  Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

 

Cremation Tip!

How can consumers save money on cremation services?

Try the following:  Go to a local telephone book or search on the Internet in the area where the cremation will take place.  Look up “Cremation (or Memorial) Services” ,  and “Funeral Homes”.  Call several of them.  You should be able to receive price information over the telephone without the need to visit each facility you call.

Have a question about funerals or funeral planning for humans or pets?  Ask the expert!  Email Mike at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

 

 

A Cask with your Casket: Funeral Home Adds Wine with your Service

These days funeral home and cemetery operators must think about other ways to attract clientele.

A Florida funeral home now offers a wine gathering during its funeral services, and another funeral home is offering catering options that allow families to hold receptions on site.

Have questions about funeral planning? Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Airlines Cancel Bereavement Fares

I discussed airline bereavement fares in my book, “How to Bankroll a Funeral Without Breaking the Bank”, but times have changed, and discounts may no longer be available.

Most airlines have eliminated these discounts, since lower-priced tickets are usually available with online purchase anyway.  You must check with a particular airline to find out their bereavement fare, if it exists at all.

Have questions about funeral planning? Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Fake Funeral Notice Can Be Deadly – For Your Computer

The FTC has put out a warning that scammers are sending bogus emails that appear to be from a legitimate funeral home, but that actually can install malware on your computer.

Read all about it at FTC.gov:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/fake-funeral-notice-can-be-deadly-your-computer

Undercutting the Undertaker

I was recently interviewed for an article in the Deseret News entitled “Undercutting the Undertaker: Reducing the unavoidable expenses of dying”.  I want to thank the reporter, Michael De Groote, for a good article featuring Funeral Director Ron Henderson and myself.

You can read the entire article here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865594665/Undercutting-the-undertaker-Reducing-the-unavoidable-expenses-of-dying.html?pg=all

If you have any questions about funeral and funeral planning for both humans and pets, contact me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Live Radio Talk Show

On 12/11/13 I was a guest on Dr. Jeanette Gallagher’s BlogTalk Radio show discussing the need for Funeral Planning education before a death occurs.  We covered many areas including pre-planning, pre-financing, and what consumers should know and understand prior to purchasing funeral and final disposition goods and services.

*****  If you would like to listen to the hour-long program, click here.  *****

 

Dead People Can’t Pay!

I recently read an article about dead drivers being forgiven for traffic infractions including tickets, fines, and fees. The move is an effort to dispose of these type of traffic cases and give the courts more time to deal with living issues. Great idea!

I wonder, how many deceased drivers’ records are still considered active cases by the courts throughout the United States? Have a problem like this one? Try taking a copy of the death certificate for the deceased to the agency sending the bill to the deceased and see what can be done to resolve the issue. If the agency will not eliminate the case then suggest you give the agency the new address of the deceased (for example, the cemetery, mausoleum or cremation niche address) so that bills can be sent there to the attention of the deceased and see what happens.

Have questions?  Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

Scam Alert!

I recently read an article about the top 10 scams targeting seniors, and funeral planning was one of the ten.

Be aware there are different approaches, including predators reading death notices and then trying to extort money from the family claiming the deceased owed them money. Be careful!  If this ever happens to you get complete contact information from the caller or visitor and notify the police department. And as mentioned in my book, never put the address of the deceased in the death notice.

 Also, unscrupulous funeral homes will try to add unnecessary charges to the funeral bill by taking advantage of the consumer who is not familiar with funeral policy and pricing. Always shop several funeral homes and final disposition places (cemeteries and mausoleum facilities) for pricing information, and acquire price lists where possible. For example, you may be told a casket is required for direct cremation. Generally a less expensive cardboard cremation box is OK for use.

My advice is shop till you drop and become an educated consumer about the subject before a death occurs, commonly called pre-planning of a funeral. If a consumer waits until a death occurs, and sometimes this cannot be avoided, they are at a disadvantage when making funeral and final disposition arrangements. Again, become an educated consumer about the subject before the need arises!

Suggestion: ask questions prior to a death, look at a website where you can acquire information, ask questions and even purchase a book to help you through the funeral arrangement process. If you read my book and have a question not covered in it, simply e-mail me your question and I will answer it at no charge.

Scams are everywhere, don’t get caught in this one!

Have questions?  Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

Reselling Burial Property

With the economy where it is today, some consumers who have purchased burial plots, mausoleum crypts or even cremation niches are trying to sell them. If you are in this category, I suggest trying to sell the property back to the cemetery if it is in a buy back position. You may be offered less money than you paid for the property, but it is an option. Next, try advertising the property in your local newspaper, let the local funeral directors know about your property, seek out burial plot brokers on the web (always make sure these type companies are legitimate) and even look for web sites that advertise this type of property nationally.

This type of real estate is not the easiest piece of property to sell, so plan on seeking out as many areas as possible to help you sell the property. If you are a buyer, always check for the title of the property, making sure the paperwork is in place, and get it verified prior to paying anyone to purchase their property from them, just like any real estate transaction.

Have questions?  Email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

Airline Death Refunds

Although airlines are not required to issue full refunds for a ticket paid for, then not needed because the person named on the ticket dies prior to the flight, the airline should issue a refund for good customer relations. Offering to issue a credit to the person named on the ticket will not work, as the person has died and cannot use the credit.

If you have experienced this problem and have not been able to receive a refund for the ticket price, please contact me with complete details, and I will contact the airline for you in an effort to get the money paid for the ticket refunded .

 There is no charge for this service.   Just email me at mikeboyd@askthefuneralexpert.com.

Mike

Red Light Traffic Cameras at Intersections

More and more communities are installing traffic cameras at intersections to catch motorists running red lights and making right-on-red turns without coming to a complete stop.  If you are in a funeral procession you may be directed to go through a red light, but no traffic citation should be issued.  A check of the traffic video should be able to verify that you were a part of the funeral procession if you receive a citation.