LIFE INSURANCE – A GREAT WAY TO PAY FOR FINAL EXPENSES

People obtain life insurance for many different reasons.  A policy can act as a financial investment vehicle, a way to pay off estate taxes, and even a way to borrow money.  While these reasons are all valid, the created purpose of insurance in general is to prepare a strategy in case of emergency, whatever each personal “emergency” is.  Regarding life insurance, we can not forget that a policy can provide a significant lump sum of money at a very appropriate time.  It can be very expensive to buy cemetery plots, plan a funeral, and purchase a monument, and all of these costs are usually incurred in a short time period.  What better way to pay for these expenses than with a life insurance payout.

I have spoken about making your cemetery, funeral, and monument arrangements in advance, and the same goes for end of life expenses.  If you start planning at an early age, life insurance can be relatively cheap.  A small amount of input on your part, can yield a significant amount of output from the insurance agency.  The fact that insurance agencies are willing to work this way is beyond the scope of this post.  Never the less, with the right strategic planning, final expenses can be easily subsidized.  At the time of a death, family members have so much to deal with, including emotional grief; It is simply irresponsible to wait until a loved one passes to have to worry about finances.

If you have not already spoken to a financial advisor, make it a point to do so.  When the time comes, you will be grateful that you have planned accordingly.

ADVANCED FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Cemetery, funeral, and monument arrangements can be done in advance, and I highly recommend doing just that.  It may be uncomfortable to deal with these things for yourself or relatives while still alive, but it will definitely make things easier for you if you take care of them under calm circumstances.  Families have enough to deal with when a loved one passes on, and the last thing you should worry about is working with cemeteries and funeral homes at the time.  Pre-need arrangements can help to take the burden away from family members, and can often times save you money by locking in the current arrangement rates as asset price, regardless of when you or your loved ones pass on.

Another benefit to completing one’s own arrangements, is that personal preference can be taken into consideration.  Your family members don’t have to guess what it is that you would want on your bronze marker, or what kind of casket you would like to be buried in.  Most people are surprised at how relieved they feel knowing that no one else is going to have to worry about taking care of their arrangements.

I can’t say this enough: Majority of people plan for retirement from the day they begin to work, making sure that they have enough money to enjoy life after their working years are over.  The same should go for final arrangements.

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BUYING JEWISH MEMORIAL MONUMENTS

While the process of purchasing a monument for a loved one is not as difficult as planning a funeral, it is by no means easy.  To begin with, monuments are usually purchased anywhere between 1-12 months after a death has occurred.  At this time, most families are still grieving.  Aside from that, most don’t even know what a monument is.  In common terms, a monument is a headstone, footstone, ledger, bench, marker, or anything else that can be placed over a grave to memorialize the existence of the deceased.  Monuments are typically constructed of granite or bronze, as these materials are strong and are meant to last “forever.

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CHOOSING A JEWISH FUNERAL HOME

Funeral arrangements are generally the toughest part of the final arrangement process to handle, as the majority of people take care of them within 24 hours of the time of death.  It is important to select a funeral home that is in close proximity to the cemetery in which you own plots.  That funeral home will be familiar with the rules and regulations of the cemetery, and will have most probably worked with them plenty.  Some cemeteries actually have their own funeral homes on site, but often times they are not as well educated regarding the Jewish traditions.  While the funeral home does not have to be a Jewish one to perform a Jewish funeral, it is heavily recommended that you do choose one that is Jewish, or at least one that has performed Jewish funerals in the past.  It is important to observe the Jewish traditions between the time of death and the end of the funeral.  Most of the Jewish funeral homes are capable of performing any and all of the Jewish rituals, whether you are an observing orthodox Jew, or completely non-affiliated.  Your local rabbis can guide you as to which funeral home to use based on your level of observance.

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BUYING JEWISH CEMETERY PLOTS

When purchasing plots, it is not mandatory to immediately buy from the cemetery.  Often times individuals own plots that they are looking to sell for various reasons, and it may be most cost effective to purchase directly from them.  Usually the local Jewish newspapers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia will have advertisements in the classified section, so that is a good place to start with.  Most executive directors at their respective congregations will know of the person who handles their specific cemetery, and if any plots are available to members.  If that doesn’t work out, the cemetery will be able to provide you with what you require.

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO FINDING A JEWISH CEMETERY

ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR PERSONAL BELIEF SYSTEM.

The first step of course is to find a cemetery that is reasonably close to where you live so that you can visit easily.  Once you have found a few within close proximity, look to see which land is most affordable, and which one is aesthetically pleasing as a final resting place.  A great place to start is to check with a local congregation and find out if they have their own cemetery of if they have their own section within a larger cemetery, especially if you are already affiliated with the congregation.  Each person has a different opinion as to what constitutes a nice resting place, but in general most cemeteries try to place themselves in a secluded area, filled with grass, trees, and a feeling of serenity.  Take note of how well kept the cemetery is: Is the grass cut, are the graves easily accessible, do the monuments look like they are in good shape?

Figuring out who owns the cemetery will sometimes be a good indicator as to the level of service/maintenance that you will receive.  Many cemeteries are owned by large corporations, and those are usually not as well maintained, as the ownership is mostly concerned with financial gains.  While saying that, these cemeteries will usually have larger facilities that can accommodate many family members for years to come.  Smaller cemeteries that are privately owned will usually do a better job with service/maintenance, but may not be able to physically accommodate a later need regarding burial space.   Each cemetery has its own benefits and downfalls, you just need to evaluate which points are important to you and go from there.

Take note that each cemetery has different rules & regulations as to who is allowed to be buried there, and what kind of funeral & monument arrangements can be made.  This usually varies depending on level of religious observance, so make sure that the cemetery that you choose is in accordance with your personal belief system.