Taking the Pressure Off: End-of-Life Financial Planning

End-of-Life Financial Planning

Budgeting and planning for your final arrangements and funeral service are probably the last thing you want to think about. They’re also the last major decisions of your life story. There is no need to fear preparing for what is just part of the circle of life. Here at the Beth El Mausoleum in Boca Raton, Florida, we pride ourselves on our dedication to making the most challenging and difficult personal and financial decisions easier for both pre-need funeral planning and at-need funeral arrangements. To help you navigate this road we have valuable information.

We, along with several experts in the funeral industry and an estate planning attorney,  will share their thoughts. Subjects include: budget planning for a Jewish funeral, the role of the funeral home vs. the cemetery or mausoleum, how to avoid inflation by locking in guaranteed rates today, Beth El Mausoleum pre-need discounts, pricing and burial insurance.

Budgeting for a Funeral

During the course of our life, plans are put in place and budgets are set for so many things – holidays and celebrations, home purchases, college tuition for our children, vacations and our retirement. But just like all of these things, costs rise for funeral arrangements, too.

That is why pre-need planning which includes pre-paying for this life cycle event, will actually save stress as well as money in the long run.

“There’s no doubt it’s a topic that is uncomfortable from an emotional point of view, but also financially. Funerals are a big expense, and that’s why I always recommend pre-planning, not only because when there is a loss the family doesn’t have to scramble to figure out what to do, but because the expenses could be overwhelming if not planned for,” says Mike Sirowitz, Beth El Mausoleum Director.

There are several elements to consider when planning ahead for a Jewish funeral service and the fees involved. They include the provisions that the funeral home provides, the service and the burial (cemetery or mausoleum) location. In addition, there are extraneous expenses such as meals of condolence, tombstones or plaques, inscriptions, and newspaper obituaries. There are other expenses that may come in to play depending upon the individual circumstances.

An Expert’s Advice: Make Pre-Arrangements

“Some new clients come to me and advise that they keep their funeral wishes to themselves and will leave it up to their children (or others) to deal with those things at their death. I can tell you from experience that this is not a pleasant task to assume right after the death of a loved one. I strongly advocate that my clients make pre-arrangements and advise their families of the details of such arrangements. This takes a huge burden off them. They simply have to make a phone call and all else will be handled.”

Mark A. Schaum, Esquire, CPA, PA
Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Law

Mike has worked with countless families who have come to him to make their final arrangements. For some, money is no object – for others it is a struggle. He has encountered situations where the spouse who always handled all the finances passes. The surviving spouse may be at an additional loss as to what to do. In this situation, the surviving spouse may not even be aware of their own financial circumstances – having always relied on their life partner. Thoughts of “what can I afford to spend?”’ come up at the worst possible time.

Mike wisely advises that from both a spiritual and financial point of view, it’s best to discuss everything in advance.

Avoid Inflation: Pre-Paid Funerals

No matter your final wishes – you can count on the fact that the cost is always going to go up…generally consistent with inflation. A Jewish prepaid funeral will cost less when purchased now as opposed to buying a year or more from now. “Generally speaking, prices do go up and this year appears to be no exception,” says Mike.

At the Beth El Mausoleum, sacred spaces such as air-conditioned indoor spaces, lower rows (inside or outside) that you can touch, spaces for two people that are side-by-side as opposed to head-to-head are in greater demand and are therefore more expensive. If you have a preference for a specific location or type, not only will you save money by securing it as soon as possible – it will be reserved for you, to avoid disappointment if all are spoken for.

No Hidden Costs

When making arrangements at the Beth El Mausoleum, there are no surprise expenses – we pride ourselves on our full transparency.

There are no hidden fees, no open/close fees, no filing or recording fees, no sales tax since the Beth El Mausoleum is a non-profit organization, no extra charge for livestreaming the service, or the unveiling. All of this is included.

Additionally, 20% of every purchase goes into a perpetual care fund so there are no future costs either. We include everything other than the casket or urn and the required services of a funeral home.

Pre-Arrangement Discounts

For those who make pre-need arrangements, the Beth El Mausoleum gives a 5% discount on the total price of the selected crypt or niche.

There are also no-interest payment options to make it even easier for those who aren’t in a position to pay in full. For those who can pay in full, they get an additional discount –the 5% pre-need discount plus a second discount of 5% for paying in full.

Arrangements can be made with the Temple Beth El of Boca Raton finance department to pay the annual amount due, monthly.

One area in which the Beth El Mausoleum stands out among cemeteries and funeral homes around the country, is that arrangements are considered “pre-need” for anyone that is ill or perceived to be near death. The 5% discount is available even with an imminent death. As Mike explains, “We do not feel it is our place to say when someone is going to pass away – that is not appropriate for us to determine – so as long as they are alive they are eligible for the pre-need discount.”

Someone whose passing is imminent will not be able to pay over time but since payment will be in full for the pre-need arrangement, they will receive the additional 5% discount as well.

Sample Pre-Need Payment Options

A crypt purchase for caskets requires 20% at contract signing with 4 years of no-interest annual payments. In total with the down payment, you will be making 5 payments. Another option is 12 monthly annual payments over that same 4-year time period.

Cremation is also an option. A niche purchase for cremation/urns requires 1/3 of the amount at signing, followed by two annual payments. Another payment option is monthly payments over that same 2-year time period.

Budget for the Funeral Home

Budget for a Funeral HomeSeparate from a cemetery or a mausoleum, a funeral home for burial or cremation should be an integral part of your end of life planning budget – and can also be pre-arranged. The funeral home provides a variety of important and required services working in conjunction with your choice of a final resting place.

“There’s a difference between financial planning and estate planning. The first focuses on your current and future financial goals, the second targets distribution of assets at the time of death, and who will handle that process. Planning ahead now will ensure that your estate will be able to cover the costs of your wishes. When you make pre-arrangements, the price is guaranteed to remain the same regardless of how much time passes. Once you make your decision, finish the process by making the purchase. Hope that it will be a long time before it’s needed…but it will be ready and waiting when the time comes.”

-Keith Kronish, Co-CEO, Co-Founder and Funeral Director,
Kronish Funeral Services

“Making funeral pre-arrangements is an important part of your financial planning. From our perspective there’s virtually no greater gift you can give to those you leave behind than to carefully plan all aspects of your funeral. There are many advantages to doing this. You’ll lock in guaranteed prices for all services and items purchased. Your survivors won’t have to figure out how to pay for everything and determine your wishes. And you will have the funeral you want. It will be more meaningful, and your family members can focus their energies where they should be….on grieving. You will have peace of mind. There’s comfort in knowing that everything has been arranged.”

-Steven Kanowitz, Vice President
Gutterman Warheit Memorial Chapel

The Beth El Mausoleum works with all local funeral homes. We have arranged preferred pricing from Kronish Funeral Services and Gutterman-Warheit Memorial Chapel, both of whom we work with often and have offered to do so.

What About Burial Insurance?

Burial insurance is another factor to consider for your end of life planning. Based on the company and individual policy it can cover a variety of expenses. However insurance will not pay out until after someone passes away. This means that if you need to pay in full at the time of the death, you will need to wait for reimbursement afterward. Some cemeteries may accept “assignment” and wait for the payment. But we and many others do not.

Coming Full Circle

Beth El Mausoleum Boca Raton FloridaFrom the viewpoint of a glass half empty to a glass half full, funeral financial planning removes the burden of so many unforeseen expenses from your loved ones. Just as there is a cost of living, yes…there is a cost of dying. But with proper planning and locking in prices at today’s rates, we can live our lives according to our means. And know that when the time comes, our final wishes will be granted. Because they were planned for and paid for… hopefully long before we ever need them.

Please contact Mike Sirowitz, Beth El Mausoleum Director, to answer any of your questions about pre-planning.