Discussing Funeral Plans and End of Life Wishes: How to Raise the Subject 0

discussing funeral plans

Though death might seem ubiquitous in today’s society -we are surrounded by images of it in newspapers, on television, in films and video games, and most people will have experienced the loss of at least one close friend or family member- the old D word remains a thorny topic that we generally avoid talking about.

 

While this has a pronounced effect on how we deal with death psychologically and emotionally, it can also impact on the more practical aspects of preparing for the passing of a loved one. Although it can be difficult to talk about funeral plans and end of life wishes, doing so ensures that you’re ready for the eventuality of death and that the individual in question is remembered in the way they would like to be. Broaching the subject of death can be tricky, but it is something that should definitely be discussed at one stage or another.

discussing funeral plans

Why it’s important to talk about end of life wishes

Besides the more personal, emotional reasons for beginning to discuss the issue of death, there’s a number of practical reasons for doing so too. For most people, it’s important to know that their loved one’s final wishes will be respected and that any funeral service reflects their character and honours the role they played in people’s lives. A large part of this involves ensuring that all practical considerations have been taken care of and that nothing stands in the way of delivering the funeral they deserve and desire. In this regard, researching funeral plans, or discussing the matter with funeral directors, drawing up a will and taking note of any particular last wishes, can ease the burden of grief and provide some peace of mind. Funeral plans in particular can ease both the emotional and financial pressure of arranging a funeral.

 

How to talk about death

While knowing why it’s important to openly discuss death is one thing, actually doing so is another matter entirely. How you go about raising the subject will depend on your personal circumstances, but there are a number of different approaches you can take. Whichever way you choose, it’s important to remember not to force the issue if the individual in question is uncomfortable talking about their own mortality.

 

Some families have a relationship that allows them to talk directly and openly about such matters, making it a great deal easier to discuss the practicalities of funeral plans and end of life wishes. In such a case, you may be able to talk about it whenever you feel it most appropriate. This could be a one on one chat or it may include all those involved in the planning process or close to the individual. This ensures that you don’t have to keep bringing up the issue in conversation and it prevents anyone from feeling left out of the planning process.

 

In other contexts, it may be more difficult to talk about end of life wishes without the assistance of a prompt or a reason for doing so. In this case, you could try to casually raise the subject in relation to another death – perhaps that of a relative, friend or celebrity, or even a character in a TV show or film. By talking about someone else’s death, it’s easier to ask less direct questions such as ‘have you ever thought about what you would like to happen when you pass?’ By beginning by talking about someone else, you make the discussion less about their mortality and more about death in general, giving you an opportunity to have a more relaxed and informal conversation that may make the process easier.

 

Finally, it’s a good idea to remember that it’s often a great deal easier to have these conversations sooner rather than later. While it’s not always possible, talking about death when it’s a more distant concept is far less frightening than when confronted with it as a close and realistic proposition. By starting early, you give yourself more time to discuss end of life wishes, prepare for the eventuality of death, and make it easier to broach the topic with a loved one.

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Can you leave it all to your cat? Pet beneficiaries explained 0

A cat who has been left an estate in a will

Somewhere in Germany, there is a dog with more money than most of us could ever dream of. 

Gunther IV, the world's richest dog
The real Gunther IV at home.

Gunther IV owns property in three countries. He spends afternoons by his private pool. He summers in the Bahamas. He has a butler, and a maid, and a limo. He apparently lives with a team of supermodels.

Gunther IV has all this because German Countess Karlotta Leibenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her dog, Gunther III. Who left it to his son.

Now, most pet owners would deem this a bit extreme. After years of letting the cat out, and in, and out again (ad nauseum), he really owes you — right?

But some of us do wonder: could I do that?

 

Can you leave your entire fortune to your pet(s)?

If you’re reading this in the UK, the answer is … sort of.

You can’t directly leave all your money to your cat, or dog, like you would a normal human beneficiary. In UK law, a pet is a possession, not a person (don’t look at me like that, I don’t make the rules).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend will live in style without you. Here are the options.

 

The popular choice: Pet guardians

If you’re a parent, you can use your will to choose legal guardians for your kids, just in case. A lot of people know about this. 

Don’t forget to show the guardian your chin-scratching technique.

What they don’t know is that you can do the same thing with your pets. 

It’s a standard service we offer here at Beyond. When you make your will, you can pick someone to take in your beloved pet. Someone you trust to give them the love (and constant door opening) they need. 

You can also leave your chosen guardian funds and equipment to help them in their new role of pet-parent. After all, pets can be pricey. The lifetime cost of owning a cat is £17,000, and dogs can cost us up to £31,000 over the years.

For most people, the pet guardian option is perfect (purrfect?). It means your pet will go to a loving home, rather than a shelter. And it prevents vicious family debates over their eventual fate.

But for others, something more tail-ored is required.

On Beyond, it costs just £90 to make a will that protects your pets. That’s hundreds less than most traditional solicitors! Click here to make your will with us today.

 

The full-throttle option: Pet trusts

Pet trusts are relatively new to the UK, but they’re catching on fast.

A dog with money from a pet trust fund
Dogs are famously rubbish with money. Photo from Training Academy on Flickr.

A pet trust is a pot of money that can only be used to pay for your pet’s care after you die. You choose a carer, and lay out a set of things the money can be spent on (vet’s fees, food, etc.) You also choose trustees. Their job is to make sure the money is actually spent on your pet, and not on holidays in Bali. 

When your pet joins you in the great beyond, the remaining money goes to your chosen beneficiary.

Now, pet trusts can be complicated to set up. Compared to naming guardians in your will, it’s a more expensive option. But if you’re interested, we recommend talking to our complex wills team. They’ll be able to help you out.

Interested in setting up a pet trust? No problem. Call our complex wills team on 0800 054 9793.

 

The catch

As you can see, making sure your pet will be cared for is easy.

But if you want to leave everything to them — the whole shebang —  there can be issues. 

Basically, your disgruntled relatives can (and probably will) dispute the will. 

While they likely won’t be able to snatch the whole fortune back, they can claim “reasonable financial provision”. So, if you don’t want them to drag poor old Fluffy to court, it’s best to leave at least something to your human loved ones.

 

The long and short of it

So, here it is in a nutshell. You can’t bequeath your dog or cat (or lizard) money in your will. But you can appoint guardians or set up a trust for them instead.

If you do this, maybe don’t leave everything to your pets. After all, what would a dog do with all that money?

A dog whose owner left him her whole estate

Oh, right.

 

5 Ingenious Wills Created Mostly For Revenge 0

A skeleton takes his revenge

Death! Suffering! Elaborate old-timey insults! Sure, you can make a will for nice, kind reasons. Support your family. Choose a home for your cat. Give to charities. But why do that, when you can settle some old scores? Stay tuned for five wills that served up a revenge as cold as the grave…

1) The legacy of bitterness

Wellington boots or wellington burts
Unverified sighting of Wellington Burt in the wild.

Michigan lumber tycoon and owner of a pun-worthy name, Wellington Burt died in 1919 with a hefty fortune under his belt (or should we say, tucked into his Wellington Burts?). A multimillionaire philanthropist in life, Burt was expected to make his family and his town very wealthy indeed upon his death.

But it wasn’t to be: reputedly smarting from a nasty family spat, Burt instead left the bulk of his fortune in a trust fund, not to be opened until 21 years after the death of his last grandchild. 

As the years went by, Burt’s six children, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren have all died without seeing a penny. Meanwhile, the trust fund has grown to an estimated $100m. Relatives who finally inherited in 2011 described it as a “legacy of bitterness,” having watched family members pass away still fruitlessly hoping to claim that fortune.

Heinrich Heine on his deathbed
Heinrich Heine reflecting on his choices.

2) The final regret

For 15 years, German essayist and poet Heinrich Heine had a very volatile relationship with his wife, Mathilde. But when he fell ill, she stayed at his bedside to the very end – and received a somewhat ambiguous reward.

Heine left Mathilde a legacy, alright, but only if she remarried. His reasoning? “Because then, at least one man will regret my death.” Ouch.

3) The father-in-law’s revenge

Son-in-laws: can’t live with them, can’t guilt someone into putting shelves up around the house without them. In 1908, Garvey P. White’s used his will to take a parting shot at his daughter’s unfortunate husband:

“Before anything else is to be done, 50 cents is to be given to my son-in-law to enable himself to buy a good strong rope with which to hang himself, and thus rid mankind of one of the most infamous scoundrels that ever roamed this broad land or lived outside a penitentiary.”

One has to wonder what the son-in-law did to deserve it.

Bath Abbey
Not pictured: vengeful bellringers.

4) The bells, the bells

Another disgruntled husband here: Colonel Charles Nash used his will to leave an annuity of $50 to the bellringers of Bath Abbey. 

But there were conditions: the bellringers had to clang out a mournful funerary toll on the anniversary of his marriage. They also had to ring the bells merrily on the anniversary of his death – celebrating his liberation from married life.

5) The deadly legacy

In the wrong hands, a will can be a dangerous thing. One Munich-based gentleman had a seemingly harmless stipulation in his will: the wake had to be held in an upstairs room of his house. 

But when family and friends arrived and gathered around the coffin, the entire floor came down – killing almost everyone present. It later turned out that the man had painstakingly sawed most of the way through the beams of his house. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen dead in their company.

Beyond mascot takes n otes while sitting in a chair.Make your own vengeful will today

Have your own score to settle? You can make a will today on Beyond in just 15 minutes. It costs just £90, or £135 if you and your partner would like to plan your vengeance together. Start making your will today.

Don’t forget! Pay 20% more for your vengeful will using the offer code VENGEANCEISMINE at checkout – you big meanie.