As society has moved towards more acceptance of people talking about their feelings, so has there been more acceptance of people talking about their own death, or the death of somebody close to them.
Arranging Our Own Funerals
Prepaid funerals are now very common. Not only is this due to the exemption from asset testing for Residential Subsidy, but it is also viewed as a healthy way in which we can put our own wishes into place.
There are many ways of prepaying funerals. Most funeral directors, Trustee Companies (e.g. Public Trust, Trustee Executors, Perpetual Trust etc.) and many law firms will be able to set up a Funeral Trust. ln terms of the qualification of Residential Subsidy, the maximum WINZ will allow in such a trust is $10,000, so many people are choosing to invest this amount.
A detailed account of a person's wishes are recorded. This can even include choice of music, flowers etc.
When a person dies, the funeral is paid for by the trust, and the balance of the money, plus the interest it has earned goes into the estate.
Generally it is a good idea to talk things over with family first. It is best that we demystify death and funerals, and allow these topics to be discussed openly and honestly.
It is also common practise to include mention of funeral arrangements in a will. Items usually include:
- Choice of Funeral Director
- Church affiliations
- Wishes for burial or cremation (including disposal of ashes)
- Venue for the funeral
- Details of cemetery plot which may be already owned
- Details of organisations, societies etc. which must be notified of funeral arrangements.
Why Funerals are Important for us
The reality of death is hard to accept, either for ourselves, or those closest to us. Although some people wish to simply depart without any function or ceremony, it becomes difficult for friends and families to say their own "goodbyes" and to cherish the memory of the deceased person. Funeral services have evolved as a way of expressing our love and respect, and are one way of working through our own grief.
Cost of Funerals
Funerals vary in prices, but most cost around $5000 - $8000. Obviously the price will vary accordingly to burial or cremation, type of casket, flowers etc. lf families have little money it is important to discuss this with the funeral director at the time. WINZ are able to assist towards the cost of a funeral where there are no other sources of money.
ACC may also assist towards funeral costs if it is an ACC claim.
Many people also now choose to use a celebrant seperate from the funeral director for funerals. Costs vary.
Although cost should not be the sole criteria for deciding a funeral, it is important that relatives with few financial resources do not burden themselves with accounts that are difficult to pay off.