Category Archives: Funeral

Know Your Plot – Michael Jackson Doesn’t….

Here’s an interesting item from MSNBC –

Based on California code, Michael Jackson’s final resting spot is up to this estranged parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson.

The article states – “If a person didn’t leave instructions and means to provide for their own burial, there is a clear pecking order of who has the right to control disposition of remains and make arrangements, according to California Health and Safety Code Section 7100.

Control goes first to the power of attorney for health care (Jackson doesn’t appear to have one), then to a surviving competent spouse, then to a competent adult child, and if none of those options exist, power rests with the deceased’s parents.”

Now, Joe and Katherine haven’t been together for some time apparently.  And, they don’t see eye-to-eye on many things (the tip of that iceberg is here).

This is why it is so important to decide how you’d like to be buried, cremated – whatever – before you go.  That way, there are no worries about what your state does or doesn’t allow or who chooses what as you’ll have this laid out in a legally-binding will.

Otherwise you’ll end up like Michael Jackson, and it remains to be seen what happens to his remains.

Learn from Michael, read this info on pre-arrangements and make plans now.

- Susan

Farrah and Michael

Wow.  Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both pass away on the same day.  Farrah, 62, after a long battle with cancer and Michael, 50, paassed away after a cardiac arrest.

Farrah passed away in the hospital surrounded by friends, including Ryan O’Neal, who has been her long-time partner. Her death, while crushing for family and friends, was not unexpected in the last few weeks.

Michael’s death, on the other hand, is surprising people.  After his prolific life in music, the glare of the legal spotlight and his marriages; he will be remembered.

Thoughts go to family, friends and fans of both.

Best of the Day – Simon Cowell

Simon the Frozen, via wikipedia

Simon Cowell wants to freeze himself when he passes so he can come back later – kind of like human syndication…

This freezing process is called cryogenics. It has been around for years, though it really came into its own in 1997 when Austin D. Powers was successfully brought back to fight his nemesis, Dr. Evil.

Though, even with that advance, cryogenics still focuses primarily on freezing fairly mundane things like metals and other materials.

It will cost an arm and a leg to freeze Simon.  If that price tag is too high for you, check out these low-cost funeral options as well as a look at average funeral cost.

Need more? Check out SmartMoney’s article on saving on funeral costs.

Those who passed in 08

Writing a Eulogy

There are a lot of 2008 summaries on news sites.  I’m seeing the requisite list of famous and influential people who passed away this year.  Heath Ledger, George Carlin, Bernie Mac, Tim Russert…

One of the most common questions we get about funerals is how to write a eulogy.  Here are some ideas readers have sent to us –

  • Talk about the person’s unique characteristics – their choice of clothing; their way of laughing, telling stories, talking
  • Did they take memorable vacations
  • Were they know for their work
  • Make the speech simple to read
  • Some things that might be funny to your friends and age group might not be appropriate for everyone attending. Err on the sides of caution, respect and dignity.

More good advice on our article – Writing a Eulogy

– Susan

Mr. Blackwell Judging in Heaven

Planning for Funerals
Planning for Funerals

Mr. Blackwell has passed away.  He was the original Fashion Policeman and famous for his ‘worst-dressed lists’ where he ripped on what celebrities wore.

Mr. Blackwell probably had a good will in place so his relatives will know who gets what.

If you don’t have a will, or plans for what you’d like done for your funeral, check out these articles:

Funerals: Get Prepared

Average Funeral Costs

Dispersing Family Heirlooms

Spring Cleaning Series: Day #2

Welcome back! It’s Day 2 of our week-long spring cleaning series. (Read Day #1 here!)

Spring cleaning can be a lot more than just cleaning out closets and putting winter items away: how about “cleaning” and organizing your financial house as well!

Pick a topic below and get started!


Having adequate coverage is key, just in case the unexpected occurs. You never know when Mother Nature might cause a slight disruption in your life, so get ready!

1. How much is your home worth? Do you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Learn how to estimate your home’s value.

2. Am I covered? The more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Top questions to ask your agent…

3. Get extra coverage. Did you know that most home owner’s insurance policies only cover about $1000 worth of electronics and only $1500 worth of jewelry? Look into extra riders to make sure your possessions are protected…

4. Review your policy. There are about five key events that should trigger a review. The first one is…


1. Start an emergency fund. Unexpected medical bills, disasters, even car accidents – you should have a pool of money set aside for these little speed bumps of life. Learn how to get started…

2. Do a home inventory. It’s like “found money” – it can help you make your case to the insurance companies when filing a claim after a loss, theft or natural disasters. Learn more…

3. Write a will and name beneficiaries for major policies. Take care of your finances for your loved ones before it’s too late. Start today.

That’s Day 2! Check back tomorrow for tips on how to prep your home for the spring severe weather season ahead. Have a tip? Post it in the Comments section below!

Tackling the Costs of a Serious Illness

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble.

One major hurdle: paying the health care bills. However, there are solutions out there. Our guest columnist and licensed insurance agent, M. Bryan Freeman, explains one often over-looked solution: life settlements.

What is a life settlement??

Basically, a life settlement is the sale of an existing life insurance policy. Although life settlements are usually undertaken by relatively healthy seniors for financial- and estate-planning reasons, people with serious illness also may qualify.

Learn more – read M. Bryan Freeman’s article here…

Four Professionals Everyone Should Keep on Speed Dial

Productivity and frugality blog, WiseBread, has a great post about the top 6 professionals that you should have in your phone’s contact list…just in case. I’ve narrowed their list down to three and added in one extra professional I think you really should have in case of emergencies:

Attorney: Whether it’s a car accident, medical lawsuit or helping you draw up a will or other important document, everyone will probably need or meet with a lawyer at least once in their lifetime. Before something major happens, do the scouting now:

  • (this is a commercial site but they have good, basic information on how to find a lawyer and understanding fees)

Doctor: Even if it’s just a cold, having a doctor that you can trust can make the world of difference. Build that relationship now before you feel under the weather:

Insurance Agent: Auto, car, life, medical, home owner’s and rental insurance…doesn’t matter what coverage you’ve got, you’ll need a great agent to get the coverage you need and help you get the most out of your claims.

Mechanic: Let’s face it. Someday (could be tomorrow, could be next year), something in your car will break. You’ll need a great mechanic you can trust to get your car back on the road – and fast. Otherwise, you’ll be back in the shop before you know it.

What professional couldn’t you live without? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below! (Thanks, WiseBread!)

Who’s Got the Power?

President Bush had a colonoscopy on Saturday in order to evaluate five polyps found in his colon. Before undergoing the procedure, Bush temporarily transferred the powers of the presidency to Vice President Dick Cheney, invoking the rarely invoked 25th Amendment, according to USA Today.

Imagine if you had to undergo surgery or if you were incapacitated. Who would you like to make personal, business and medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself?

If you so choose, you can name that individual in your will or in a health care directive – this is usually referred to as the “power of attorney.” If you choose not to name an individual, there may be legal battles between family members and possibly the state over certain medical or financial decisions (think of the Terri Schiavo case).

Give this matter some thought and consider talking with loved ones and perhaps your lawyer about the steps to naming a power of attorney.

Learn more… 

Neat Site: Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?

It’s hard to talk about the unexpected…but sometimes it’s better to be prepared than sorry.

Today’s neat site, Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?, is especially designed to help you and your loved ones talk about a tough issue: who will get your (or a loved one’s) possessions after you’re gone?

“It’s harder to divide possessions equally among family members. You just can’t,” says Marlene Stum, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and lead researcher/author of the Pie Plate site. “Items are tied to family rituals and traditions. For instance, the oak dining table might be worth $500 but when you look at the table you don’t see [money], instead you see ‘family dinners with Grandma’.”

It might be hard to talk about these decisions with loved ones so the Pie Plate site has developed free articles and tips on how to start this conversation. Stum also offered four key steps of action you should consider when starting this process:

1. Figure out what you hope to accomplish: Do you wish to give certain items to certain family members? Or prefer to donate other items to museums or to sell the items to raise money for other family members? Think about what your wishes might be.

2. Think about what’s fair: Who should get what? What is the fair process to make these decisions – both now and later?

3. Think about what items are meaningful to certain family members: Maybe a grandchild treasured a music box you once had; or a sister loved your old baseball memorabilia collection. Have conversations with family members about their connections and feelings towards certain items in your home.

4. Write a will. Then create a written list, detailing which family member receives which item. It’s probably best to stick to major items at first then add on smaller items. Mention in your will that you have created this additional list and include this list with your will.

If you’re not creating your own list at the moment, the Pie Plate site also has helpful tips on helping loved ones start this process.

Thanks to Marlene Stum and the others behind the “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” project.

Have a neat site to recommend? Post it in the Comments section below!