Category Archives: Funerals

Have you planed your funeral in advance so your wishes can be followed?

Some famous people have had unusual wishes but, because others knew what they wanted, they were carried out.

Hunter S. Thompson, an American journalist who died in 2005, wanted to be cremated and then shot out of a canon. A 150 foot high canon was constructed and his ashes were blasted out of it while friends sipped bourbon and watched.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, died in 1991. He requested that his ashes be placed on a shuttle and sent into space. Some of his ashes circled the earth 160 times on the shuttle Columbia in 1992. Earlier this year his wife Majel died and plans were made to send her ashes into space along with more of his.

Liberace was very flamboyant in life and was the same when he died in 1987. Per his request, he was buried in a gold coffin, wearing wig, a white tuxedo and full makeup.

What you want to happen to your body after you die and the kind of rites you want may be very important to you. If they are, make sure you document them and discuss them with close family members. Your wishes may not be as bizarre as Hunter Thompson’s, Gene Roddenberry’s or Liberace’s but, whatever they are, they need to be clarified before you die or you may not have the send off you want.

For more information about planning a funeral, go to www.diesmart.com.

How about a QR barcode for a love one’s tombstone?

Traditionally, the deceased have been buried in a grave which is marked by a lifeless granite tombstone. The tombstone conveys just basic information – the name of the person and his or her years of life. Sometimes it also includes a short phrase about the person, such as “beloved parent” or “lived life to the fullest”.

If you’ve ever walked around a cemetery, you’ve probably looked at many of these stones and may have wished that you could know more about the people buried beneath them.

Now there is technology that will enable you to learn more. A QR barcode sticker can be affixed to an individual’s tombstone. Then the family of the deceased can link the code to an electronic obituary of the person, a biography, a video or images and much more. Finally, if you have a smartphone with internet access, you can walk by this stone, scan the barcode and view the online tribute to the person.

Some companies, like Digital Legacys, a Pennsylvania company, sell the QR barcode sticker and the online tribute link for $99.99 per year or $149.99 for a lifetime subscription to the service.

Living Headstones®, Seattle, Washington, is a monument company. Thru them, you can buy a headstone that has an embedded QR barcode and a code link to their memorial site for $75. However, if you already have a tombstone, you can purchase a QR barcode and a link to their memorial site for $150.

These QR barcodes can also be attached to memorial benches, plaques or even trees in a memorial garden.

With a QR barcode, a deceased’s legacy can live on. Isn’t that better than just seeing their name and date of birth and death? What do you think?

Planning a Pet’s Funeral

Many people complain about funeral costs when they are deciding what to do about dear deceased granddad or mom; they think costs are too high and ask for cheaper options. But when it comes to a beloved pet, no one complains about what it costs to bury or cremate it. Cost is rarely even discussed. Rather the pet owner decides what he or she wants and then just pays for it.

National Pet Memorial Day was celebrated in September. According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories,  it was a day to “increase awareness of the many options available to memorialize pets”. Less than ten years ago, pet aftercare facilities were almost nonexistent. People just didn’t talk about what to do with their deceased pet. Today, there are more than 700 pet aftercare facilities nationwide and the number is growing. According to Tom Flynn, president of Hillerest-Flynn Pet Funeral Home and Crematory in Hermitage, PA, it’s a rapidly growing business. His profits have increased by 25% every year since he began offering pet burials in 2006.

Nobody really knows what demographic is responsible for the industry boom. Some think it’s baby boomers, who turn to a pet after their spouse has died or their children have left home. Others think it’s people in their 20’s and 30’s who have delayed or opted out of becoming parents and have decided to get a pet instead. Still others think it’s older women who never had children. Or the very wealthy. But, in actuality, Ed Martin, Jr. of Hartsdale, NY Pet Cemetery and Crematory, says they “get everybody: men, women, rich, poor, young, old.”

A pet funeral can be expensive, with a bronze grave marker costing almost $1,800 and a velvet-lined casket in excess of $1,100. Did you know that in addition to pet burials and cremations, you can arrange things like pet blessings and candlelight vigils? Some companies offer even more services than you’d find at a human funeral home.

In addition, there are unconventional options as well. Although it sounds very weird, some people opt for freeze-drying their pet’s body which can cost as much as $3,000. And a company in Elk Grove Village, IL called LifeGem, has a process that uses carbonized ashes from cremated remains to create synthetic diamonds. Prices run from $2,490 to $25,000. The process originally was intended for humans but pet owners started requesting the service for their pets so frequently that it’s now 25% of LifeGem’s business.

If you’re looking for unusual ideas, a place to start might be Peternity, an online store like Target, but for pet grieving.

Whatever you decide when planning what to do with your deceased pet, be like everyone else. Don’t think about price. Just decide what you want and pay whatever it costs.

Everyone needs a will. Do you have one?

It is critically important for everyone to have a will.  If you don’t have one, your wishes may not be carried out.  Why? 

First of all,  every state has laws covering what is called “dying intestate” (without a will).  These rules strictly dictate who will receive what from your estate. 

Let’s look at one example.  You have two children.  The first child worked his way through college and didn’t take any money from you.  You paid all of the fees associated with the second child getting a degree and consider that money an advance on that child’s future inheritance.  So you would like the first child to receive 75% of your assets and the second to get only 25%.  However, when you die, you do not have a will which specifies this.  According to the laws in many states, both of your children will share equally in your estate.

You may feel sentimental about some of your possessions.  Maybe you have a few special pieces of jewelry and know to which member of your family you wish to give each one.  Without a will, your wishes don’t count.

A will is also a good place to specify what you want your family to do with your body after you die.  Perhaps you wish to be buried; however, they may not know and this and may cremate your body instead.

This week, I read two interesting blogs which reminded me of  how important a subject this is.  Both, interestingly enough, come from outside of the United States. 

 The first comes from Ghana and begins by talking about the late Colonel Momar Khadafi  You may not care what Khadafi’s wishes were or that they were not carried out despite the fact that he had a will.  However, later the blog talks about the writer’s father and how he set the precedent for everyone in his village to have a will. 

The second was written by a woman in British Columbia and is a sad story about a man who told his former doctor, and later friend, about his wishes.  However, he didn’t write them in a formal will.  When he died, the doctor contacted the coroner to try to ensure that the wishes were carried out.  Instead, the man’s body was turned over to the Public Guardian and Trustee (a government group) and his wishes were disregarded.

Consider getting your will written today.  Not only will it make it easier for your wishes to be carried out but will remove an extra burden from your family members when you die.

 For more information about this subject and other related topics check out our book “Die Smart, 11 Mistakes That Cost Your Family Money When You Die”.

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Twitter – When do the Tweets stop?

If a Twitter user dies, here are the steps you must take to remove his or her account or to save a backup of their public Tweets.

Contact Twitter at privacy [Email address: privacy #AT# twitter.com - replace #AT# with @ ] or by mail or fax at:

Twitter Inc.
c/o Trust and Safety
795 Folsome St., Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94107
Fax: 415-222-9958

In the letter that you send, include the following information:

  1. Your full name, contact information (including email address) and your relationship to the deceased user.
  2. The user name of the Twitter account or a link to the profile page of the Twitter account.  
  3. A  link to a public obituary or other news article about the account holder’s death.

For more information about closing out social media and other accounts when someone dies, check out our book “Grave Robbers…How to prevent identity theft of the deceased.”