Pre-Need planning is a wonderful gift to those you love. As a rule of thumb, a pre-need funeral contract refers to the purchase of funeral goods and services before a person passes away. Why would someone want to pre-plan?

The pre-arrangement allows the person to speak directly to the funeral director about his or her own funeral wishes and preferences. By having pre-planning the service, the individual is providing significant relief to surviving family members from having to make decisions during a time of tumult and grieving in addition to relieving the survivors from a financial burden. Additionally, there is a Medicaid planning benefit to planning as well. Persons who currently qualify for Medicaid assistance or who anticipate qualifying may pre-pay their funerals without impacting their Medicaid eligibility. As this is an exempt purchase. The drawback to pre-planning is that the person is tying up the money.

Now there are really two types of pre-need contract: a guaranteed price contract and a non-guaranteed. In a guaranteed price contract the funeral home guarantees the funeral goods and services the planning person selects at the amount of money stated in the agreement. Which means there will be no need for additional payment later.selected for the amount of money stated in the contract. This means that you or your estate will not be required to pay any additional cost for the guaranteed items. The “non guaranteed contract” treats the amount paid for planning as a deposit against the final costs which is determined at the time of the actual funeral services provided.

If the contract does not guarantee the prices charged, the price of the funeral will be determined at the time the services and merchandise are provided. Any amount you pre-pay will be considered as a deposit to be applied toward the purchase price.

Some good questions to ask (in addition to your wishes) during your pre-planning session are:

* Where will the pre-need funds be deposited until they are needed?
* Will I receive verification from the financial institution that the prepaid funds have been deposited in the trust account?
* If the funds are used to purchase an insurance policy, will I receive verification that the policy has been purchased?
* What is covered by the price guarantee?
* Is the pre-need contract irrevocable or revocable?
* If the contract is revocable, how can I cancel the contract?

I have had to handle funeral arrangements for family, friends and client and can tell you. It is a marvelous relief to know a plan was already in place for our loved one.E

PROBLEM – Children Steal with Parent’s Power of Attorney

If you work very long in the area of estate planning and asset preservation, you will see greed emerge among children after the passing of a parent, or now, while a parent is alive, misuse of a power of attorney. We advise our seniors to have an effective power of attorney but spend some time and effort to review who will be holding the power and what protections are necessary. Unfortunately, we have recently referred situations (not our planning) where children have stolen mom’s money while no one was looking. This is not an isolated case and, in communication with bankers, find it is happening with increased frequency.

Our goal is peace of mind and protection for our clients. That won’t happen by just filling in the blanks on a standard power of attorney. Proper planning requires careful discussion and experience. Look carefully and work with a professional who knows the risks.


What was the best thing about your experience with our firm?

We received guidance prior to Mother’s passing and professional understanding and handling of her affairs thereafter! – D.B.

Everyone was so friendly and helpful. You did not make me feel stupid for the questions I asked you. – I.T.

When I left the office, I was so content that what I wanted for my daughter was finally made legal. I feel so much more at ease now for my future and hers. – W. B.

They knew exactly what and why we wanted a “trust” and understood where we were coming from. – C.E.

We needed a “Power of Attorney” right away for my wife. They made time for us on such short notice. – H.V.


It is hard to understand, if you are logical, why we are still looking at a January 1 reversion to old federal estate tax rates – $1 M exemption.   But somehow in our dumb-downed public discourse, it makes sense to let income taxes go up, so politicians can claim to reduce them in January, and likewise, restore retroactively the federal estate tax exemption at over $5M.  Who knows?  At least the Ohio estate tax is gone on January 1.  I can only relate what tax services report to me that the federal estate tax rates for 2012 are likely going to be extended for 2013, although the president wants to reduce the exemption to $3.5M and raise the rate to 45% from its present 35%.  While I think that estate planners like myself and our clients deal with a lot of uncertainty, can you imagine the plight of the IRS employees?  What forms to they release?  At what rate?   I never thought I would say something sympathetic for the IRS but I just did!  What does scripture say about love for all?   Blessings, Tim